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Buzz Movie Weekend

So, this was the weekend I finally got around to seeing some of those movies that everybody had been talking about when they came out. Namely Moulin Rouge and O Brother, Where Art Thou?.

My preconceptions about these movies turned out to be “mostly” wrong, and I actually ended up liking both of them more than I assumed that I would. more…

Moulin Rouge:
Whether you’ve seen this one or not, it was so heavily promoted you’re probably familiar with the gimmick of the thing. Our hero, Christian, is the greatest poet ever. His “great” verse is borrowed from the lyrics of pop songs. But it’s all played straight. That is, since he is writing in Paris in 1900, he’s obviously never heard of The Beatles or Elton John. So, while the lyrics are theirs, in the world of the film, they are in fact Christian’s (and the rest of the casts too which is one of the places where I think that the conceit all falls apart – better if it was just him expressing these words I think).

It sounds pretty corny, and in practice it is kind of corny about 20% of the time. However, the visuals in the film are SO SPECTACULAR, that for most of the film you (or at least I) are so mesmerized you don’t even notice how goofy the gimmick is. The artistry of this film is some of the best I’ve ever seen. I don’t know how much of the credit for that goes to the director, Baz Luhrmann, or how much goes to the Director of Photography, Donald M. McAlpine¬†. They both worked on the only other Luhrmann film I’m familiar with, Romeo + Juliet, so it’s hard to say which one is more responsible for the look and feel. It is stunning though.

I was wrong about Nicole Kidman too. I had assumed she would be the only part of this movie that I would actually enjoy. I have a bit of a thing for red heads, and she is gorgeous – really one of the most striking actresses working today. I’ve also enjoyed her acting in previous projects like Dead Calm or To Die For. In this one though, she really sticks out like a sore thumb. I don’t know what it is, but every time she’d come on screen, it would yank me out of the movie so fast it would almost make me cringe. Maybe it’s that the roll requires the movement of a dancer – which she can’t bring to it, or maybe it’s that for all of the absurdity of the piece most everybody was playing it kind of straight, albeit straight in a really, super over-the-top kind of way. While she was playing it more tongue in cheek. I don’t know, but whatever it was, she ruins the move for me, and that 20% of the time where the lyrics don’t work are almost all due to her presence on screen.

Still, this was a remarkable film that was much, much, much better than I was expecting it to be.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?:
This one was a gift from some friends of mine who were pretty sure that I would like it. Without their gift/recommendation, I may never have seen this one. Even if it were to come on one of the movie channels, it didn’t look interesting enough to me that I would have been likely to seek it out.

I have sort of mixed feelings about the Coen brothers. I LOVED The Hudsucker Proxy, while almost everybody else who I’ve ever discussed the movie with hated it. Conversely, almost everybody seems to love Raising Arizona while I hate that one (although that may have been an age thing – I may need to revisit it). So, I went into this assuming that since a lot of people seemed to like O Brother, I probably wouldn’t.

But, this is another one that was pretty much what I expected but still better than I thought. I assumed this was all about George Clooney running around all bug-eyed trying to act comical in an old-style silent movie type of way. And, it is that in a way, but he’s actually much better at doing that than the clips I’d seen would have led me to believe. And, the movie is more interesting than I would have assumed as well.

It’s been a while since I’ve read the Odyssey, upon which the movie was loosely based. Actually, I think I was like 11 or 12 when I read it, so I don’t remember very much. Still, it was easy enough to spot the Sirens, and the Cyclops. I didn’t really get any of the other references though. I may need to go back and re-read the Odyssey. I have this exceptional annotated copy that I picked up about a year ago and just haven’t had a chance to go through yet.

Anyway, I would recommend both movies. They are much better than their previews led me to believe.

One Response to “Buzz Movie Weekend”

  1. starla says:

    I’m a friend of Beth’s. I LOVED Moulin Rouge and O’ Brother. Most people don’t get these movies but try to overanalyze them instead of enjoying their silliness and the cool use of music. Loved the music so much that I bought the soundtracks for both movies- and I’m mostly a heavy metal lover. I tend to not like the kind of people that didn’t love Moulin Rouge or O’ Brother.

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