Thursday, March 09, 2006


It's a pity its the start of March, as this day will surely be declared a public holiday for all eternity, a day of public celebration and private joy.

When you return home tonight, and your family look at you with tears in their eyes and say "is it true? Is it true?" , you can tell them, yes: Madonna has quit acting:

She fears her terrible acting reputation will condemn any film.

That sentence didn't actually need 'reputation' in there, did it?

According to she said: "What film can survive people saying it's going to be a bomb from the second it's announced?

"Making movies is such an effort, and to do that over and over again, with the possibility that I am going to get the shit kicked out of me - and they really enjoy doing it - I mean, it doesn't make sense.

"I have sort of let it go."

What Madonna seems to have missed isn't that people say the films are going to bomb from the off - it's that people who see them say they're going to bomb.

Lets review that career in full, then:

A Certain Sacrifice (1979) - Madonna is caught up in a bizarre cult (ooh, spooky) and spends her time without many clothes on; the film only got a genuine release - oddly - after Madonna started to sell records.

Vision Quest (1985)
- another film made while the money for Jell-o and peanut butter was hard to come by; mercifully, Madonna keeps her clothes on and restricts herself to a small role as a club singer while Matthew Modine struggles to keep his enormous hair in check and romance Linda Fiorentino. Even repackaged and renamed to share a title with Madonna's hit from the film, Crazy For You, it did nothing.

Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)

The film which made us think she might be able to bestride two forms of popular entertainment - look, it never occured to us that she was just being herself and the awkward, stilted bits weren't her trying to convey the iculture-clash screwball mismatchage, but her just being stilted. Still, if she'd called it a day after this, we'd be saying "wasn't it a shame she never made any more movies, eh?"

Shanghai Surprise (1986)

"A romantic adventure for the dangerous at heart" brazens the box, although "a misbegotten trump through a third-rate Romancing the Stone" might have been more honest. Madonna is a nun-cum-nurse who's trying to source some heroin to help her patients. Sean Penn is a gun for hire. It's believed that the famous incident where Penn apparently tied Madonna to a chair for several days was done in an attempt to stop her ever making a film ever again.

Who's That Girl (1987)

Most famous for landing Madonna with the "where's the cougar, matey" question for the next few years whenever she appeared in Smash Hits, this pairing with Griffin Dunne promises "a funny thing happened on the way to the bus station", although an hour and a half breathing in fumes at Victoria Coach Terminus might be more amusing. Madonna plays Nikki Finn, fresh out of prison for a crime she - obviously - didn't commit. Dunne plays a preppy lawyer who gets caught up in her attempts to prove herself innocent. Cultures clash, teeth grind.

Bloodhounds of Broadway (1989)

Even Madonna probably admits this one stinks - when it first went nationwide in the US, it was sent out with one of its reels missing. Nobody noticed. Reworked from Damon Runyon's novels, the kindest thing you can say is it kept Randy Quaid off the streets for a few weeks making it.

Dick Tracy (1990)

Adapting comic books to the big screen can work incredibly well - as Sin City so ably demonstrated. On the other hand, you sometimes end up with a Tank Girl, although that would be over kind to Warren Beatty's pointless attempt to covert Dick Tracy into box office gold. Besides setting up one of the most queasy relationships in Madonna's long career of falling for wrong 'uns (it must have been like kissing your grandad) it also spun off the single Hanky Panky, the first time, musically, Madonna was indefensible.

Shadows and Fog (1992)

Talking of kissing your grandad, here's Madonna's attempt to take a step closer to the arthouse by accepting a small role in a Woody Allen movie. To be fair to Madonna, that this one plummeted like a goose with avian flu was down more to the difficulties in bringing gags about mid-Century German expressionism to the multiplex.

A League of Their Own (1992)

If the American public won't buy a nod to nosferatu, surely you can't go wrong with a baseball movie? Madonna and Geena Davis play feuding sisters who set aside their differences to enter the first ever female baseball league. In other words: a film built around rounders.

Body of Evidence (1992)

Having tried highbrow, and folksy, Madonna reverted to type to try playing sexy in this attempt to ride the post-Sharon Stone wave (a wave not even Sharon Stone could keep afloat on, of course). Madonna played the part of a gallery owner accused of, literally, fucking a guy to death. It would have been more interesting if - in a Tales of the Unexpected plot twist - she had then eaten the evidence. Part of the problem was the trouble in trying to match the supposedly raunchy storyline (hot wax sex toys; cocking yourself out of existence) with a mimsy pussy-footing trying to please the censor and sensibilities (Madonna wouldn't allow any nudity to make the final cut; the language was bowlderised to the point where the line 'have you ever watched animals making love?' is used as a seduction technique). The other big problem was that Madonna can't act.

