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Entries in Moulin Rouge! (25)

Tuesday
Aug232016

Best of the 21st Century?

by Nathaniel R

Mulholland Drive voted the best film of the 21st century (thus far)Though we may collectively scratch our head at the need to do 21st century best of lists so often and at odd intervals. After 16 years? Ermm, okay? Lists usually get people talking. The BBC polled 177 critics (of which I was, alas, not one) and the results were both enjoyable and annoying, as with all lists.

Some notes:

• I won't see Toni Erdmann for another few weeks so I can't speak to its quality but it's odd to see it on a "best of the century list" when the film has only opened in one country (France) outside of its home countries (Germany/Austria). It starts opening in other countries next month and also hits the Toronto Film Festival. So that seems...early

 • Did Christopher Nolan really need 3 pictures in the top 100? I maintain that Inception does not hold up and is relentlessly and numbingly expository for anything beyond a single viewing and it's even kind of annoying during that first plunge. Cinema about dreams should be mysterious...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jun012016

June 1st should be declared "International Day of Singing Moulin Rouge!'s Praises"

Come what may. We will love it. Until our dying day.

Moulin Rouge! turned 15 today. Imagine if June 1st were an international holiday? How is it not? How would we celebrate other than drinking absinthe, coughing up blood, and deep cleaning our shrines to Nicole Kidman (we'll assume everyone's already built one, okay?).  

Fifteen whole years ago my entire body and soul were quaking at that first screening at NYC's Ziegfeld theater. I saw it five times in the theater which is my record this millenium. (Carol came close last year with 4 in theater screenings. Weirdly The Witch is in third place because somehow I've already seen it three times on screens.) Mostly I'm not big on rewatching because that means I'm not seeing something I've never seen and there's always something new or old to discover because you can't see everything. Generally if I'm rewatching it's at home. 

How many times have you seen the greatest movie of the aughts? 

Thursday
Mar312016

Happy Birthday, Ewan McGregor

Kieran, here. Today, we celebrate the birthday of one of the screen’s most magnetic (and gallingly non-Oscar nominated) stars, Ewan McGregor.

Looking at McGregor’s filmography, there are definite peaks and valleys though that's to be expected with any performer who has been active for over two decades. For McGregor, a lot of the valleys occurred in recent years, but man…those peaks are impressive, aren’t they? The best of Ewan McGregor makes us hopeful for what the future holds for the talented Scotsman. He makes his feature-film directorial debut this year with American Pastoral, which he also stars in alongside Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning and “Orange is the New Black” breakout star (and awards magnet) Uzo Aduba. He also has a sequel to Trainspotting, the role that put him on the map, in the works. Rather than speculating about who he should work with, what projects he should choose and what direction he should take, we do what is done far too seldom for actors who have given us indelible screen performances—we simply say 'thank you' and 'more please'. 


His 5 Most Impressive Turns

5. Big Fish (2003) – I gather this will be a polarizing choice but have any of Tim Burton’s recent outings given us a turn as impressive and lived-in as McGregor’s here? McGregor is versatile, but he shines brightest and shows great skill when he's playing bright-eyed optimism as evidenced by Big Fish (and the top choice below.)

4. Trainspotting (1996) – Confession: I’m not as enamored with Trainspotting as most, but his performance is justifiably lauded and definitely worth your time. He renders addiction believably and charismatically in this black comedy. It’s an understandable worthy introduction to McGregor.

3. Beginners (2011) – It was McGregor’s co-star Christopher Plummer who (very deservedly) won an Academy Award for Mike Mills quirky and plaintive romantic drama, but McGregor anchors the piece so skillfully. McGregor imbues Oliver with beautiful specificity and world-weary warmth. Definitely worth a revisit for anyone who hasn’t seen the film since 2011.

2. Velvet Goldmine (1998) – When McGregor’s Curt Wild enters Todd Haynes’ colorful, electric narrative, a powerful shift is clearly felt. The way Brian’s (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) eyes light up with literal heart graphics when first gazing upon Curt Wild is completely appropriate. McGregor’s magnetism is undeniable. You can hardly take your eyes off of him.

1. Moulin Rouge! (2001) – How McGregor starred in a Best Picture nominee yet failed to land a slot on the 2001 Oscar Best Actor roster (which included Sean Penn for I Am Sam!) is still hard to fathom. Nicole Kidman’s sly, exuberant turn as the mysterious Satine wouldn't work half as well if it hadn't been a duet w/ Ewan McGregor’s career best. He certainly deserved to be a Best Actor nominee and I'd argue the winner. 

Happy 45th Birthday, Ewan! 

What’s your favorite Ewan McGregor performance?

Wednesday
Jun172015

The Year of the Month is... 1948

Lest you forget, we have two Smackdowns this month. The first, already published, was for 1979 and for the second half of the month our retrospective love will be devoted to 1948 when these five women were nominated for Best Supporting Actress

 

  • Barbarba Bell Geddes, I Remember Mama
  • Ellen Corby, I Remember Mama
  • Agnes Moorhead, Johnny Belinda
  • Jean Simmons, Hamlet
  • Claire Trevor, Key Largo [winner]

Readers are the final panelist and your votes count (collectively) so between now and June 25th get your votes in with 1 (ouch) to 5 (total perfection) hearts for each. Please only vote on the performances you've seen (points are proportional so it doesn't affect the widely seen or the underseen).

