The Null Device

I finally went and saw Moulin Rouge. It was basically a two-hour music video combined with one of those Hollywood-on-the-Gold-Coast ads they show before movies. Firstly, the plot (arguably the least important part of this particular film) was weak and trite (a companion described it as taken from a Pepe Le Pew cartoon), the characters were paper-thin and cliché; there were the usual cartoonishly zany Australian-comedy madcap characters, all of them remaining entirely two-dimensional, and then there was Nicole Kidman bludgeoning the audience about the heads with her charms and the manager of the theatre looking like Big Kev or Con the Fruiterer with a silly mustache. That wasn't the only resemblance to bad Australian TV comedy, though; every time a character said or did something the director meant to be funny, they gurned at the camera to underscore the fact that this was meant to be a humorous moment; it was rather reminiscent of Let The Blood Run Free, or something similarly dodgy. In some of the scenes, I was expecting Yahoo Serious to show his face at any time.

Moulin Rouge is a very superficial film. They built all those elaborate sets, and then wasted them by making every shot a zappy, MTV-style opening shot (wouldn't want to overestimate the audience's attention span, would we?) The film was boldly, nay, defiantly commercial, feeling like a 2-hour advertisement for itself (or, more probably, for the technical skills of the Australian film industry; I suspect its real audience was Hollywood types sizing up places to make the next blockbuster). Needless to say, the treatment of the setting (Montmartre, the bohemian counterculture, and all of the truly interesting aspects thereof) was disappointingly superficial, where it wasn't nonexistent.

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