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Movie Review: Moulin Rouge

Story: I couldn't help myself. It was another gloomy, rainy Saturday morning, my knee hurt (more in this topic later in the week) and I had an overwhelming curiosity about this film. And guess what? I really enjoyed it! Go figure?

Australian co-writer and director Baz Luhrmann (Strictly Ballroom and Romeo and Juliet -- the one with Leonardo Dicaprio) creates a dazzling fantastical ride with this delightful return to the romantic, over the top, Hollywood musical. It is Montmartre, 1899, where the bohemians are in search of 'truth, beauty, freedom and above all, love.' There is stuff appropriated (we used to call that stealing) from everywhere - opera, literature, painting and other films, but if that bothers you it will spoil your fun. Just sit back, smile, tap your toes and you will have as good a time as I did.

The story is simple. The Moulin Rouge troupe needs a money man to produce their piece de resistance that will elevate them from a cabaret group to a legitimate theater group. The backer, the venal Count, makes demands in exchange for his money. There are good guys, bad guys and lots of stereotypes - but I couldn't have cared less. It even has a narrator and that didn't bother me.

The entire film is constructed in a sound stage which allows this very original film to retain its true art form of 'make-believe.' It is a carnival of color, movement, high and low culture, operatic excesses, whimsy and most of all, fun. I certainly got my money's worth.

Acting: I am liking Ewan McGregor more and more (Velvet Goldmine, Brassed Off, Trainspotting). He is the soul and the heart of this film. He has a nice singing voice and I totally believed his character. However, I am not a big Nicole Kidman fan. The only film I have liked her in, is To Die For. I know they say she has an alabaster skin tone, but it always looks cadaver like to me and her coldness makes me squirm. Her chemistry with McGregor was unfortunately not evenly portrayed throughout the film and when there was chemistry, I believed it about him and not her. I also thought she was too old for him (not that there is anything wrong with that). Oh yes, one more thing - her voice was little weak, but at least they used everyone's own voice. But considering all of the things I just mentioned, she was okay - I just think I would have enjoyed someone else in the role, but I don't know who. John Leguizamo as Toulouse Lautrec was a little scary and hard to understand with his French accent and lisp. Jim Broadbent (Topsy, Turvy) was terrific as the producer.

Critters: It was too busy and noisy for there to be any animals.

Food: There was food on many tables but I never saw anyone eat.

Visual Art: Unsung kudos to the art of Toulouse Lautrec as the total inspiration for costumes, makeup and scenery.

Blatant Product Placement: None.

Soundtrack: Mostly pop tunes of the 70's and 80's. I thought it was terrific.

Opening Titles: A short, wonderful opening curtain (literally).

Theater Audience: Very crowded for an early Saturday morning showing. A mixed group, many whose gender was not discernible. I just love that androgynous look. Almost everyone sat through the lengthy end credits. They were either cinemaphiles, like me, or they were asleep. Several people clapped at the end.

Sappy Factor: 2 (It is a romantic musical so there is bound to be some schmaltz).

Quirky Meter: 5

Predictability Level: High (but who cares)?

Oscar Worthy: Yes (I am sure that scenery, sound or costumes will get some nominations).

Nit Picking: I question only some of the casting choices and Leguizamo's strange accent.

Big Screen or Rental: Definitely the big screen (the bigger, the better). If you want to rent Moulin Rouge there are three other versions - 1934, 1944 and the Oscar winning version of 1952 with Jose Ferrer.

Length: 2 hours and 6 minutes (but the 6 minutes are all of the end credits, so it does remain within the LOBO 2 hour rule).

LOBO HOWLS: 9 (I know I am going to get mail on this one).