Archive for the ‘MADONNA’ Category

W.E. love Madonna: part 2

Continued from W.E. love Madonna: part 1>>

So I thought I’d finished with Madonna at about 1 o’clock on Monday but I then couldn’t stop thinking about W.E. all day yesterday either.

For any megafan the film should be satisfyingly self-referential (which somewhat makes up for the patchiness of the rest of it). Interestingly, the  plot which is woven into the Wallis/Edward story is set in 1998, the year that Madonna’s major comeback (after Lourdes) album Ray of Light was released with its radiant and hopeful cover shot by Mario Testino. 1998 was also the year after Princess Diana died. And the year of the real-life auction of Wallis-Edward belongings in New York around which W.E. pivots.

Ray of Light opener, ‘Drowned World/Substitute for Love’ was a quiet manifesto about the importance of family and home – an unusually personal theme, compounded by a video (below and above) where she heads out to a party alone, is chased by paparazzi on motorbikes, swooped upon for photographs and generally harassed by strangers. The set-up and message of both the song and video aren’t subtle, but the subject of a lonely, vulnerable woman who everyone wants a piece of was still close enough to Madonna’s real life for us to allow her the space to say something about it.

‘Some things cannot be bought’.

Madonna brings much of her experience of the darkness of fame to the character of Wallis  Simpson in W.E. and there is a real empathy and understanding in the retelling – and a desire to reveal and make things beautiful in the process. Even Madonna needs a female rolemodel (scary thought) it seems.

Sometimes I forget that Madonna used to be thought of as a feminist – albeit in a material-girl, totally 80s kind of way. Over the past few decades she’s inspired more debates than any other female star around what women in pop culture/public life can and can’t be or do. We’re endlessly fascinated by her partly because she’s always been deliberately provocative and controversial and partly because she’s constantly changed her look, making herself into an unreal everywoman for whoever’s listening/watching.

Towards the end of this interview for the BBC at the W.E. premiere at Venice Film Festival last month, Madonna makes a point of asking where are the female directors? In the midst of all of the media’s cynicism around her first proper writing/directorial effort, Madonna raising this question is important because it’s true that women are and have always been seriously underrepresented in the most prestigious role in filmmaking: the director.

To paraphrase Ms Ciccone, without more women behind the camera, films will continue to neglect the female point of view to our detriment. There’s no word yet from Madonna about how she might – I don’t know – donate some money to Bird’s Eye View here in the UK or similar women-in-film organisations elsewhere, but in the meantime we’ll have to make do with one movie told from her perspective. The story of a rich American lady marrying into the British aristocracy might not be a universal one (erm), but it’s also a (complicated) love story, and one which is told well, by a woman for a female audience.

Plenty of rubbish films get released every single week and when this comes out in the Spring it won’t be one of them. Once again Madonna’s dared to do exactly what she wants and has almost got away with it: good.

Important notes for filmfans: the cinematographer who worked on W.E. with M is Hagen Bogdanski whose previous credits include The Young Victoria and The Lives of Others – not bad. On Sunday night in the Q&A she also said she’d been inspired by the look and feel of the sublime Piaf biopic La Vie en Rose and Tom Ford’s A Single Man. And you can tell.

W.E. love Madonna: part 1

I first got acquainted with Madonna on the big screen at the ABC cinema in Harrow in 1987 for Who’s that Girl? a jolly caper starring Madonna as an ex-con in a tutu running around New York. Featuring big cats and bubblegum, the film was thoroughly entertaining, but as my mum told me as we left, that probably won’t be in the cinema for very long.

Well W.E.’s already done a lot better than WTG because last night was its UK premiere – a gala screening at the London Film Festival. The Empire Leicester Square was sold out to an audience of mega-fans (including Marianna and I below) who got to see Madonna introducing her film and some of the cast (sorry, don’t know which ones because I wasn’t looking at them) right in front of us. Dressed in a very Mrs Simpson black silk gown and with a noticeable and endearing tremor in her voice, she graciously received a standing ovation before the film had even started: tough crowd.

As you may have heard, W.E. tells interwoven stories of Wallis Simpson and her namesake Wally (Abbie Cornish), a young woman in 1990s New York, trapped in a troubled marriage who escapes domestic misery through her peculiar obsession with the legendary duchess (Andrea Riseborough). We all know what happened between King Edward VIII and his American divorcée, but through this reappraisal, Madonna aims to make us rethink everything we know about her heroine Wallis, another glamorous American in Europe and another twice-divorced woman cast by the media as an emasculating serial-seductress.

In the post-film Q&A Director-Madonna explained that she’d put in 3 years’ worth of research before she started writing the script – reading the couple’s letters, meeting people who’d known them, delving in the archives, visiting the places they’d lived and watching everything she could from the newsreels… this doesn’t mean that W.E. is at all historically accurate though. For example, M would have us believe that the 30-something Wallis would scrawl their initials on her mirror in lipstick (which does look very cool) or that Edward was a keen campaigner for social reform as well as a bright young thing (and a fine ancestor-inspiration for Prince Harry perhaps).

