Tuesday, May 29, 2012

959. Moulin Rouge! (2001)

Running Time: 127 minutes
Directed By: Baz Luhrmann
Written By: Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce
Main Cast: Ewan McGregor, Nicole Kidman, Jim Broadbent, Richard Roxburgh, John Leguizamo
Click here to view the trailer


For the curious, "Welles Week" will commence tomorrow and conclude this week, but for now, since I'm still waiting on "Touch of Evil" to arrive from Netflix, we celebrate Memorial Day weekend by visiting Paris, France at the turn of the century and a cabaret known as the Moulin Rouge!

Christian (McGregor) has come to Paris, at the turn of the century, to pursue his writing career. As he sits in his room, waiting for his creative juices to flow, he is intruded on by a group of performers, led by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (Leguizamo). The performers had been rehearsing for a play when one of their lead members, a narcoleptic, fell asleep. Toulouse-Lautrec requests the help of Christian to help them fill the part, so they can resume rehearsals. Christian helps them out and in the process, proves he is a talented writer, when he helps them sort out some lyrics to one of their lead songs. The play their writing is called "Spectacular Spectacular" and they plan to shop the script to Harold Zidler (Broadbent), owner of the Moulin Rouge. At the Moulin Rouge, the swankiest cabaret in all of Paris, Zidler serves up a buffet of a bevy of women, most notably his "Sparkling Diamond" Satine (Kidman), the star of Zidler's cabaret and soon to be star of "Spectacular Spectacular". When Toulouse-Lautrec's play is given the green light, he insists that Christian stay on, due to his immeasurable talent. Now, all Zidler needs is financing from The Duke (Roxburgh), which he gets in exchange for Satine's hand. However, after an evening together, Satine and Christian fall head over heels in love and now they must keep their romance a secret to avoid The Duke pulling the plug on the entire production.

"Moulin Rouge!" is entertainment personified! It's a living, breathing script that sparkles on the screen, is full of life and doesn't let up until the big, red curtain falls.  I can see where this picture might not be something for everyone, but it worked for me and I was nothing but entertained by the entire production. It's a truly unique musical, one that uses previously popular songs like "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana, "Your Song" by Elton John, "Like A Virgin" by Madonna and "Roxanne" by The Police and transforms them in an original way, to fit this script. Speaking of the script, that's another marvelous piece of the puzzle, as you basically have a movie going on within this movie, as the play that Christian writes mirrors what's actually going on in the film itself. The film uses the aforementioned music to fill in the story, allowing the music and the actions of the characters to work as dialogue and key plot points. For example, the "Elephant Love Medley" (which features songs from The Beatles, Phil Collins, Elton John, U2 and Whitney Houston) is used to have the characters of Satine and Christian fall in love, without the use of dialogue, actions or any other, non-musical communication. It's quite genius really!

The lead actors do a fine job, as Nicole Kidman has never looked more stunning, but it's really the secondary players that make your acting chops salivate, as Jim Broadbent and Richard Roxburgh steal the show as Zidler and The Duke respectively. There are times when everything DOES seem a bit over the top, but then you realize it's a musical and in the interest of entertaining it went big and succeeded. You may need to sit back from the screen during the finale, as there are so many sparkling and luminescent images covering the screen, that it may just throw you into a seizure. "Moulin Rouge!" is, perhaps, the last great musical ever produced and I'm sure Busby Berkeley and Bob Fosse would be proud of the grandeur that is on showcase in this one. I'm sure it's an easy film to hate, but I couldn't help but love it.

RATING: 8/10  Couldn't go all the way, but it's a fun movie and if you're a fan of classic musicals, this is almost like a throwback to them.


May 29, 2012  1:23am

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