Every new Madonna video is a major event, and the imagery in almost all of the dozen clips collected here has already entered the realm of popular fantasy as surely as Marilyn's billowing skirt. Madonna plumbs the depths of shallowness like no other boy toy (or girl toy) before her, and somehow manages to win the affection of feminists and misogynists alike in the process. She's a curvy, rich, tough, removed, almost likable Everywoman, fighting racism and getting spiritual in her lingerie and jewels.
Yet few of these hold up as great videos. The only close-to-brilliant piece of filmmaking in Madonna's busy, six-year oeuvre so far is "Open Your Heart," her lone collaboration with the superb director Jean Baptiste Mondino, in which she bravely plays a stripper in a peep show, doing some almost violently sexy dancing while crooning a terrific, incongruously tender love song. This savvy collision says more about her career, and American popular culture, than a hundred reviews.
The two other really terrific clips here are the musical-styled "Material Girl," and "Oh Father." The embarrassing early efforts "Lucky Star" and "Like a Virgin" consist mostly of her writhing on the floor or, as budgets increased, writhing in gondolas. At least in the later clips you get a little redeeming hoofing with the narcissism.