Tag Archives: Baz Luhrmann

Romeo + Juliet (1996) Review

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague
Claire Danes as Juliet Capulet/Juliet Capulet-Montague
Brian Dennehy as Ted Montague
John Leguizamo as Tybalt Capulet
Pete Postlethwaite as Father Laurence
Paul Sorvino as Fulgencio Capulet
Diane Venora as Gloria Capulet
Director: Baz Luhrmann

Baz Luhrmann helped adapt this classic Shakespearean romantic tragedy for the screen, updating the setting to a post-modern city named Verona Beach. In this version, the Capulets and the Montagues are two rival gangs. Juliet (Claire Danes) is attending a costume ball thrown by her parents. Her father Fulgencio Capulet (Paul Sorvino) has arranged her marriage to the boorish Paris (Paul Rudd) as part of a strategic investment plan. Romeo attends the masked ball and he and Juliet fall in love.

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I am not a fan of Romeo and Juliet (the play). I myself have studied it in English and while I can appreciate the impact that it’s made, I’m just not really into it. I am even less of a fan of the 90’s Romeo and Juliet movie by director Baz Luhrmann. The whole movie just irritated me from start to finish, and while it’s not one of the worst movies I’ve seen by any means, I really hated watching it.

One of the significant changes that Luhrmann has made was that this movie is pretty much set in the 90s. It did feel really weird with everyone speaking Shakespearian dialogue in modern day. With that said, Shakespeare’s plays can generally be translated into any time period, at least in terms of story. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Romeo and Juliet though, despite Luhrmann’s best attempts to making the movie make sense in the modern time period. For example, when technology like phones exist, it really makes you question why things didn’t happen differently, particularly towards the end (AKA, Juliet could’ve texted Romeo what was happening and so the whole tragedy could’ve been avoided). Otherwise the story is pretty much the same as in the source material, just presented differently.

The acting is quite the mixed bag. Something I’ve noticed is that the line delivery (particularly from the younger cast) is quite quick, and by that I mean they often deliver their lines quickly and it seems like they don’t know what the lines even mean. Claire Danes gives probably the best performance out of the younger cast as Juliet. As a fan of Leonardo DiCaprio… he just wasn’t that great here to me. There are some scenes where he is incredibly over the top, and while that might work for a play, it doesn’t work for a movie, and you just can’t take it that seriously. Towards the end (and I mean like the last scene) he is genuinely good though, and he does have a few legitimately good scenes. Most of the rest of the younger cast are fine enough but are generally okay at best. John Leguizamo was out of place here, he can give good performances but he feels a little miscast here. Paul Rudd is also in this movie. I don’t remember if he was good or not but I remember that he was in the movie. The older cast is quite impressive, much more so than the younger cast, with the likes of Paul Sorvino, Pete Postlethwaite and others giving some really solid performances.

The part that annoys me most about this movie is the direction by Baz Luhrmann. The style is so fast paced and in your face, and it got extremely obnoxious really quickly. I swear, this is the fastest I’ve disliked a movie, it took under 2 minutes. Luhrmann doesn’t always use this style, he’s done The Great Gatsby without having all of that, even during the party sequences. Even Moulin Rouge (another one of his movies I dislike) seemed to have more of a reason to have this crazy style than Romeo and Juliet. Now that’s not to say that there aren’t some good moments. The well known fish tank scene is one of the better additions to the movie, it doesn’t require any over the top and in your face elements, it’s rather subtle. Ironically that’s when the movie is at its best, but it feels like the movie is constantly trying to not be that. Something I realised watching this movie, Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby, is that Luhrmann is way better when he’s not directing over the top and crazy moments. His quieter moments are genuinely effective and great.

Romeo + Juliet really irks me, it just flat out has everything that usually annoys me in a movie from it’s over the top and hyperactive direction, editing and sometimes acting, however I know that this will appeal to some people. Honestly, I can’t even guess as to what audience will like Romeo and Juliet. It seems to have a mixed reaction, some people love it, others hate it and I fit in with the latter crowd. I guess to figure it out, watch a trailer or some clips and if you’re into what you’ve seen, then give it a watch, you may end up loving it.

