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Moulin Rouge

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Jun. 13th, 2001 | 04:40 pm

There are people in this world who have decency in their souls and an appreciation for artistic taste and refinement. Then there are people who liked Moulin Rouge.

After seeing this garish cavalcade of stink, I left the theater and rushed to my Web browser, searching for reviews, hoping to indulge myself in a chuckle or two over what I was sure would be scathing reviews.

But most of the reviews weren't scathing. Ebert and Interchangable Asshole gave it two full-toothed, make-sure-the-money-is-in-small-bills thumbs up. Heck, even the wank on NPR's Fresh Air didn't tear it the new bunghole it deserved to have torn. He was cautious. Said it was "flawed" but "satisfying" on several levels.

I suppose it was satisfying, in the same way one feels satisfied when one is really ill and one disburdens oneself of the contents of ones stomach and thus, feels somewhat better.

I was offended not only by the movie--which was ravishingly gorgeous but completely lacking in content, probably much like a roll in the hay with Pamela Anderson--but by the fact that I am obviously drifting so far out of the rapid torrent of mainstream opinion. I was so certain that Moulin Rouge would be universally despised. And now, lo and behold, it's become quite the popular little number.

How can this be? It's like waking up one morning and seeing the sky turned to the color of grass and having no one think this fact odd or unusual. A very disquieting feeling.

Well, I knew it would happen someday. I knew I would fall off the cultural merry-go-round all together and become a bitter, kvetching old woman, taking pot-shots at the "young people" and "that garbage they call entertainment." I just didn't think it would happen at age 32.

What the hell was Baz Luhrmann thinking, anyway? Was he just trying to be original? If so, what was up with the hackneyed, stale, no-good-excuse-for-a plot? How about being original by writing a movie that is interesting, entertaining, AND beautiful to look at? (I want to live in the elephant, by the way.)

It's true, I admit it, visually, this film was an eyepopper. Those reds! Those blues! But instead of redeeming this vastness of suck, the gorgeousness of its production made it's other flaws all the more tragic. Can you imagine a movie this luscious with a real plot? With a real avant-garde edge? That would be too much for most people to bear, I guess. We'd all pass out dead in the theater from an overdose of magnificence and wake up in Heaven and be disappointed at the substandard lighting effects and insufficient color saturation. More gold in the halos, people! More rouge on the archangels! And let's get some top 40 hits playing in the background, can't we? This is HEAVEN, for christ's sake!

Oh, I wanted this movie to be so much better! When I saw the trailer a few weeks ago, I was flattened. My jaw dropped. My heart raced. It was so much like my dreams I couldn't stand it. I honestly felt like crying. And even as the trailer ended, the horrible prayer formed on my lips--please God, don't let this movie suck.

I've only been that seduced by a trailer twice before in my life. The first time was the trailer for Brazil. And that was the most joyous event of my life, because I saw the film and it was actually better than I could have hoped. I stayed in the theater and watched it again before floating home on an orgasmic cloud. Then, there was the trailer for Beetlejuice. I was similarly ravished, and I skipped class to catch the first matinee. But I was betrayed! Beetlejuice stunk! How could it be? How could that fabulous trailer have disguised a film that consisted entirely of Michael Keaton pratfalling and Geena Davis looking all bug-eyed and creepy?

Anyhow, with Moulin Rouge I was determined to keep my chin up and let the chips fall where they might. I maintained my cheerful optimism and cockeyed hope. True to form, I skipped work to see the first matinee. My God, but that was a long five hours. I squirmed in my seat, wondering what mediocre "hit" they were going to butcher next (I would never have thought it possible to butcher "Like a Virgin,"--can you kill a pig that's already dead?--but Luhrmann seems to have taken this as a challenge, rather than a caution.)

The snap for me came at the part of the movie, when Jim Broadbent is talking about "Spectacular Spectacular" and he refers to it as the "all-singing, all-dancing" something or other. At that moment, I couldn't get the Fight Club quote out of my head (nod to Chuck Palanhiuk, like he needs a nod from me): "We are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world."

So true.

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Comments {9}

(no subject)

from: anonymous
date: Jun. 26th, 2001 02:07 pm (UTC)
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It's about Love, and I loved it.

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(no subject)

from: anonymous
date: Jun. 30th, 2001 01:22 pm (UTC)
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It was a good movie and out of the ordinary...

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(no subject)

from: anonymous
date: Jul. 6th, 2001 01:05 am (UTC)
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it made me happy

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boredtech

Moulin Rouge

from: boredtech
date: Jul. 12th, 2001 04:38 pm (UTC)
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Most plots aren't original, no matter what you do with it. The only new thing about it was the manner at which an old plot was presented. I honestly loved the movie, but more for the cinematography, unique use of classic songs, sets, and costuming. It isn't supposed to be realistic, then again an Absinth trip may very well result in the kind of quick shot rapid movements and surrealistic environment found in the first thirty minutes or so. It was meant to be a story from memory and thus not realistic. I personally liked it; then again we all have our opinions.

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Anna

I disliked it

from: anna_from_pa
date: Jul. 18th, 2001 01:05 pm (UTC)
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I honestly don't understand what there is to like about Moulin Rouge, it's pretentious, mediocre, the music sucks. It was so bad...

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Lesley

(no subject)

from: gwenlister
date: Sep. 2nd, 2001 08:18 pm (UTC)
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Whoa there cowboy! Little harsh, aren't we? It isn't like it was the Devil's movie. ;)

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I wholeheartedly agree with you

from: martin_newell
date: Jan. 4th, 2002 09:52 am (UTC)
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Moulin Rouge was an amazingly awful film. Like you, I was stunned by the almost completely positive critical reception it received. I was delighted to read your scathing response to the film. I feel vindicated - thank you!

Not too spend too much time on it, but I almost got the sense that Luhrmann was suggesting that all popular music is the same somehow. That it's OK to use Nirvana and Marilyn Monroe in the same musical number. I was horrified by that little scene with Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman singing all the "Silly Love Songs" to each other. Those songs sould not have been ripped out of their context and mashed together like that. It wasn't clever. It was puerile. I pictured Baz and all of his friends, drunk at his house one night, laughing hysterically at the prospect of making a movie the way a college freshman would make a mix tape. Sadly, they got away with it and fooled so many in the process. The success of this film is further proof of the "dumbing down" of culture.

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M.K. Hobson

Re: I wholeheartedly agree with you

from: mkhobson
date: Jan. 4th, 2002 10:17 am (UTC)
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Luhrmann's icky post-modern "let's throw it all in a blender and pour it on a plate and call it a libretto" experiment haunts me to this day. I think you hit the nail almost on the head when you mentioned a mix tape--but it seems more likely to me that Luhrmann created the mix tape and tried to make up a movie around it.

Awful.

MM

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Re: I wholeheartedly agree with you

from: martin_newell
date: Jan. 5th, 2002 11:56 am (UTC)
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I think you're right. The mix tape probably came first and Luhrmann was too attached to the song order that he couldn't alter it.

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