Walter Mencken 2:08 p.m., Aug. 27
Madonna as Auteur
I'll have more to say about comedians who fancy themselves rock singers in my upcoming review of Conan O'Brien Can't Stop. For now, let us turn our attention to singers whose visions are so vast they defy the biggest recording studios, largest Jumbotrons and most expansive concert venues in the land. Only a spot in the director's chair and the biggest motion screen can accommodate their scary genius.
Move over Barbra Streisand (Yentl, Prince of Tides), Frank Sinatra (None But the Brave), Noel Coward (In Which We Serve, with David Lean), Paul Simon (One Trick Pony), Bob Dylan (Renaldo and Clara), John Mellencamp (Falling from Grace), Prince (Under the Cherry Moon), Ice Cube (The Player's Club), and The Beatles (Magical Mystery Tour): The Weinstein Company (TWC) has acquired U.S. distribution rights for Madonna's directorial debut, W.E.
Every year, the Weinsteins seem to trot out a prestige British production to woo Academy voters. Given Madge's affinity for affecting a Cockney accent, this could be TWC's big Oscar submission for 2012.
According to the press release, the romantic drama spans six decades and "juxtaposes a contemporary love story with that of King Edward VIII and American divorcée Wallis Simpson." The film stars Abbie Cornish (Bright Star), Oscar Isaac (Drive), James D’Arcy (Master and Commander), and James Fox (The Servant, Performance).
Admittedly, I have yet to log Bobby Darin's The Vendors or Dinner at George's, the Sammy Davis, Jr. directed episode of Sanford and Son, but has there ever been a good movie directed by a popular recording artist? The unintentionally uproarious The Conqueror notwithstanding, former juvenile lead-turned-recording artist, Dick Powell, (Split Second, The Enemy Below) is probably the most artistically successful of the bunch.
After several phone calls to esteemed colleagues, and an hour or so of personal brain-racking, two warbling auteurs, whose contributions to cinema compliment their musical talents, came to mind: Judy Collins, who, along with Jill Godmilow, is credited with co-directing Antonia: A Portrait of the Woman and Rob Zombie (House of 1,000 Corpses, The Devil's Rejects). Collins's contributions to Antonia undoubtedly had more to do with her name recognition helping to get the documentary financed than any directorial involvement. Zombie's splatter epics are affectionate, finely-detailed, and excessively bloody homages to '70s drive-in schlock.
May we only be spared the names Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus above the title.
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