Daily Archives: March 2, 2001

Moulin Rouge

Though I still like John Huston’s 1952 movie with the same title a bit more, this steamroller by Baz Luhrmann about 1899 Paris and 2001 pop TVa definite improvement over the repulsive Strictly Ballroomis diverting, energetic, and even reasonably satisfying, so long as you aren’t looking for a real musical to take its place. What it mainly reminded me of were some of Ken Russell’s better romps in the 70s (The Devils, The Music Lovers, and, best of all, Savage Messiah), with roughly the same amount of feeling, nerve, and postmodernist extravagance (though they weren’t calling it postmodernism back then). The central mythical archetypesthe cabaret star and courtesan (Nicole Kidman), the evil duke she’s promised to, and the penniless writer (Ewan McGregor) she’s in love withare handled with feeling and panache. Craig Pearce collaborated with Luhrmann on the script. PG-13, 126 min. (JR) Read more


This 1965 allegory by writer-director Tadeusz Konwicki, which hasn’t been shown in the U.S. for several decades, might be called terminally Polish, but that doesn’t prevent it from also suggesting at times Tennessee Williams (Orpheus Descending, filmed as The Fugitive Kind) and William Inge (Picnic). Perhaps the best reason for seeing it is actor Zbigniew Cybulski (1927-’67), who’s being honored by the Chicago Cultural Center this week with screenings of three exceptional black-and-white features, including Ashes and Diamonds and The Saragossa Manuscript (see separate listings). All three are worth seeing, but this is the one in which Cybulski’s talent and black-leather-and-shades mystique really shine. His character hops off a train to revisit a small village, where he has various skirmishes with the locals, flirts with the daughter of a former lover, has creepy nightmares connected to World War II, appears to cure a couple of ailing children like a faith healer, and attends a climactic “anniversary” party where he leads everyone in an exceptionally weird dance (which gives the movie its title) before some outsiders turn up suggesting he may not be who he seems. (We’re not even sure what his name is.) Cybulski’s vibrancy makes this sexy movie a striking theatrical event that speaks volumes — even when we aren’t quite sure what’s going on. Read more