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

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The Independent Culture

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.

Earlier on Thursday, rounds of applause and riotous laughter met Roman Polanski's grotesque comedy of manners "Carnage" at the press screening ahead of the world premiere in the evening.

The screen adaptation of playwright Yasmina Reza's acclaimed Broadway play "The God of Carnage", Polanski's film tells the tale of two sets of parents who meet up to talk after their children get into a fight at school.

Electric comic timing and star performances from an A-list cast of Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly and Christopher Waltz drive the film, shot in real time as the adults try settle the dispute with unpredictable twists.

Though "Carnage" is set in Brooklyn, it was shot in Paris as the French-Polish director is unable to travel freely because he is wanted in the United States following a conviction there for unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

Fears of extradition from other European countries - notably Italy, which has a long history of cooperation with the United States - means Polanski will not be present on the red carpet Thursday evening.

Critics will inevitably draw a comparison between Polanski's status and the film's claustrophobic atmosphere, with the use of close-up shots, mirrored reflections and characters who pace back and forth in a tiny apartment.

Winslet is expected to wow paparazzi at the premiere along with a host of other Hollywood greats including Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon and Keira Knightley.

"W.E." and "Carnage" are in the running for the Golden Lion award at Venice this year against a host of other films, including Wei Te-Sheng's "Seediq Bale", a fierce Taiwanese epic featuring warring tribes.

With a record production cost of 24 million dollars, "Seediq Bale" brings to the big screen the true story about a rebellion of aboriginal tribes against their Japanese colonial rulers in Taiwan in 1930 - and their ultimate defeat.

Produced by renowned Hong Kong-based director John Woo - whose Hollywood films include "Face Off" and "Mission Impossible 2" - the film alternates between fight scenes and moments of spiritual anguish for the proud tribesmen.

Over 12 years in the making, "Seediq Bale" features a cast of 15,000.

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