Creole Lady Hearing Aid
Patient: Moulin Rouge
Profile: An eye-shattering, cinematic train wreck of a musical about doomed love that suffers from not being very musical but makes up for it by being both disorienting and predictable. My head hurts. Think Camille meets The Rocky Horror Picture Show meets Great Expectations meets the Fall of Saigon as produced by MTV.
Symptoms: This movie has more cinematic tricks than that animated Japanese show that gave people spastic fits. You know, like Mary Hart. Stuff is just flying around this movie: cameras, tired dialogue, centuries-old storylines, and then the music kicks up out of nowhere, and people start dancing, though it's hard to tell if they're dancing very well because the film is cut like a 10-foot hoagie, and the music changes from The Sound of Music to that great Patti LaBelle prostitute song, except Patti LaBelle's not singing it, Christina Aguilera is, and you think about how badly that woman needs a sandwich, and then the music kicks up and so do the dancers and then Nicole Kidman dies. Was I not supposed to tell you that? I don't know; I can't focus. Moulin Rougeis to movies what Mariah Carey is to music: running through a litany of gymnastic tricks and stunts that manage to get your attention but don't actually serve the piece. My head hurts.
Diagnosis: Less is more. . . . What!? Less Is More. . . . You saw the Doors? NO! LESS IS MORE! . . . Fess Parker's a whore? (Fess Parker is dead, right?)
Prescription: Get a story. Any story—as long as it's not one that was done back when Cleopatra was in the chorus. It doesn't have to be The Usual Suspects set to music; just try something simple and true. The Fred Astaire/ Ginger Rogers musicals of the '30s may have been slight on story, but the story was involving enough to make us care what happened to the two crazy kids. And here's another thing about Astaire and Rogers: they could dance. And we could see them dance. And music was chosen and played because it fit the story and pushed it forward. So try that. But first, let's just all have a quiet little sit-down, okay? Shhhh. Poppa's got a headache that's not going to end until this thing's on DVD.
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