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Jonas Kerlund

With I'm Going To Tell You A Secret, which documents her "Re-Invention" World Tour on CD and DVD, Madonna turns the world into one big dancefloor. With a staggering 35 #1 dance hits during her unparalleled career, Madonna is the Queen of the Dance Floor, with an unrivaled reputation for astonishing stage spectacles. I'm Going To Tell You A Secret reveals all.

The DVD features Madonna's I'm Going To Tell You A Secret documentary directed by Jonas Kerlund, an unreleased version of the "American Life video", never before-seen footage and more.

The songs on the audio CD were recorded live on Madonna's "Re-Invention" World Tour.

Rated NR

Widescreen 1.78:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English PCM Stereo
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 123 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 6/20/2006

• Audio CD
• 12 Deleted Scenes


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Madonna: I'm Going To Tell You A Secret (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 13, 2007)

In 1991, Madonna caused a sensation with the documentary Truth or Dare. That film showed an uncensored look at her life on tour that shocked and startled many at the time. Would lightning strike twice with 2006’s I’m Going to Tell You a Secret, a view of her 2004 Re-Invention Tour? Nope, for Maddy at 46 was a much more conservative soul than Madonna at 32.

As mentioned, Secret takes us behind the scenes of Madonna’s life as she goes through the Re-Invention Tour in the spring and summer of 2004. It opens with a look at the video piece that opened the concert and shows us the recording of that rendition of “The Beast Within”. From there we go through dancer auditions, rehearsals and the tour’s opening in LA. After that, we follow Madonna on the road to Madison Square Garden, Chicago – and a pit stop at her dad’s vineyard - Las Vegas, Miami, London, Dublin, Paris and Lisbon. The tour ended there, but the film doesn’t conclude until we accompany Madonna on her trip to Israel.

In addition to Madonna, we get remarks from a slew of folks. We hear from musical director Stuart Price, how director Jamie King, dancers Mirhan Kirakosian, Seth Stewart, Raistalla Moise, Reshma Gajjar, Jason Young, Aries Smith, Zach Woodlee, Marlyn Ortiz, Paul Kirkland, Dawn Noel, Tamara Levinson, Cloud Campos, and Serge Ventura, bagpipe player – and attorney by day – Lorne Cousin, husband Guy Ritchie, documentarian Michael Moore, father Silvio Ciccone, kids Lourdes and Rocco, dresser Tony Villanueva, spiritual teacher Eitan Yardini, musician Iggy Pop, personal assistant Angela Becker, and “Palestinian peacemaker” Elias Jabour.

Half tour documentary and half spiritual tract, Secret will likely find a divided audience as well. How you react to the documentary will probably reflect your take on Madonna herself. Fans like me will be able to essentially ignore the self-serving moments and enjoy the tour elements. We’ll also like the glimpse behind the curtain at Madonna on the road.

Those with less of an interest in Maddy will probably find it tough to get past all of the preachiness. To be sure, I don’t question that Madonna feels deeply about the material she imparts, and I think it’s good that she wants to do something to benefit others; that’s clearly her goal. However, it can be tough to sit through all of the moments that document her spiritual thoughts. Frankly, I doubt many will care, and those moments make the program drag.

When Secret focuses on other aspects of Madonna’s life, however, it proves satisfying. It seems very surprising to see how nervous she gets before she plays, and she also displays an almost shocking level of insecurities. While Madonna shows plenty of ego, I interpret some of that as a defense mechanism; she appears rather unsure of herself in many ways and may come across as arrogant to compensate. Who’d think that someone as successful as Madonna could appear so insecure?

Additional dime store psychology will certainly accompany the scenes that show Madonna’s relationship with Ritchie. Various folks have speculated on marital woes between the two since the minute they wed, and those people will probably glom onto the way this flick shows them. They certainly don’t seem very warm toward each other, and the fact that Guy always calls her “Mrs. Ritchie” may speak of his own insecurities about being the much-less-famous part of the couple. At one point, Madonna’s narration even attempts to explain the lack of apparent warmth between the two.

So does this mean their marriage is a sham and they really don’t care for each other? Perversely, I think the lack of strong affection makes a case that they do really have a decent relationship. If they didn’t, then I don’t think Madonna would’ve allowed this material to make the movie. She’d go out of her way to fake a lovey-dovey situation with Guy and not less us see all the snags. I don’t know the truth and honestly don’t much care, but given the couple’s public prominence, I think these moments become more interesting.

While about the Re-Invention Tour, Secret doesn’t actually show us much of that trek. We get renditions of 10 songs: “Vogue”, “American Life”, “Mother and Father”, “Nobody Knows Me”, “Music”, “Hollywood” (Remix), “Lament”, “Like a Prayer”, “Holiday” and “Imagine”. However, with one exception, not a single one of these presents a complete performance. Some come close, but only “Hollywood” gives us the entire song. That’s a perverse choice since it’s the one that doesn’t feature Madonna; meant to give her time to leave the stage and change costumes, it focuses on her dancers. They do a variety of circus-like stunts and it’s fun, but it wouldn’t be my choice as the tune I most wanted to see.

