tek's rating:

Moulin Rouge! (PG-13)
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Caution: potential spoilers.

Holy. Crap.

I mean... generally, I like it.

No, listen... I was drinking beer while watching this. And I wished I was drinking absinthe. (I've never had the stuff, but I've always wanted to try it, and it does play a small part in the movie.) Well, maybe someday I'll have absinthe while watching it again. In any event, I can't help but think just watching the movie is itself something like drinking absinthe. I mean, the way drinking absinthe tends to be portrayed in popular culture. Oh, and speaking of pop culture... wow. The movie is set in 1899, in Paris, though actually it starts in 1900. The main character, Christian (Ewan McGregor), is writing about having moved from England to Paris a year earlier, and so he narrates the film. Which is, of course, filled with lots of music (hence my including it in the “musicals” category). But that music is mostly more modern stuff (by which I mean anything from throughout the 20th century), which is gloriously anachronistic. And there are mash-ups, and parodies, and whatnot. (The Can-Can plays a part.) And... there's just a ton of craziness. Awesome, awesome craziness (hence my including it in the “weird” category), and visually stunning, lavish production numbers. In fact, I couldn't help thinking of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, which made me think... this must be the kind of movie Terry Gilliam wishes he made. Seriously, this movie has some of the most deliciously redonkulous scenes, like, ever. (It also puts me in mind of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.)

But it's also about love (hence my including it in the “romantic” category), with some grand, romantic love songs (including mash-ups). Christian wants to write about all kinds of Bohemian values (truth... beauty... freedom... but above all, love). ... But he suddenly realizes he's never been in love. So how can he write about it? But then, a group of Bohemian artists, led by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (John Leguizamo), unexpectedly crash into Christian's life, and he ends up taking on the job of writing the new production they've been working on, called “Spectacular Spectacular.” They take him to the nightclub/dance hall/bordello, Moulin Rouge, owned by Harold Zidler. Zidler wants his star performer, Satine (Nicole Kidman) to seduce a wealthy duke (referred to simply as “the Duke”) into financing the conversion of Moulin Rouge into a real theatre, I guess. Which would mean Satine could become a real actress in a real theatre. But at the same time, Toulouse-Lautrec and his friends take Christian there, wanting him to perform poetry (which is basically just songs that are familiar to moviegoers but which didn't exist yet at the time the movie is set) for Satine, I guess in an effort to get Zidler to let them perform “Spectacular Spectacular” at the Moulin Rouge. Or something. But anyway... Satine at first mistakenly thinks Christian is the Duke. And the two of them quickly fall in love. But after the truth is realized... everyone kind of has to cover up the misunderstanding, by convincing the Duke that they were just rehearsing Spectacular Spectacular. (When Christian describes the story, which he hasn't yet begun to write, it sounds remarkably similar to the situation in which he and Satine have actually found themselves. And throughout the film, the parallel between the play and the reality is an important plot point.)

But the Duke insists on Zidler signing over the deed to the Moulin Rouge, to ensure that Satine will be faithful only to him. So of course, Zidler does whatever he can to cover up the fact that Satine really loves Christian. But... there's more than just a love triangle going on here. Unbeknownst to both Christian and the Duke, Satine is dying of tuberculosis. So... the movie is ultimately a tragedy. Very sad... and very funny... and romantic... and amazing music... and acting... and... I dunno what else to say. It's all just... amazing.

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