Friday, October 21, 2005

our holy mother

it's been awhile since i've bought Madonna as a musician. but i am about halfway through watching her new documentary "I'm Going to Tell You a Secret," and i'll tell you this: i totally buy Madonna as a performance artist.

she seems to have assembled a team of dancers, costumers, set designers and media artists to her specifications and then orchestrates one hell of a show. beautiful multi-media constructions and film clips play on an assemblage of enormous screens behind her constantly moving stage. the dancers are perhaps the most incredible part. i can't take my eyes off them, and then the way they interact with the set and with each other adds another dimension. it's all totally spectacular and over theatricalizied, like the whole show is screaming "yes i am manipulating you!" and it's stunning. everything about the show, from the colors in the film clips to the religious imagery to the movements of the dancers, is oversaturated; i keep wanting to call it a sort of hyper-aesthetics. maybe this forces a kind of hyper-subjectivity on the part of the viewer, which seems to be what Madonna has always been aiming for. love her or hate her, she's consistent. and it speaks to hyper-subjectivity that she's consistent in her reinvention. is it the inflection of chance upon evolution, on transformation, that she's producing?

the film itself, directed by Jonas Akerlund, is similarly striking. the opening montage is particularly beautiful, and proves that this guy is so talented that he can use color and editing and film manipulation to make Madonna reading from the book of revelations not only palatable but affecting.

so, okay, i like Madonna again. Hel-lo Pontiac!


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