On February 13, the Berlin
Film Festival will premiere Filth & Wisdom, the feature-length
directorial debut of the inimitable Madonna. The “low-budget
music-based comedy” concerns a young musician (Eugene
Hutz of the punk band Gogol Bordello) who moves to London
to follow his dreams, only to become swept up in the sexy sexy
world of S/M. Perhaps. No one really knows what the film’s
about for sure. No matter the plot, here’s hoping she’s better
at telling people how to act than she is at … you know … doing the acting herself.
OK, so maybe that’s a little
harsh. She put in decent performances in both Desperately Seeking
Susan (basically playing herself) and A League of Their Own
(basically playing herself as a 1940s baseball player). But for
every wonderful comic turn she’s done on Saturday Night Live,
there’s an is she really pouring candle wax on a bare-chested
Willem Dafoe agggh I need to go bleach my eyes
turn in something like 1993’s Body of Evidence.
Don’t get me wrong — I loves
me some Madonna. No, really — I loves me some Madonna, and
I only care a little bit that admitting it might make me uncool.
She’s been around so long that I can barely remember life before
Madonna; it just so happens that I feel the same way about Darth
Vader— make of that what you will.
I distinctly remember the first
time I ever saw Madonna. I was spending the night at my grandma’s,
and she let me watch the very first MTV Video Music Awards — yes, this
was way back in 1984. Madonna performed “Like A Virgin” — and of
course, by “performing,” I mean “she rolled around on the stage
in a trashy bridal dress,” but to my young, impressionable eyes she
was a revelation. Girls weren’t supposed to act like that, after
all, and I was instantly hooked.
For more than twenty years
now (crap, that makes me feel old) I’ve been a die-hard Madonna fan,
though I can proudly say I’ve never once tried to imitate her
style. At times in my life, I’ve worn my Madonna fanship on
my sleeve, like the day my mom let me skip school so I could buy
True Blue the second it hit stores, while during other times — like
when I was so totally punk rock that I wore a Butthole Surfers
pin on my jacket, man — Madonna was my dirty little secret.
There’s never been a time
I haven’t loved her, though; I’ve stuck with her through all the
dizzying highs, the depressing lows, and the creamy middles. Yeah,
I bought Sex (the book, I mean; come on, I’m not that
desperate … yet). Sure, I’ve spent more money than Switzerland’s
GNP on concert tickets (but last time I was so close, I could see her
crow’s feet!). I sacrificed an hour of my life watching the
shot in ’79 but released in ‘85 stinker A Certain Sacrifice.
I still hit the record store the day a new release drops, and while her
output certainly hasn’t all been gold, there’s never been a time
she hasn’t made me happy. She’s still a revelation.
Love her or hate her, there’s no denying that Madonna isn’t one
of the most remarkable women to have walked the planet.
She’s been so maligned for
her acting skills — not always unfairly — that I’m really rooting
for her and Filth & Wisdom … and I’ll absolutely be the
first in line when it hits the states.