This means that Madonna fans who want to see the Re-Invention Tour will have to wait for a DVD that depicts that show – when/if one ever appears. Secret offers glimpses of the live performance but not nearly enough to satisfy in that domain. The editing of the clips makes it even worse, as they incorporate video bits in such a way that can turn them nearly incoherent at times.

Though parts of I’m Going to Tell You a Secret frustrate, it remains a reasonably entertaining program. It probably will be most interesting for Madonna’s most serious fans, though. Those in search of the broader titillation of Truth or Dare will leave disappointed.

The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

Madonna: I’m Going to Tell You a Secret appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Because it mixed a lot of visual styles, it became tough to offer a comprehensive evaluation of the picture quality. That said, within those parameters, I thought Secret usually looked good.

Much of the film came with black and white visuals. All of the live performances were in color, and a few non-concert shots offered colors as well. For the black and white material, we got a bit of grain and erratic focus. Though most of those shots seemed accurate and concise, the “on the fly” nature of the photography meant some less than stellar definition. Nonetheless, these bits were usually reasonably well-defined. Some intentional source flaws popped up, but I didn’t see anything that didn’t look like it was put there on purpose. Blacks were reasonably dark, and shadows seemed fine.

The non-stage color sequences followed similar lines, but the concert shots offered the movie’s strongest images. Those presented pretty solid definition. A little softness crept into some wide shots, but the clips usually stayed concise and accurate. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I detected no edge enhancement. These also lacked source flaws.

For the live shots, colors seemed very good. A couple of instances were a little runny, but most of the scenes appeared vibrant and dynamic. Blacks appeared taut and full, while the few low-light bits came across well. The ups and downs meant the DVD got a “B” for visuals, but it seemed to represent the source material well.

Also subject to the nature of the documentary elements, I thought the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack worked fine. As with the visuals, the live concert shots succeeded best. These used all the speakers to good effect. While the music favored the front – where it gave us nice stereo imaging – it also utilized the surrounds in a strong manner. This was especially evident during “American Life”, which placed the stage audio effects in the back speakers. Other songs put music there but not in a busy, scattered manner. Instead, the surrounds added life to the proceedings beyond the usual crowd noise.

As for the non-concert bits, they tended to be more monaural, but not exclusively show. Indeed, they broadened to the sides with reasonably delineation and managed to bring some depth to the flick. They weren’t as involving as the concert parts, but they seemed good.

Across the board, audio quality pleased. Again, the concert parts were the best, as they showed rich, vibrant music. Speech was always clear and concise in any setting, and effects sounded lively and accurate. Bass response could be quite good, especially during the live shots. Overall, this was a satisfying soundtrack.

When it comes to extras, the main attraction is a bonus CD. This features 13 songs from the Re-Invention show along with an alternate version of “I Love New York”, a tune that ended up on 2005’s Confessions from the Dance Floor. As for the concert tracks, we get “The Beast Within”, “Vogue”, “Nobody Knows Me”, “American Life”, “Hollywood” (Remix), “Die Another Day”, “Lament”, “Like a Prayer”, “Mother and Father”, “Imagine”, “Susan McLeod/Into the Groove”, “Music” and “Holiday”. That means we fail to find the following Re-Invention tunes: “Express Yourself”, “Burning Up”, “Material Girl”, “Hanky Panky”, “Deeper and Deeper”, “Nothing Fails”, “Don’t Tell Me”, “Papa Don’t Preach” and “Crazy For You”.

If we could buy a DVD of the full Re-Invention show, I’d not particularly mind the omissions. However, as of February 2007, this CD offers our only auditory examination of the 2004 concert, and I have no idea when or if we’ll find get a Re-Invention DVD.

Because of that, I really wish they’d expanded the CD to two discs so we could have the full concert. The choices are especially puzzling and frustrating since a few of them are fairly pointless. Both “The Beast Within” and “Hollywood” offer pre-recorded tracks and aren’t live. Couldn’t we have gotten two actually live performances in those slots? Since there’s no other Re-Invention product currently on the market, I’m happy to have this CD – something’s better than nothing – but it still disappoints to some degree.

12 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 15 minutes, 38 seconds. We see Madonna on a bike ride and hear more about her beliefs and spiritual desires. Madonna works with vocal coach Joan Leder, hear her personal definition of “chaos”, and go to her 46th birthday party and the Wailing Wall. Madonna discusses her affinity for the French and reflections on worrying and her job. A few clips also offer a weird gay romance between musical director Stuart Price and Steve Sidelnyk, and we see musician Monte shdjksa’s “guitar faces”. Another snippet shows a Parisian crowd as they sing “Like a Prayer”. None of these are particularly memorable.

Finally, the package includes a 20-page booklet. It presents some photos along with credits. Most of the pictures lack great clarity and this ends up as an extraneous component.

Though I’m Going to Tell You a Secret documents Madonna’s 2004 Re-Invention Tour, it fails to provide a whole lot of stage shots. Actually, I guess we get more than a few, but the lack of complete songs causes disappointment. Still, it entertains most of the time and provides a decent view of Madonna on tour circa 2004. The DVD features pretty good picture and audio along with extras highlighted by a live CD. While I don’t think casual fans will care much for Secret, it’s appealing for die-hards such as myself.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.5217 Stars Number of Votes: 23
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