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September 2011

Liz Smith on the reaction W.E.

P.S. Word from Venice is that the Italians love 'W.E.' Even Britain’s acerbic entertainment writer Baz Bamigboye gives it four stars in The Daily Mail. Madonna expects the reviews to be mixed, but is confident that she has done her very best. The dazzling director has been in 'total star mode' along the canals, and in her press conferences - 'brilliant and profoundly interesting' says one observer.
When Madonna appeared for her press conference, she wore a demure dress, with a big crucifix dangling. 'How do I look?' she asked a member of the entourage. 'Great, honey,' came the response. 'But this is Italy. Your nun’s habit could have been a bit lower cut!'

From - thanks to Alex

BBC Interview: Madonna on Simpson and sound bites

Madonna has said that she wanted to reveal the human and vulnerable side of Wallis Simpson in her new film.
W.E. looks at the life of the woman that King Edward VIII fell in love in the 1930s. He abdicated the throne so he could marry the divorcee.
The music icon was speaking exclusively to the BBC's Will Gompertz in Venice, where the film had its premiere on Friday.

To view the clip click on the picture below or visit

In a bedroom with Madonna

BBC Arts editor Will Gompertz describes exactly what went on when he went to the press junket in Venice to interview Madonna about W.E.

The press junket interview is a strange affair. It's a cross between that moment in the Apprentice when the young hopefuls go to face the music with Lord Sugar and a visit to the doctor. It is not glamorous - even when Madonna is the interviewee.
I am to go in fifth, after Norway, Portugal, Russia and Switzerland have each had their individual six minutes with the iconic pop star and rookie movie director. We have all converged in the corridor of a exclusive hotel in Venice where her film W.E premiered last night at the Film Festival.
The heat is stifling: there is no air conditioning. Still at least there will be once I get into the hotel suite with the diminutive director.
Wrong. Norway has just emerged to say the air conditioning is switched off in the room because it makes too much noise when the recording equipment is switched on.
Who cares, we shrug as one, tell us what was she like. 'Nice', Norway responds. 'Long or short answers,' we ask? 'Long,' Norway sighs.
This is not good. In a non-negotiable six minutes, long answers equal dead time and a sharp reduction in the amount of questions you can ask.
And these are television interviews, and television doesn't really go for long answers. What's more half the questions means half the chance of getting a decent line from the interview. A tactical re-think is required.
Eighteen minutes later - with the precision of a military operation - Switzerland emerges from the hotel suite with a contented, if slightly flushed, demeanour.
It is my turn. Normally at this stage I would walk in with a BBC camera person and a producer. But today there is no BBC camera as Madonna's people insisted on recording this interview.
I am ushered into a tiny bedroom. A row of six or so chairs lines the wall, upon which unidentified people sit. My name and organisation is read out from a list, at which point a blonde head peers around the corner. 'This is Madonna,' I am told.

To read the rest of Will's story on how the interview went and why a mix-up led meant the world had to wait until her interviews were seen visit

Analysis from inside the W.E. press conference

BBC News arts editor Will Gompertz had this interesting take on how the press reacted to Madonna at the W.E. press conference:

Madonna's movie is about a woman defined by her public profile, whose character is assassinated by a thousand critical soundbites.
You can see why the story of Wallis Simpson appealed to The Material Girl. She said as much in the press conference this afternoon. And what a strange event that was; again reflecting Madonna's life back into the themes of her movie.
Most press functions are staid and rather dull affairs. Not Madonna's. The huge conference room was packed, snappers jostled for position along the sides and a mountain of TV crews bulged from the back wall. As the rookie director took to the stage a round of spontaneous clapping and cheering broke out.
After half-an-hour or so of pleasantries, the proceedings were brought to an end, at which point something truly extraordinary happened.
What must have been 500-or-so members of the press left their seats (and their senses) en masse and flooded forward to the stage where Madonna was sitting, frantically waving their programmes in the air and begging for an autograph.
I have never seen anything like it.

The Daily Telegraph review of W.E.

UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph gave lots of coverage to Madonna's W.E. - including a large picture on the front cover - and reviewer David Gritten gave a reasonable 3/5 stars review for the film itself.

A film directed by Madonna that deals in part with the love affair between King Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson? A curious notion, and not truly an enticing one. Yet W.E. is rather better than expected; it’s bold, confident and not without amusing moments.

To read the full review visit

Thanks to Alex

Screen Daily review of W.E.

Madonna heads back behind the camera for W.E., an elegantly woven story linking a modern New Yorker’s desire for true love with the passionate relationship between American Wallis Simpson and King George VII. It is a beautifully staged film punctuated with nuggets of charm and style and dominated by a majestic performance by rising star Andrea Riseborough as Wallis.

To read the full review visit

Thanks to Gareth

Press Pictures: W.E. Premiere

Madonna and the cast of W.E. attended the world premiere of the film at the Venice Film Festival last night. Madonna wore a floor-length dove-grey gown adorned with red butterflies, created especially for her by Italian designer Vionnet.

