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Entries in Moulin Rouge! (20)

Tuesday
Jul222014

Happy 50th to the Inimitable John Leguizamo

Happy 50th to the enduring character actor and one man show trouper John Leguizamo. He has his first (film) hit in years this summer as part of the ensemble of Chef and he's arguably even its secret weapon; his cheerful sideline energy helps cut the sometimes sour taste of the movie's vaguely offputting self pitying / self aggrandizing central character business featuring Jon Favreau.

But Leguizamo has been doing that for years, significantly boosting or even altering the energy of pictures he was fourth or fifth or, you know, twelfth billed in. It's true that his brand of sideline showmanship often teeters towards hardly altruistic hamminess; he's an unrepetant scene stealer. But it was a treat to see him again, I raedily admit, and so shortly after I happened to watch his most recent one man show "Ghetto Klown" on cable or streaming or something (I forget) wherein he talks about this impending 50th birthday, the disintegration of his film career and trying to get things back on track. 

That story has a happy ending given that it's hard to miss his earnest but unforced exuberance in Chef and wish him well on future gigs. Especially if you have any fond recollection of past gems like...

From top left: Summer of Sam, the most all-around underappreciated of Spike Lee's quality joints, gave him a rare leading role as Vinny the hairdresser; he was wonderfully too much and Golden Globe nominated as Chi-Chi in To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar like an excited drag puppy that couldn't stop peeing; and of course there's his unrequited romantic highly-fictionized version of Toulouse Lautrec in the classic Moulin Rouge!. These are his greatest film roles and it's just perfect that two of them have exclamation points in the title since he's that kind of actor. 

I only speak the truth ♫ I only speak the truth "

What's your fondest memory of Leguizamo's career?

Wednesday
May282014

Top Ten: The Aughts

Last year I was throwin' up quickie top ten lists for each decade for archival and discussion purposes and tonight wI realized that I'd never finished the run skipping the Aughts and the 1920s and the 1910s (the latter two because I'd hoped to see more silent films before top ten'ing it). So herewith a revisit / rework of a "best of the aughts" list originally published in 2010 but many of you have joined us since!.

Care to share yours?


01 Moulin Rouge! dir. Baz Luhrmann (2001)

The party of the decade. The inspired mashup conductor (Baz) and his darling stars (Nicole, Ewan, Jim) put on the messiest craziest livelest funniest tearjerking "Spectacular! Spectacular!" show on earth. I'd never claim it's a perfect movie but flaws are endearing when you love madly and deeply. and Love Is All You Need.

02 Brokeback Mountain dir. Ang Lee (2005)
A love story for the ages. And one that quietly enrages.

03 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind dir. Michel Gondry (2004)
The Eyes: a singularly imaginative visualist in Gondry. The Brain: the twisty intellect of Charlie Kauffman. The Body: a great acting ensemble operating as one powerful machine. The Heart: a comic (Jim Carrey) positively aching with true drama. The Soul: one of the most elemental faces and emotional forces in cinematic history (Kate Winslet); It's the collaborative miracle movie of the decade, all its parts made greater by their interconnectedness.

04 Dancer in the Dark dir. Lars von Trier (2000)
The story of the Aughts for this particular moviegoer was the rebirth of the musical. To yank the dead genre from its unfortunate grave, fearless visionary filmmakers and prodigiously gifted musicians were required. The impish deconstructionist (von Trier) provoked such genius from a totally modern composer (Björk) that a decade later you can still be transported with just a bar of "New World" or "I've Seen It All".

 

05 Far From Heaven dir. Todd Haynes (2002)
Of all the things we have to thank Todd Haynes for: new ways of looking at Barbie dolls, Bob Dylan splintered, restless experimentation as cinematic life-blood, a mini Douglas Sirk revival, Ewan MacGregor naked and covered in glitter... this is the gift I cherish most: Julianne Moore in a purple scarf, waving love goodbye.

06 In the Mood for Love dir. Wong Kar Wai (2000, released in 2001)
In a perfect world, I would always be fetching noodles or trying on cheomsangs with Maggie Cheung. Either that or writing wuxia and smoking with Tony Leung Chiu Wai. I'd gladly pay the price of heartbreak in the end.

07 Talk To Her  dir. Pedro Almodovar (2002)
So imaginatively structured, exquisitely controlled, and enigmatically moving that it's nearly impossible to wrap your head around in one go. It's a good thing then that Pedro's movies miraculous improve with repeated viewings... even when they were brilliant to begin with. "Cucurrucucú paloma, cucurrucucú no llores."

