Be on the look out for the latest episode of ’11 Questions with…’ This time it’s going to be asized edition with legendary filmmaker John Carpenter on Monday April 2nd 2012! In the mean time, there’s this…
I am not the hugest fan of Madonna.
Like, I enjoy a lot of her “classic” music works alright (the pre-Ray of Light days) particularly most of everything off her first and second albums. But really I get more enjoyment from her cinematic abortions… well ONE of her cinematic abortions anyways, namely the 1993 Basic Instinct coat tail rider Body of Evidence. But aside from my unhealthy love for that ‘film’ (and believe me, it is unhealthy) I find her, especially as a person, to be quite annoying and tired.
Back in the day, 900 years ago, about 200 years after her birth, she may have indeed been the awesome, original, pop progeny she is so often and past tensely referred to as (VERY much past tensely.) And, certainly, without her Lady Gaga wouldn’t exist (or have any corpses to mine her musical wares from so liberally) but these days, and really I’d say every day since about two months AFTER Ray of Light‘s release way back in 1999, she’s become more (and more and more) of an insane old cat lady, airing her hamster meat and tinfoil stuffed pies out on the windowsill for the world to be nauseated by and fearful of. And, I think it goes without saying, by hamster meat and tinfoil stuffed pies I of course mean her vagina.
On that note, this notion has never been more prescient and well represented than on her latest desperate (futile) gasp at relevancy, er… album, MDNA. But, before we get to that rotten old chestnut (once again… her vagina,) I did promise a MEGA MADONNA MELTDOWN in the title bar and that is what I shall provide; by diving into a Shanghai Surprise and examining our Body of Evidence.
Back at the dawn of mankind as we know it today, at the height of Madonna’s popularity as a singer, somewhere around 1984, Madonna decided she could also be an actress (anyone who has seen the horrifically awful celluloid stone carving A Certain Sacrifice made during her pre-fame, college days could have told her that this wasn’t a wise decision and saved us a whole lot of heartbreak) and wound up, essentially playing herself in the movie Vision Quest.
Vision Quest was critically acclaimed, and a minor hit at the box office, and it would seem that some of that notice rubbed off on Madonna, unwittingly opening the pandoras box that is her film career. Her next part in Desperately Seeking Susan only reinforced her utterly false acting abilities, when again essentially playing herself, the movie in which she starred (but had little real impact on) was critically acclaimed and financially successful.
Despite the cinema successes, Madonna perhaps subconsciously realized her limitations (read: no abilities) as an actress she married actual thespian (and future Oscar winner/as big an annoyance as Madonna for other reasons) Sean Penn in 1985 and then promptly dragged him (kicking and screaming, with her pussy) into the first true target of this article… 1986’s (somehow pre-emptive Romancing the Stone rip-off, yes that can happen) Shanghai Surprise (which has a SPECIAL EDITION DVD, which I own.)
All joking aside for a moment, Shanghai Surprise is ACTUALLY an Indiana Jones cash-in (much like 1983’s High Road to China, or 1985’s Allan Quatermain and King Solomon’s Mines.)
Now, back to where we were… Of course Shanghai Surprise is an utterly terrible Indiana Jones knock off, in which Madonna has vastly overestimated her already vastly overestimated (read: entirely overestimated) acting talents and cast herself as a virginal, Julie Andrewsesque, nun/missionary (who teams up with a rougish, very decent, Sean Penn, to find a whole piss ton of missing opium that she can use to aide all of the patients in the free hospital she works at, leading to much madcap misadventure along the way.)
I really only include the movie in this article because it is one of those things that is so terrible it needs to be watched (like Murdercycle, Shark Attack 3 or Mansquito.) There are moments in the film where Madonna’s acting is so wholly misguided and improperly motivated that it literally can rip convulsive laughter from the pit of your soul. The movie would actually be a pretty decent test run for what would become Romancing the Stone, if not for Madonna sucking the life out of every scene she is in (which of course, her being Madonna, is nearly all of them.)
Each line delivery is SO stilted, and each facial expression she belches forth vacillates violently between vacant non-expression to children’s school play over the topness; there is nothing good about her in the film, other than that she is SO absolutely bad.
Needless to say, Shanghai Surprise rightfully failed in every way once it was released (which doesn’t explain the Special Edition DVD, but Cutting Class has one too, so… whatever.) Madonna finally got the critical crucifixion on the cinematic front she so desperately deserved and it seemed at least for a moment that she might throw in the old acting towel and go back to doing what she does best (things with her vagina.)
But no, she geared up again and unleashed a staggering array of awful across numerous films, including Who’s That Girl, Bloodhounds of Broadway and Dick Tracy (to name a few.) Then came 1993… and her two greatest contributions to film… Dangerous Game (in which she gives her sole BRILLIANT performance. And I’m being deadly serious here. She’s wonderful, but the rest of the film is nearly unwatchable.) And, Body of Evidence.
I LOVE Body of Evidence. Love it. Love everything about it. If there were Body of Evidence conventions I would be the first person there, in costume, posters in hand, ready to be signed.
It is still a terrible movie, but the best kind of terrible movie. An A-List, star studded, big budgeted, filmic nightmare of epic proportions.
The entire concept of the film is a true story based around Madonna’s vagina and it’s completely factual ability to screw people to death. It bounces back and forth between over wrought courtroom scenes and even more over wrought (and ridiculous) sexual interludes, replete with as much graphic (and disgusting) nudity as you could possibly want (aside from Julianne Moore, who is ALWAYS smoking hot.)