Pictures from AP / Reuters Via Yahoo! News

Madonna thanks exes for encouraging movie career

Pop star Madonna thanked her ex-husbands for encouraging her to take up a career in movies, as she arrived in Venice on Thursday for the world premiere of her lavish royal drama 'W.E.'
The 53-year-old American has been married to actor and director Sean Penn and British film maker Guy Ritchie - and has spent much of the last few years behind the camera rather than on the stage.
W.E., her second feature film, appears at the Venice film festival outside the main competition, but the presence of one of the world's biggest celebrities inevitably dominated the attention of the world's press.
'I am and was attracted to very creative people which is why I married Sean Penn and Guy Ritchie, two very talented directors,' Madonna told reporters after a press screening of W.E.
'They both encouraged me as a director and as a creative person to do what I did, and they were both very supportive,' added the singer, who wore a short-sleeved black dress with white trim.
There was applause for the movie after the first screening and one early review, in the Daily Telegraph, gave W.E. three stars out of five.
'Her version of their (the Windsors') lives is a fantasia that will not trouble historians,' wrote David Gritten. 'Yet oddly, that's a relief after so many stale, plodding TV documentaries about this unlovely couple.'
Madonna said she saw parallels between herself and Simpson, a woman who was vilified by many for her role in a constitutional crisis but who is sympathetically portrayed in W.E. by Andrea Riseborough.
Like Simpson, Madonna is a woman who lives her life in the public glare, and is also an American who moved to England for several years while married to Ritchie.
'I identified with her in that I think it's very common when people become celebrities or public figures or icons that we are often reduced to a soundbite and that you're given a few attributes and then you're not allowed to have anything more than that,' she said.
'I did go through periods of feeling like I was an outsider when I first moved to England.'
'I certainly didn't feel like that by the time I'd lived there for 10 years. And I feel, since I moved there, that I feel very welcomed by England.'
Asked why she chose Simpson as a subject, Madonna replied:
'I was deeply and utterly swept up in trying to understand the reason that this man, King Edward VIII...would relinquish this great position of power for love.'
She added that she hoped the success of 'The King's Speech,' set at the same time and in a similar world to W.E., would help, not harm her project.
'I was a little bit nervous, because I thought, 'oh dear, if someone else is making a movie about the same time-frame, then who would be interested in my movie?'
'But then I saw the film and I saw that it was from a completely different point of view and I view the success of that film as sort of laying the groundwork for my movie.'
'So there is a little bit of history and a little bit of knowledge and we are not starting with a blank slate.'

From Reuters Via Yahoo! News

'Queen of Pop' Madonna says she can have it all

Madonna jokingly defended her title as 'Queen of Pop' Thursday, quipping she would never give up her throne for love like King Edward VIII - the subject of her latest film screened in Venice.
The blonde diva's second directorial work, 'W.E.', starring British actors James D'Arcy and Andrea Riseborough, tells the tale of the king's famous romance with American divorcee Wallis Simpson - and his subsequent abdication.
'Would I ever give up my throne for a man or a woman?' a flirtatious Madonna said after the advance press screening at the 68th Venice Film Festival.
'I think I can have both...or all three!' she told journalists.
The star - looking sleek and glamorous in a black dress and high cream collar pinned with a sparkling jewel cross - had sped across the lagoon from the luxury Bauer hotel on Venice's Grand Canal where she is staying.
Madonna said she had wanted to capture the 'world of luxury, beauty and decadence' of the 1930s, as well as the 'rarefied air in the modern world', which is also one of wealth and sensuality, but 'does not guarantee happiness'.
The controversial passion between the king and extravagant socialite Wallis is told through the eyes of a lonely modern-day New Yorker, desperately seeking the fairytale happy ending that she believes the famous couple had.
The cinematography alternates between sharp images drawn out by Wallis's striking red lipstick or startling blue eyes, and grainy, hand-held camera shots evoking the bridge linking the two dramas across history.
Costume designer Arianne Phillips worked extensively with labels such as Cartier, Dior, and Dunhill to recreate Wallis's extraordinary appetite for fashion and exquisite, enormous collection of jewels and shoes.
Style icon Madonna said there were 'elements of myself' in the film, and said she could sympathise with Wallis as an outsider, an American living in London.
'I empathize with Wallis. Public figures or icons are often just reduced to a soundbite, just a handful of attributes. I think people tried to diminish her...I tried to make her human,' she said.

From AFP Relax News Via Yahoo! News

Madonna makes us all fall in love with Mrs Simpson

The first full review for Madonna's W.E. has been published - and even though it from UK newspaper the Daily Mail - the review is good!

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.
But if they were to watch it with no knowledge of who directed, they would be pleasantly surprised. They might even find much of it enjoyable, although the odd moment may have them wondering if Madge has committed treason.
Whatever your feelings about Ms Ciccone, it’s impossible to refute that her film brings to the screen one of the most compelling love stories in history.
It also happens to be one of the best-dressed movies of the year. The costumes, as you would expect from the original material girl, are eye-popping. In fact, the whole thing looks fantastic - it’s designer Viagra.

To read the full review by Baz Bamigboye visit

Thanks to Gary