08 Rachel Getting Married dir. Jonathan Demme (2008)
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change... like the fact that so many people don't love this movie. Their loss. I'm ready to dive back into this immersive, noisy, eclectic, spontaneous, superbly acted, wonderfully sustained, bleeding heart of a movie right this very second. Pass me the DVD.

09 Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon dir. Ang Lee (2000)
Ang Lee is the only filmmaker with two movies in the top ten.  How glorious was/is this utterly transporting adventure?

10 A History of Violence dir. David Cronenberg (2005)
In the past I've likened this movie to a machine, it's so finely calibrated and efficient. But that doesn't get at its emotional fire, its guttural poetry, and its savage eroticism. It's more like a cyborg.

 

ten other beloveds
Requiem for a Dream, Mulholland Dr, There Will Be Blood, The Lord of the Rings, Vera Drake, Y Tu Mama Tambíen, WALL•E, Volver, The Class, The Hurt Locker, and Before Sunset.

Previous Top Ten Quickies
1930s | 1940s1950s | 1960s1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s (thus far)  
and don't forget to like the film experience on facebook

Wednesday
Jan292014

And Then There Were Four. Oscar Nomination Revoked In Yet More Music Branch Drama

As you have undoubtedly heard because the drama is too juicy not to spread, the Original Song nominee that shocked everyone on Nomination Morning is no longer. "Alone Yet Not Alone" from Alone Yet Not Alone, a faith-based movie, has been disqualified due to excessive untoward campaigning. The nomination had been controversial right from the start for multiple reasons. First, no one had heard of the movie (not even one review on Rotten Tomatoes at the time) and people don't like obscure things. Then the amateurish-looking and racist-seeming trailer got passed around mockingly and we learned that anti-gay activists were endorsing the film. The team behind it basically gave God the credit for its nomination. Listen, Oscar night is heaven on earth but God's got nothing to do with it.

More on Oscar's most aggravating branch after the jump... 

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Oct092013

Exclamatory Titles

We're celebrating the 1968 film year sporadically as countdown to the Smackdown

The first time I consciously remember obsessing over exact typography in a film title was in 1995 when David Fincher's Se7en emerged and then again when Moulin Rouge! hit in 2001. With the latter I got angry every time I saw someone type that title without the exclamation point. Bazmark movies require their specific punctuation. (See also: Romeo + Juliet. It's just not the same at all with an ampersand!) 

Surveying 1968's film releases recently I couldn't help but wonder if that era, a seminal time for the world and the cinema, and that year specifically was the peak of exclamatory film titles? No less than four major films released that year asked you to shout their titles rather than politely sound them out.

BOOM! with Liz & Dick. Which also wins our Best Tagline of '68 for "together they devour life"
OLIVER! the only exclamation point film title to ever win the Best Picture prize (though not the only nominee obviously)
BANDOLERO! with Jimmy Stewart, Dean Martin & Raquel Welch. The exclamation point wasn't exclamatory enough so they had to add all caps in the tagline "a NEW kind of western"
STAR! with Julie Andrews ! as Gertrud Lawrence

Are you fussy about people using exactly correct titles? I am. I mean if you say Moulin Rouge without the exclamation point it's just a dusty Jose Ferrer biopic, don'cha know.

The only excuse for ditching the exclamation point is when you're just not feeling it.

♪ ...or by a comma when the feeling's not as strong... ♫

(Geraldine is such a cocktease.)

Friday
Aug232013

"Spectacular! Spectacular!" ...Now With a Third "Spectacular!"?

Have you heard that Baz Luhrmann wants to convert Moulin Rouge! to 3D?  On principal we should tsk tsk this because sensible people hate what 3-D hath wrought (ticket price inflation and obsessive preferencing of new technology rather than obsessive quality control) but the very best and only great thing about the 3-D movement is the rare opportunity it has afforded us the chance to see beloved movies back on the big screen -- yay Jurassic Park -- albeit in bastardized form.

But still. Consider...

"She is mine!"

Moulin Rouge! is such a Spectacular! Spectacular! Tiered Cake of Visual Goodies that it could surely handle yet one more layer of frosting. And the stage craft on "Hindi Sad Diamonds" was already desperately trying to go 3-D to begin with.

I'm making excuses for 3-D because any chance to see it on the big screen again is welcome. I'd be there with bells on and absinthe in hand. That five times during its initial release was wondrous and here's to number six. Not that on should hold one's breath waiting for Baz Luhrmann to follow through or get back to work. You know how he do inbetween features.