Dangerous Game (1993)

Madonna does best when she sticks to what she's good at – singing, being a diva, or, in this case, playing the part of second-rate jobbing actress. Indeed, this is one of her better film performances and she could have tried claiming that the previous half-dozen had merely been Hoffmanesque attempts to get in the part as a struggling soap opera actress. Trouble is, the plot of this one – Harvey Keitel attempts to screw with people's heads, using lots of hand-held cameras – made for one gloomy evening at the movies.

Blue In The Face (1995)

The less-successful improv follow-up to the more successful Smoke, Madonna's involvement in this (as a Singing Telegram) is brief enough to leave her coming across as one of the more polished performers in the affair.

Four Rooms (1995)

They call this a portmanteau movie because anyone involved with it should have been discovered in an abandoned packing case at Brighton Station. Madonna – alongside Amanda DeCadanet and Ione Skye – finds herself in one-quarter of a multi-authored tale of going-ons in a high-class hotel. Basically, it's Blame It On The Bellboy reimagined by Tarantino.

Girl 6 (1996)

Spike Lee's recent moan that movies constantly portray black women as sexually hypercharged and sexually available probably had just this sort of movie in mind. His 1996 film only had a small role for Madonna – as a boss, rather than sexline worker, because the idea that anyone would pay Maddy to talk them into a frenzy was already starting to look unlikely a decade ago. It also featured Naomi Campbell, which suggests Lee wasn't that fussy at the audition stage. Notably, it's unavailable on DVD in the UK.

Evita (1996)

"And as for fortune, and as for fame, I never invited them in, though it seemed to world they were all I desired…" Full credit to the woman for singing that with a straight face. Ciccone was pregnant during the filming of this, which appears to have taken her mind off the process of acting for long enough to allow her to turn in a half-decent performance. Added to which, it’s got Don't Cry For Me, Argentina in it. Hard to go wrong, so had she turned a corner at last?

The Next Best Thing (2000)

Or Fag-Hag Surprise, as it's also known. Having completed a half-decent film, Madonna retired to motherhood and cultdom and re-emerged to make this with her chum Rupert Everett. He's gay – you can tell he's gay, he's a landscape gardener - she's not getting any younger but desperate for a baby; oddly, despite Everett's homosexuality, he somehow gets Madonna pregnant while drunk (memo to those US churches offering a cure for homosexuality – apparently it's six Malibu and cokes) and so they all live together happily until Madonna falls in love with a man. It could have been an interesting idea, but the script was written by the bloke who did the third Look Who's Talking movie – the one with the talking dog in it.

The Hire: Star (2001)
Madonna's first movie with Guy Ritchie was this seven minute short in which she plays an un-named hotshot rockstar being driven about by Clive Owen. We haven't seen this, but – genuinely – there's a director's cut available on DVD in America which adds an extra three minutes of previously unseen material.

Swept Away (2002)

Ah, if only Guy and Madge had kept all their marital collaborations so brief as The Hire, or his appearance at the Brit awards. Instead, this nasty bit of 'look, I'm filming my wife being raped' business rolled on for ninety minutes of confused surf-edged misery and never quite got as far as the cinema in the UK.

Die Another Day (2002)

Blink and you'll miss it bit of uncredited Madonna action in this Bond; sadly, you'd have to keep your hands over your ears chanting for quite a bit longer to avoid her contribution to the soundtrack.

Arthur and the Minimoys (2006)
So this is to be the end, then – Madonna's acting career (if she's true to her word) will be capped by her voicing a cartoon princess in a film about Arthur (we think it's meant to be an shortsighted aardvark, but we're really not sure). In a bid to close the circle, Princess Selenia is to be held captive by a weird sex cult and initiates Arthur into the ways of love.


dr entropy said...

Bloody hell - i'd not idea she'd made so many films.

Aaron said...

Great post. Doesn't 'in bed with...' count?

simon h b said...

Dr E - Neither had I when I started out writing that, there were a couple I'd forgotten and one I'd never heard of

Aaron - I was in two minds; although she was attempting to pass herself off as something she wasn't in that, it was *cough* documentary rather than acting. So I set it aside...

ranchnumber51 said...

Madonna does not play Geena Davis' sister in "A League of Their Own". That honor goes to Lori Petty.

Madonna and Rosie O'Donnell play chums in the film, though neither actress plays anyone's sister.

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