To give you some context for the year, let's go over some high points of 1948...

Montgomery Clift becomes a superstar right out of the gate with his first two films: The Search and Red River

Great Big Box Office Hits: 1) The Red Shoes, 2) The Three Musketeers, 3) Red River, 4) The Treasure of the Sierra Madre 5) When My Baby Smiles at Me 6) Easter Parade 7) Johnny Belinda 8) The Snake Pit 9) Ingrid Bergman as Joan of Arc and 10) Erroll Flynn in The Adventures of Don Juan

Oscar's Best Pictures: Johnny Belinda (12 noms / 1 win), Hamlet (7 noms/4 wins), The Snake Pit (6 noms / 1 win), The Red Shoes (5 noms / 2 wins), and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (4 noms / 3 wins). The Search starring Montgomery Clift probably just missed the cut-off with 4 major nominations, 1 win and a special Juvenile Oscar. Johnny Belinda and Sierra Madre shared the Golden Globe honors while Hamlet won Oscar's top prize

Happenings: Hollywood is still under the thumb of the HUAC hearings and many valuable players have already been blacklisted and/or jailed at this point; Post World War II anti-semitism is a mainstream topic which results in a Best Picture win early in the year for Gentleman's Agreement and then the banning of another film, David Lean's Oliver Twist, due to perceptions of anti-semitism in the character of Fagin (Alec Guiness); The US Supreme Court rules against religious instruction in public schools; Alfred Kinsey publishes "Sexual Behavior in the US Male"; Mahatma Gandhi is assassinated; a subway fare hike in Manhattan kicks it up to a whole dime.

Other Arts: Truman Capote's "Other Voices, Other Rooms" and Norman Mailer's "The Naked and the Dead" are published, Pulitzer winners include James Michenere's "Tales of the South Pacific," Tennessee Williams "A Streetcar Named Desire", and W.H. Auden for "The Age of Anxiety," Ed Sullivan and Milton Berle both begin their historical television superstardom this year with the variety shows "Toast of the Town" and "Texaco Star Theater" both of which will be retitled to reflect their star's name; "Mister Roberts" wins the first Tony Award for Best Play and "Kiss Me Kate" premieres on Broadway and will win the next year's inaugural Best Musical category. 

Some Magazine Covers for Context
Various movie queens, a reference to Shirley Temple's baby (her first child was born in January of '48), hot topics like Alfred Kinsey and Mahatma Gandhi, and more... 

Mix Tape (Born in '48)
Olivia Newton-John, Stevie Nicks, Grace Jones, Kenny Loggins, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Donna Summer, Jackson Browe, and Steve Winwood 

Actors We  ♥♥  Hard at TFE that were born in '48
Bernadette Peters, Dianne Wiest, Barbara Hershey, Kathy Bates and Christopher Guest 

Other Key Showbiz Figures From '48's Fine Vintage
Joe Dallesandro, Samuel L Jackson, John Carpenter, Gérard Depardieu, Bonnie Bedelia, Margot Kidder, Bud Cort, Kate Jackson, Mercedes Reuhl, Phylicia Rashad, Linsday Crouse, Mimi Kennedy, Nathalie Baye, Nell Carter, George RR Martin (author), Ben Burtt (sound genius), Colleen Atwood (costume designer), Javier Aguierresarobe (cinematographer), Edward Lachman (cinematographer), Lindy Hemming (costume designer)

Showtune to Go: Nat King Cole's "Nature Boy" is released which will later play a key role in one our mutual favorite films of all time Moulin Rouge! (2001) 

Wednesday
Oct152014

Baz, Rocky, Sarandon and Me

Editor's Note: Faithful reader and frequent Best Shot participant Derreck (see his tumblr here) attended a special film event that we desperately wanted to make it to last week, a screening of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" with everyone's favorite red curtain Aussie auteur hosting. I invited Derreck to share his memoir of the event, so here he is to do so! - Nathaniel R.

I've never seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard about it. I’ve seen images of Tim Curry in a corset, fishnets and makeup, heard about shadowcasts and seen its enduring cultural presence in movies like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but I’d never actually watched the film. I was born way after it was released and even though to this day, it is one of the longest theatrical releases in the history of cinema, it never made it to theatres in my homeland of the Bahamas. Rocky Horror ended up in my “I’ll get to that eventually” pile along with other much-discussed 70s movies like Apocalypse Now and Xanadu. 

Fast-forward to me living in New York. I was doing my daily blog readings and saw that Rocky was playing at the IFC Theater in Manhattan as part of Super Week leading up to Comic-Con. I thought “oh, that’s nice. Maybe I’ll go.” Until I read on and saw that Baz Luhrmann would be there in person to conduct a Q&A about the film and speak about how it influenced his work. 

Baz Luhrmann. The man behind the film that remains forever close to my heart and inspired my ridiculous obsession with love: Moulin Rouge!

I immediately left my apartment to get a ticket. 

Fast-forward to the big night. I was sitting in my chair shivering with "antici--

….

Click to read more ...

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)  
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