Once again, Madonna has overestimated her abilities and is not playing herself, or a reasonable facsimile of herself (aside from the murderous genitals), instead she (woefully, stiltedly, misguidedly) plays a (non) character named Rebecca Carlson (some sort of rich, self made painter or something, who lives on a massive implausible house that sits on stilts inches above the water, with perpetually unlocked doors and opened windows, who’s dangerously backlit by hundreds of ever present candles see through curtains forever billow in the heated night air, that could never exist anywhere but a movie.) However, unlike her other films, the makers of Body of Evidence decided to distract the audience from her omnipresent badness by surrounding Madonna with a cadre of typically excellent thespians, who embarrass themselves completely and utterly here.
First there is Willem Dafoe, who plays her reluctant lawyer/reluctant lover, Frank Dulaney, as if he is about to vomit from this misdecision every time he delivers a line or has to fuck Madonna on a pile of broken glass (don’t ask.) Then we have Joe Mantegna playing his part as a total hammy lark, to the cheap seats, as the DA prosecuting the ridiculous murder case that the film is based around. Poor Anne Archer (looking frumpy and haggard) is about too, barely able to push herself through her useless role as Madonna’s primary antagonist. And the legendary Frank Langella is even dragged into the mess, bringing a touch of visibly annoyed class to his tiny tiny part as one of Madonna’s ex lovers. Only the previously mentioned Julianne Moore comes across as she should, delivering the only good performance in the film, as Dafoe’s wife.
Special mention also goes to the production designers on the film who bathe every inch of the movie (no matter how awkward and impossibly placed) with smoky, backlit, venetian blind and ceiling fan shadows. And, of final note, Madonna’s improvised masturbation scene (or Nightmare Fuel as it is known between myself and my friends) is the stuff that Lovecraft wrote about causing the destruction of Men’s minds from even a momentary viewing.
Anywho, despite it’s obvious awesomeness, Body of Evidence tanked at the box office and with critics, and that with the one two punch of Dangerous Game pretty much (thankfully) ended Madonna’s film career (aside from some ensemble parts and the musical Evita in 1996.)
She still had music going on though, and that brings us to the present…
As I kind of implied at the start of this novella, Ray of Light was Madonna’s last good album. Music was atonal and underwritten. American Life is a nightmarish audiophonic shotgun blast to the face that should be locked away for all eternity along side the Ark of the Covenant in Area 54. Confessions on a Dance Floor was… actually pretty OK, if only for the fact that Madonna gave in and went back to her early 80’s discotheque roots for a moment. And, her most recent album before today’s subject, Hard Candy, was a nauseating display of Madonna (‘s vagina) trying her best, but failing miserably to do so, to grasp a hold of the current music scene and ride it dry. (The accompanying music video for the album’s one hit single 4 Minutes, featuring Justin Timberlake, stands along side the Body of Evidence masturbation scene as the most garishly stomach churning display of Madonna’s physical being. Seriously… her arms… her crotch… her face *shudder*)
And, skidding over the edge and in to the rocky death trap below of the same subject, there is today’s final subject, MDNA, Madonna’s newest album.
I won’t be doing my usual song-by-song review, as I honestly can’t bring myself to listen to each song all the way through (aside from the terrible, but catchy, lead single Give Me All Your Luvin,) I’ve only been able to stomach the first minute and a half of each, instead it’ll just be an album spanning bashing.
MDNA is as if Madonna has paid no attention to the lessons she should have learned from the release of her last four albums and combined all of their worst aspects into one barely cohesive musical hell spawn. As with Music, each song is woefully UNDER written, lyrically vapid (Britney’s Blackout features more depth, and is genuinely a good dance album) and atonal (seriously, Madonna’s voice sounds like the dying breath of a cancer patient being teasingly plugged and unplugged from life support.) As with Hard Candy each track is OVER produced to the Nth degree, causing every song to blend together into a toneless cacophony of computerized beats and bleeps. As with Confessions on a Dance Floor Madonna is once again TRYING to go back to what we like her to do best, club songs, but unlike Confessions her reliance on much currently better guest stars just makes you realize even more how woefully useless she is now. And, lastly, as with American Life, the album is utter garbage; BETTER than American Life, but still complete trash.
The lone standout of mild listen-to-ability is Give Me All Your Luvin, but for all the wrong reasons. Madonna (especially in the video) just comes across as a granny trying to be hip and hot and failing in every way. It’s a musical train wreck. Nicki Minaj’s rapid fire, typically foam mouthed, guest spot is energetic and funny, and FUN, basically everything the song (and album) needs more of but gets none of and she steals the show, unfortunately for Madonna, as expected.
Throw in the towel Madge, you’re done. Retire. Live a life of quiet luxury banging dudes 40 years younger than you somewhere on the French Riviera. Quit directing films at the start. And never threaten us with anything even remotely like that Casablanca remake you threw around for a while.
Also, whatever you keep doing to your face, please stop. You look like a sentient blob of half cooked, overly expanded bread dough in a bad wig and one piece.
Shanghai Surprise, 2 out of 10, neon colored, eye sore, neckties.
Body of Evidence, 10 out of 10, candle wax and champagne covered nipples.
MDNA, 1 out of 10, broken hips and cough drops.