Moulin Rouge! (USA/UK/Australia, 2001)

moulin_rougeDirected by: Baz Luhrmann. So, as with Across the Universe, I have to disclaim that I’m not really a fan of musicals in the first place. With Across the Universe, I was willing to set it aside because I had finally heard the whole Beatles discography and I thought: “What the hell?” For this one, it’s been on  my radar awhile, I love Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, it’s a classic of my generation that I hadn’t seen, I’ve found Luhrmann’s other stuff interesting, and he’s got a new one out this year, so I thought: “what the hell?” Now that it’s all over, I can honestly say that it was almost exactly like I thought it would be: over the top, absurdly exaggerated, with bouts of extreme, nausea-inducing hyperediting, bouts of nausea-inducing, postmodern jigsaw puzzles of high-production karaoke, and extreme highs and lows of teenage love and lovesickness. In general, I admire it when art can capture that feeling, because that hallucinatory intensity of emotion that those formative years often produces is often the most intense collection of emotion most of us are likely to experience in such a short time, and with almost no mental or emotional tools to handle it at the time. This is basically what this movie is, and it’s no wonder it appealed so much to teenage girls at the time (and even today I guess). It’s completely traditional, as old-fashioned as Don Quixote, yet as contemporary as MTV. It’s fast, it’s annoying, it’s insufferable even: but again, compared to Across the Universe, this thing is a fucking masterpiece. Moulin Rouge! at least gives me the basic story—and a story within a story—that I thought was so lacking in Julie Taymor’s musical. As with Australia, it’s over the top, it’s too much to take seriously, but at least Luhrmann lets his characters develop, lets you care about the characters instead of pushing you away from them. This movie even has the same opening as Across the Universe: the dumb, mopey male hero moping about his lost love and imploring the viewer to “hear my sad tale, as I will unfold it” etc. So, as much as I really didn’t care for this movie as a film, it at least gave me some more ammunition to fire into Across the Universe which, among its other faults that I outlined at the time, I can also say is pretty unoriginal. It’s pretty obvious now, after seeing Luhrmann’s culturally influential, nearly incoherent hyper-musical that it must have been the only reason why any studio would ever think of funding something as grotesque and straight-up incoherent as Taymor’s musical. Maybe, come to think of it, that’s a fault that I can chalk up to Luhrmann if I want. In the meantime, I’ve seen it, I am a bit more informed on my culture, and I never have to watch it again. I am, however, curious enough that I’ve got to see what the hell he’s going to do to The Great Gatsby.

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One response to “Moulin Rouge! (USA/UK/Australia, 2001)

  1. Pingback: Filth (UK, 2013) | Offhand Reviews·

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