Monday, July 8, 2013

A date with a showman: My visual reviews of the films of Baz Luhrmann


Baz Fucking Luhrmann!  The name alone evokes varying responses, even in my own household.  My wife hears his name and cringes.  She is not a fan of his showboating style and feels as though he corrodes his subjects with outlandishness that is unnecessary and uncomfortable.  I, on the other hand, hear his name and get somewhat giddy with excitement.  Sure, he doesn't always nail his film, but when he gets it right he gets it REALLY RIGHT!  I've gone to bat many times for his MASTERPIECE 'Romeo + Juliet', fighting tooth and nail against naysayers, and I'm one of those few individuals who actually feels as though David Lynch, as brilliant as he is, stole Luhrmann's Oscar nomination back in 2001.  Seriously, what would 'Moulin Rouge!' have been without Luhrmann's grand vision?  Nothing, that's what it would have been.  How can you nominate a film like that as the Best Picture of the year while snubbing the whole reason the film worked in the first place?  

With that said, I was really harsh on 'The Great Gatsby' earlier this year, and I stand by that review.  It just didn't work and felt like a messy attempt to repeat his past successes.  I recently saw 'Australia' and was surprised at how much I actually liked it, but was also let down by how un-Lurhmann it really was.  It appears that Lurhmann is in search of a balance to his own showmanship and he's struggling to find it.  His Red Curtain trilogy showed so much promise, potential and natural talent, but since closing the curtain in 2001 he has released two films that are the bottom of his own creative barrel and show cracks in his talent.  I hope he can bounce back with something resplendent soon.

So, without further ado, here is my take on his work to date:



Strictly Ballroom (1992) ****/*****
Fearless...

Romanticized atmosphere...

Filled to the brim with potential...

Dreamy...

Part of a larger whole...


Romeo + Juliet (1996) *****/*****

Sincere and innocent...

Angelic and poetic...

Deadly serious...

Lost in love...

Brutally passionate!

Moulin Rouge! (2001) *****/*****

A true spectacle...

Embraces it's childishness...

Dangerous...

Explosively romantic!

Never forgets it's here to put on a show...


Australia (2008) ***/*****

Gone With the Wind...lite

A tad forced...

Surprisingly charming...

Packs a punch I didn't see coming...

Felt like two movies...


The Great Gatsby (2013) ***/*****

Tempting...

M-A-D-N-E-S-S

Too self aware...

Way too obvious for it's own good...

It's all in the details...

6 comments:

  1. I just love these posts man. I really need to rewatch Moulin Rouge!, but I'd definitely put it and Romeo + Juliet above his last two films.

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    1. Romeo + Juliet is utter perfection in my book. It's in my top 100 films of all time, rather high I might add. It is his grand opus, a film that balances out the crazy with that honest and earnest realism. It just meshes so wonderfully without ever feeling like someone else is at the helm.

      Next up is Joe Wright...by the end of the month!!!

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  2. Great post! Baz definitely has an eye for the aesthetics; that's undeniable. And despite all the backlash, I loved Gatsby and all it's CGI magic!

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, I'm a fan of Baz. I wasn't a huge fan of Gatsby, but it has strong points that make it worth seeing for sure. It's those details!

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