Moulin Rouge! (2001) Review

Time: 127 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains offensive language and sexual references
Cast:
Nicole Kidman as Satine
Ewan McGregor as Christian
Jim Broadbent as Harold Zidler
Richard Roxburgh as The Duke of Monroth
John Leguizamo as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Director: Baz Luhrmann

A celebration of love and creative inspiration takes place in the infamous, gaudy and glamorous Parisian nightclub, at the cusp of the 20th century. A young poet (Ewan McGregor), who is plunged into the heady world of Moulin Rouge, begins a passionate affair with the club’s most notorious and beautiful star (Nicole Kidman).

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I was very sceptical about Moulin Rouge before watching it, although I liked Baz Lurhman’s The Great Gatsby, I really didn’t like his Romeo and Juliet. It didn’t help that Moulin Rouge seemed to have a lot of elements that I hated in 90’s Romeo and Juliet. Nonetheless I finally watch Moulin Rouge (I didn’t want to judge it without actually watching it) … and it took me a few viewings attempts to do finish watching it. While there are some good things in Moulin Rouge, for the most part it just really annoyed me and I personally don’t understand all the acclaim.

I didn’t care for any of the characters or the story. The movie is surrounding love, however in this movie, everything about love just feels really shallow and doesn’t really have much depth. It just pretty much boils down to “love is good because it’s good and people who don’t like love are bad because they are bad”. I wish I was exaggerating. I can’t say which act is best because it all goes in and out of quality, one moment it’s obnoxious, then there’s something that has potential or is even legitimately good, then it goes back to being annoying again. The movie tries to be funny and quirky at a lot of points and it’s irritating when they do this, it took me 5-10 minutes for me to regret trying to watch Moulin Rouge. A lot of the characters are annoying as well, on top of them being over the top and cartoonish, there really isn’t much to them. They also have a tendency to make stupid decisions for no reason at all, particularly Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman’s characters. I wasn’t heavily interested in the story throughout, there were times where I was partially entertained by some sequences but I didn’t really care what happened. So when you’re supposed to feel something at certain points, I really felt nothing at all. Of course I know that there are lots of people who had completely different experiences to me, a lot of people love Moulin Rouge, this is just I felt when I was watching it.

I’m very mixed on the acting. Ewan McGregor at times is good, the problem is that I found his character annoying, and at other times I found him unlikable. McGregor to his credit, does manage to elevate his role slightly and he does have some legitimately good moments. Nicole Kidman isn’t so lucky, not only is the character annoying, she has to act completely ridiculous and it’s just embarrassing to watch. There’s particularly a scene with her, McGregor and Richard Roxburgh, it’s their first scene together and it’s just the most embarrassing thing ever. Though really she’s ridiculous throughout. Kidman does try her best. I don’t put this against her acting ability, she’s definitely a very talented actress, it’s really the character, the direction and all the material that she was given that was the problem. In terms of acting, the best was Jim Broadbent, he was legitimately entertaining and I liked it when he was on screen. The villain is played Richard Roxburgh and he is incredibly over the top, and unfortunately not in a good way. The big problem is that we are supposed to take him somewhat seriously at the same time and I couldn’t take him seriously at all.

Baz Lurhmann’s direction is also a very mixed bag for me. There are some good parts to it, for example the sets are great and all well put together, the problem is that the editing a lot of the time doesn’t allow us to appreciate these sets. There is so much cutting during some sequences that is incredibly jarring and obnoxious. There are also some sequences which are legitimately good, even great, one in particular being El Tango De Roxanne. But there are still some parts to most of the direction that really frustrated me. The style and over the top nature was really irritating to me and was for me the most frustrating part of the movie. At the same time I am fully aware that people actually like this style and that’s part of the reason they love it so much, but for me, the erratic cutting, editing and camera movements were obnoxious and only made the whole experience worse. As for the songs, none of them are original, some of the songs are fine, others are not so much. It didn’t blow me away, save for maybe one or two songs.

Moulin Rouge definitely has some praiseworthy elements but it is overshadowed by the more flawed elements that distract from the better elements. It’s really the style, direction and story that brings this movie down, which on top of leaving no positive impact on me, also just ended up being straight up irritating at times. Despite my dislike of the film, I do recommend that people go out and see Moulin Rouge for themselves, I can’t tell who is going to love or hate it. I have noticed that some people who hate musicals really liked it. As someone who despite not being a massive fan of musicals but enjoys a lot of them, I really didn’t like Moulin Rouge, and I really wished I could see what everyone else sees in it.