Divine Madness

Concert films are unquestionably the lowest form of cinema, but this well-paced, well-shot adaptation of Bette Midler's stage show is a pleasant exception. Moving between genres, cutting from vocals to stand-up comedy, Midler demonstrates an emotional range far beyond the soggy bathos of The Rose. Shooting in 'Scope, director Michael Ritchie fills the frame intelligently, using long shots to allow Midler to hold the stage instead of isolating her in the usual grainy close-ups. His use of the Steadicam for close-in, handheld shots has a technological fascination all its own. William A. Fraker is the cinematographer; he's our best night cameraman, and he works wonders with the darkened interior of the auditorium.

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