Thursday, September 1, 2011

Madonna's Press Conference & Polanski's Carnage

Madonna in Venice (photo at daylife)
(Venice, Italy) Madonna seems to run on solar energy, which is only natural since she is a Leo, ruled by the Sun. She is here in Venice to promote, W.E., a film that she not only directed, but also co-wrote. I haven't yet seen the film, which is about King Edward VIII giving up his throne to marry American Wallis Simpson -- a story that still seems to shock certain members of society. I have read warm reviews and scathing reviews. The thing I love about Madonna is that, of course, she knows she is going to come under fire for choosing this particular subject matter but she does it anyway because she in interested in the story. And why wouldn't she be? I'm interested in the story, too. Everybody is interested in the story of why a British king would give up his empire for an American woman who has been divorced twice, and marry for love. It's a good story.

Anyway, I am a big fan of Madonna, so I am sure I will enjoy her film. 

Here is a snip from the Baz Bamigboye review, which is titled "Madonna Makes Us All Fall in Love With Mrs. Simpson:"

Madonna's film about the celebrated romance between King Edward VIII and the twice divorced Mrs Wallis Simpson, and the grave constitutional crisis it caused, is exquisitely done — but it’s going prove divisive.

A lot of people will loathe it, simply because it’s been made by Madonna.

...We all know that the affair cost the King his kingdom, and an empire. But Madonna the film-maker, who wrote the screenplay  with her old friend Alek Keshishian, raises the question of what it cost Mrs Simpson.

To be sure, she became the Duchess of Windsor and lived a life of luxury but, as Mrs Simpson (played beautifully by Andrea Riseborough) points out, the King ‘used me to escape his prison, only to incarcerate me in my own’.
(UPDATE: September 2, 2011 - I have now seen the film, and loved it. Yes, it has some problems -- as do many films -- but certainly nothing to deserve the cruel reviews -- even a fake negative review -- it has received. The reviews I've read were all written by men. From my female point of view, the movie works all the way through the first and second acts, and stumbles a bit in the third. After hearing all the negative press, I had actually planned to leave early to catch a press conference I really wanted to attend, but the movie held me inside the theater and that is the truth. I didn't want to leave! I wanted to see what happened.

The two scenes of Wallis dancing that have been targeted for attack, to me, were two of the best scenes in the entire film. I could see how the King would love her to dance for him, to give him the sheer joy of being human and free and alive, and not always weighed down by nobility and responsibility. And the scene with Wallis doing the twist as the King lay ill in bed -- THAT SCENE MADE ME CRY. It broke my heart, the viciousness that this couple had been subjected to, and that sad, sweet little dance... that bit of normal life... well, it only made me admire Madonna more.

I saw the film with a mix of professionals and the general public and no one walked out of the movie, which we certainly would have done if it was so horrible. I walk out of movies all the time if they don't hold my attention -- especially if there is some place else I have to be! Madonna also got great performances out of her cast; it looks luscious; sometimes the soundtrack works and sometimes it doesn't.

Why would they try to destroy this movie before it even opens? Besides that Madonna, personally, pushes so many buttons for so many people? Well, it made me think how different the world itself would be today if King Edward had not abdicated the throne, and if the twice-divorced American woman Wallis Simpson had been allowed to marry the King. This moment is not part of American history, almost as if it had been intentionally erased. If Madonna's movie serves no other purpose than to turn a younger generation onto that story in an enjoyable way, then it has accomplished its goal.)

At the press conference, Madonna was likable and confident, and seemed, well, rather... human. She looked terrific. She was warm and funny. She said she spent three years researching and writing the film, along with Alek Keshishian. When asked why she didn't do the music, too, she said: "I didn't have time!" But that she loved the soundtrack.

Q: What attracted you to the story?
Madonna: I was swept up by the story of King Edward VIII giving up his power, giving up his throne for love, and I wanted to understand why he did that.

Q: You are the Queen of Pop. Would you ever give up your throne for the man or the woman that you love?
Madonna: I think I can have both... or all three.

Q. As a spiritual person, did you apply more restrictions on yourself to make the movie? Meditate more?
Madonna (laughing): What a question! In order to make a film, which is really hard to do, you have to have strength in your heart, mind and soul to tackle such a big project. You must believe in the subject matter.... Now that I am in Venice, there are no restrictions.

Roman Polanski
Roman Polanski, on the other hand, is not here in Venice because he is afraid the Americans are going to try to snatch him again. Can you imagine such a thing? Well, I certainly can, since William Gill from the State Department itself offered ME a plane ticket "home!" In any event, Polanski has a big hit on his hands called "Carnage," which he adapted from the French play "Le Dieu du Carnage" by Yasmina Reza, who was here -- as was Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly.

Here are a few production notes:

Academy Award-winning director Roman Polanski directs Academy Award-winner Kate Winslet, Academy Award-winner Christoph Waltz, Academy Award-winner Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly in "Carnage," by multi-award winning French playwright and novelist, Yasmina Reza. The production designer is Academy Award-winner Dean Tavolaris; costume designer is Academy Award-winner Milena Canonero; make-up designer is Academy Award-winner Didier Lavergne. Said Ben Said produced; the Director of Photography is Pawel Edelman and Hervé Luze is the editor.

Here's Mike Collett-White's review, entitled

Polanski film cheered for wit, Winslet's vomit

Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog


  1. Madonna seems to run on solar energy, which is only natural since she is a Leo, ruled by the Sun. She is here in Venice to promote, W.E., a film that she not only directed, but also co-wrote.

  2. I too am interested in this film!
    The Venice Film Fest is quickly approaching. I hope you cover it! I will be in Venice next year all of September and I hope to catch a glimpse of the Festival.
    Have you been?

    The Wanderfull Traveler

  3. Um... Murissa, where do you think I am seeing all these films? I AM at the Venice Film Festival!