Movie review: Moulin Rouge!

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The third and most successful of Baz Luhrmann's "Red Curtain" trilogy (also includes Strictly Ballroom and Romeo + Juliet), Moulin Rouge! was a smash hit and was nominated for 8 Oscars, including Best Picture, winning two (Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design).  It is an over-the-top visual spectacle, which appropriates plenty of love songs in its retelling of various operas.  A totally unique cinematographic accomplishment, it's a lot of fun to watch, even if it can get tiring.

Ewan McGregor's Christian is a pennyless Scottish writer who moves to Paris during the late 1800s to be a part of the Bohemian Revolution and gets involved in a group of actors who are trying to get a play ready for Zidler (Jim Broadbent) and the famous Moulin Rouge.  He meets the incomparable Satine (a very sultry Nicole Kidman, who fractured ribs and injured her knee practicing a dance for the movie), a courtesan of immense reputation, and gets involved with her.  At the same time, though, she is courted by The Duke (Richard Roxburgh) and his money. But Satine is also battling consumption and time is running out in more ways than one.

The first time I saw this movie, I was completely blown away.  The visuals are simply incredible and the action and camera work frenetic.  I also loved the way contemporary love songs are melded into the storyline, and trying to guess what the song is.  The only original song for the movie, "Come What May", is definitely the weakest.  I liked it so much I went out and bought the DVD.  But unfortunately, repeated viewings make the unique look just get tiring.  It stops being fascinating and you wish Luhrmann would just calm down a bit.

But it had been a while since I last saw it, and it was the first time on my new HDTV, so it didn't come off as badly.  This despite the fact I just couldn't get the DVD player and the TV to agree on a display, as the TV insisted on giving me black bars on the top and bottom.  I'll need to work on the technical parts of this a little more. As I've also gotten more into absinthe since the last time I watched it, we had fun playing "spot the absinthe glass" while watching it too. The two DVD set I have has lots of cool extras, including a spot where you can play editor yourself, as it shows three of the dances with four cameras and you can select which one on the fly.  There's two commentary tracks (I haven't listened to either) and various music videos and isolated songs.  Lots of good stuff here!

I wonder why Luhrmann hasn't been up to much since Moulin?  Looks like perhaps directing for the stage and other things, although he seems to be working on a new movie staring Nicole Kidman called Australia.  He has a truly unique vision and I hope he can produce more movies.



2 Comments

[c’est top] MR is one of those movies that completely divides people --- they either love it or hate it. I love it. I have seen it so many times and each time I see something new. I know Luhrmann did the Chanel No. 5 ads that Nicole Kidman starred in. Other than that, I haven't heard much about him lately.

Actually, I find myself swinging wildly from the love to hate and back again camps.  Some viewings are swell and other times are painful. This last time wasn't so bad.

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on February 23, 2007 6:12 AM.

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