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."