THE V A L L EY INDEPENDENT
Midler reeks ‘Divine Madness’
by J.T. Yurko
Warner Bros Directed by Michael Ritchie, written by Jerry Blatt. Bette Midler, Bruce Vilanch Starring Bette Midler Rated ‘R ‘
Above all Bette Midler is ‘earthy ‘ There is nothing prim about this dame if she had lived in the time of ‘Tom Jones‘ she would have been dubbed a bawdy wench.
Midler does not hesitate to tell the most outrageous jokes, wear a very tight revealing .costume, and moves about on the stage with near abandon.
Indeed Beite Midlef’ has energy to. spare, and she performs with a gusto like few other “performer’s. The self-encouraged to-and-fro motions of the Midler bosom alone could probably light the twin towers of the World Trade Center–an analogy
she would no doubt consider a compliment.
Divine Madness’ is the title of a new film which records the live stage show of one of Midler s concerts.
The frenetic Ms Midler is never content to merely sing a song, she goes all out to perform each song, doing as much acting as vocalizing. Many of the twenty musical numbers m the film are replete with elaborate Changes not only in costume but in scenery as well.
Generally a filmed concert is about as good as its performers The director of the film, in this case Michael Ritchie, can choose elaborate camera angles or positions, but his function is still that of recordist preserving what is there and only
embellishes what he can.
Perhaps the best filmed concert to date was ‘The Last Waltz,’ directed by Martin Scorcese, which superbly chronicled the farewell concert of The Band. ‘ That film had the added advantage of many guest performers such as Bob Dylan, and Joni Mrtchell, while “Divine Madness’ has only one performer. Yet if that performer is Bette Midler, one is enough.
Midler is simply a fantastic performer and she puts on a well paced concert that ranges from beyond the ridiculous to the movingly sublime She leaves little doubt that she is also having a ball throughout the whole thing, exciting the concert hall with her presence.
Generally the movie screen is asbestos to the energy of filmed concerts, but with Bette Midler you can almost feel the heat.