Moulin Rouge

Christian, you may see me only as a drunken, vice-ridden gnome whose friends are just pimps and girls from the brothels. But I know about art and love, if only because I long for it with every fiber of my being.

A review by Mike Shea   Movie Rating: ( * * * * · )    DVD Rating: ( * * * * * )

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Moulin Rouge sat on my counter for over two weeks before I got the nerve to watch it. I had heard all the hype, I had heard the critics and something about it put it low on my list of films I had to see. Finally, after getting my new display, I thought it was time to clear it off to make room for something better. I had been kicking around a movie rule about musicals for a while. While you must accept in your heart the fact that this IS a musical, once you have done so, you are in for a hell of a ride.

If Julie Andrews had the lyrics to "Smells like Teen Spirit", Sound of Music would have been a far different movie. This is what breaks Moulin Rouge out of the evil realm of "the musical". True creativity is used not only with the songs that are sung, but with set design, costume design, and outlandish acting. I will probably say that this is the most beautiful movie I have seen in a long time. I wanted to hate it but every time I caught myself thinking about it, I remembered the dark version of "Roxanne".

It takes a tremendous amount of balls to make a movie like this today. In a sheltered world where people don't realize that Blade 2 may not be the best movie for their 7 year old, it is hard to put out a film you know 99% of the world isn't going to like. Even if the critics like it, that isn't going to pay the bill.

The acting in Moulin Rouge is fine but hard to even consider when the two main characters are having a love affair inside of a huge elephant. They all do a fully acceptable job, going back to the days of old where talent included a fair degree of singing voice. Nicole Kidman who seemed to spend more time being obnoxious rather than the subtlety of Ewan's character. All of the actors do a perfect job of their support roles, letting the spotlight pick out our two heroes in full.

The DVD of Moulin Rouge is everything a good DVD should be. It includes both a Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS soundtrack. I am starting to find that while DTS has a high degree of snob factor, it also doesn't have the dynamic sound compression that allows high volume DVDs to be played in low level environments that Dolby Digital has. The picture is an excellent 1.85 to 1, 16x9 enhanced transfer that made me see every penny of my new home theater monitor. It may be one of the best non-violent home theater demonstrations available, and should be used to sell any significant other on the wonderful world of expensive speaker cable. It also includes a director's commentary and a full disk of extras including music videos and making-of featurettes. Definitely a five star DVD.

It seems musicals have about 20 minutes of story padded into two hours through toe tapping song. What can generally be said in two words or less is stretched out into a eight minute dance routine. Moulin Rouge doesn't necessarily break this idea, but even accepting the padding, it is still one hell of a good movie. With it's impressionist sets, costumes and characters, it is as close to a stage presentation as I have seen on film. It is also an excellent DVD to demo when the blood and guts of the Matrix is a bit too much.