Madonna’s got a misjudged movie non-career full of bad films tucked away on IMDB, but she’s also got decades’ worth of immaculately shot videos, original photo shoots and blockbuster tours to prove that her capacity for visual/conceptual creativity is immense, so it shouldn’t be surprising that her first feature film as a director is gorgeous to look at. Shot in 3 countries, on 43 locations and with 83 costume changes for the duchess alone, W.E. is a WOW-production in terms of its style and scope. From its lavish sets and interiors, to its full-on hair and make-up and longtime M-collaborator Arianne Phillips‘ incredible costumes (made with the help of the Dior and V&A archives), the film, like Madonna (whose face cheeks are much smaller in real life) is dazzling.

From some great performances, Riseborough’s in particular stands out, playing Wallis beautifully and heartfeltly across the decades. Madonna added in the Q&A that Andrea turned up for her audition dressed in full-W.S.-in-her-heyday costume and hairdo (s/wot a clever girl) which pretty much sealed the deal. At some points, though, I wished that the film just stuck to the historical narrative without intruding on it with the sometimes clumsy, (post-Diana) 1990s storyline. Oddly enough it wasn’t Wally’s obsession with the charismatic American style icon that I found unbelievable, it was the sad situation that she found herself in and what she ultimately goes through to get out of it.

I’ll leave you with what director-M finished with last night when she was asked, What do you want people to take away from the film? After a lengthy pause she answered: ‘There’s no such thing as perfect love, and if you think there is, you’re in for a rude awakening… nothing is what it seems… before you come to a conclusion, make sure you gather as much evidence as possible.’

UPDATE/edit: I realised just now (10.20am on Monday morning) that W.E. and I are not finished – part 2 to follow).

IT’S MY PARTY: the perils of bday gal dressing

madonna lookin’ smokin’ hott in 1988. the year she turned 30>>>

while everyone else has been obsessing over wedding dressing, i’ve been thinking about what to wear for another significant spring occasion – MY BIRTHDAY. since booking a venue for this year’s impending bash, i’ve been trawling the archives trying to work out what to wear, looking at what interesting ladies have worn on their bdays and, more specifically what other women have worn on their special bdays.

there is often a tendency for the bdaygal to pick the eye-catching, all-exposing or even borderline-obscene outfit and i know that i have done my very worst in times gone by – but maybe I won’t this time. if in previous years my chief bday costume film reference was ‘horror’ or occasionally ‘gritty drama’ then this will be the year that i attempt ‘classic’ because i’m thinking that i might try to look nice for once. (this is going to be HARD when my current style-inspirations are mostly the XX because i keep seeing them everywhere and they look so cool in their all-black garb and also CREEP, the XX collaborators and gothstep’s only brooklyn-based girl duo.)

generally, birthdays can provide a licence for bad behaviour both style-and-attitude-wise and they always seem like the best time to take a chance on that polyester dress/rayon jumpsuit/lilac wig combo you’ve stashed unworn at the back of your wardrobe. i don’t have an official fancy dress theme this year (have given up) but i do want everyone to dress the hell up. the birthday night out is the closest most of us will ever come to being on stage (erm this is how i see the world – madonna is my main woman after all – take a bow), so for that evening in the spotlight, you and your guests can afford to amp it up a little bit, knowing that you’ll be back to a washed out t-shirt, dirty flipflops and ripped jeans (unintentional) tomorrow. it’s sunday, what??

so what should I wear? >> LOOK1: obscene-scene go the attention-grabbing route in the tradition of tara palmer-tomkinson’s legendary splash in her sunday times style column when she hosted a james bond-themed party wearing little more than an ursula andress white bikini and snorkel ensemble. probably not the best idea if you 1. don’t have a chauffeur 2. are mostly sober 3. don’t want to catch a cold. see also: paris hilton’s moulin rouge 30th thing.

LOOK2: then there was kate moss at her The Beautiful and the Damned-themed thirtieth in floor-length midnight blue sequins and supersized 70s hair >> glitter is go>> the idea behind this is YOU become the discoball, the focal point of any dancefloor, reflecting light and spinning dazzlingly as your friends gasp in awe at your glittery wonder (might happen to moss, bit less likely to happen to us).

LOOK3>>> pretty in pink>>> at my friend lizzie’s 26th bday night out in march she matched a powder pink vivien of holloway circle prom dress with a sparkly tiara (PRE-wedding) so that any casual observer could spot who the queen bday bee was from the bar. on phoebe’s birthday last year she wore a rose-pink vintage lace gown for her garden party-themed do and drank gin from a teacup with matching saucer gaga-style. the lace was pretty and the shade elegant but p kept it weird with the crockery-accesories and by matching everything (balloons), charmingly, to that dress.

more birthday girls: obscene AND serene>>katy perry in LA in 2009, Susie Bubble on her bday last year & Alexa Chung in leopard hat celebrating her birthday in november.

whatever i end up wearing on the big night, i hope it doesn’t end or start like this – SATC’s carrie all-dressed up but alone, abandoned in a pizza joint on her 35th birthday. oh carrie it’s 1998, why don’t you have a cell phone??

don’t worry, you’re not the only one>> famous ladies turning 30 in 2011 include beyonce, britney AND sienna



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