What are the critics smoking?
December 7, 2001 5:24 AM   Subscribe

What are the critics smoking? This morning I'm shocked to see that one of the worst films ever created - Moulin Rouge - is being considered as one of the best films of the year.
posted by jacques67 (79 comments total)
 
Hurrah!
posted by Summer at 5:38 AM on December 7, 2001


"One man's something is another man's something else," someone once said to someone else about something or other.
posted by davehat at 5:52 AM on December 7, 2001


Hey, I liked that film. New ideas, bizarrely interesting set design, the return of the musical, John Leguizamo, Elton John songs. Come on.
posted by Mo Nickels at 5:53 AM on December 7, 2001


Nicole Kidman's about as interesting on screen as a fish with five thousand volts running through it. No, make that five hundred volts. The people behind this National Board of Review "best of the year" thing must have seen only Moulin Rouge and an episode of Teletubbies.

Where can I get a job as a movie critic? I want to know who hires these bozos. I love Roger Ebert don't get me wrong, but I could write circles around that old man. And Harry Knowles? Don't git me started. What credentials does it take? How many movies does one have to have seen before they're considered an authority on what's good?
posted by ZachsMind at 5:55 AM on December 7, 2001


It was an interesting experiment that succeeded on some levels (sets, costumes, cinematography) and failed on others (acting, songs, plot). It is by no means the worst film ever created. Moulin Rouge has a long, long ways to fall before it can get into the same category of badness as "Manos, Hands Of Fate" or "Orgy of the Dead".
posted by MrBaliHai at 5:59 AM on December 7, 2001


That does seem a bit strange.
But they were right on with Amores Perros. That film managed to make the Snatch/Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels formula work (characters with believable motivation, etc.).
But haven't we decided that these awards things don't really mean anything?
posted by nprigoda at 5:59 AM on December 7, 2001


I am a film nut and never walk out of a movie. Well, I lasted twenty minutes in this one.
posted by anathema at 6:00 AM on December 7, 2001


How many movies does one have to have seen before they're considered an authority on what's good?

Two thousand, eight hundred and ninety-four. Three more to go, and I'm writing circles around all of you.
posted by rory at 6:06 AM on December 7, 2001


One of the remarkable things about Moulin Rouge is that it inspired such violent emotion among moviegoers... you either loved it or hated it.

I loved it, saw it more times than I can readily recall and am eagerly awaiting the dvd. I did, also, get shrieked at by a fellow theatre patron for laughing during the "Like A Virgin" scene, and was privy to a conversation between two people behind me who couldn't understand why they were singing "Sound of Music" in 1899 Paris. They left when "Smells Like Teen Spirit" made its first appearance.

So to each their own. Diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks. Takes all kinds to make the world go 'round. We're just going to have to agree to disagree. Etc.
posted by kittyb at 6:07 AM on December 7, 2001


I'm with kittyb. I LOVED "Moulin Rouge." Saw it four times in the theater (okay, I paid once and snuck into it on three other occasions).

Hey, what can I say? I love musicals and this one was fantastic.

Oh, and a little background on the National Review Board:

The board is frequently confused with being a critics’ group itself, but it’s really a salon-styled film-appreciation society made up of sophisticated film fans living in New York City. “Everyone is involved in film or the arts in some way,” insists executive director Lois Ballon, “and what we all share in common is a passionate love of movies.” Winners are chosen by combining the full votes of the 13 members who sit on the Exceptional Photoplay Committee and fractional votes from 90 additional judges who belong to adjunct screening panels. None of the voters’ names is made public.
posted by ColdChef at 6:17 AM on December 7, 2001


Nicole Kidman's about as interesting on screen as a fish with five thousand volts running through it.

Assuming AC current, truly a sparkling visual - hardly uninteresting. (Nicole, dahling, don't let these nastieboys smudge your day. I loves you. Tom's weird.)
posted by Opus Dark at 6:24 AM on December 7, 2001


ML was the low-point of the post-modern aesthetic. And I hope it is the final nail in its coffin.
posted by bison at 6:25 AM on December 7, 2001


Damn. I've only seen nine hundred and fifty-one movies, according to my playing around in IMdB last year. I've seen a few since but haven't tallied them. Seemed kinda pointless after awhile, but it was fun. I'd imagine I'm getting pretty close to that thousand mark.

By the way that above link's gonna show something different for you than it does for me. I can't find a static page from IMdB that allows others to see my personal list. Or allows me to see other people's lists. So you'd get your list if you made one, or no list at all if you never signed up for the fun. Some time last year I rated 951 movies, and reviewed several of them, all for zero money. God I'm an idiot. I'm stuck dredging the job.com websites like a vulture. I don't wanna do this anymore. I wanna be a movie critic. I wanna do like Elvis Mitchell, man can he cash in on love for cinema. That's the life.

Opus Dark: "...hardly uninteresting..."

Well that's kinda my point. People who like that chalky mannequin look will do a doubletake and marvel at her "sparkly" moves for a few minutes, but that's about all the attention she deserves. Kinda like how the TV series A-Team was about as interesting as killing bugs.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:33 AM on December 7, 2001


I also completely accepted and loved "Moulin Rouge" - although I frequently fall in love with movies that are by others' standards bad. (To me, "Unbreakable" and "The Messenger" along with "Moulin Rouge" are some of the most excellent movies I've seen)

It seems to me that the correct listing to be questioning would be "AI" - that seemed like a mess of a movie, although maybe the Board loved Teddy as much as I did.

However, the point is that people have much different tastes (otherwise, how do you explain the existence of "Pearl Harbor"?) and I think it is insensitive to go around calling a movie one of the worst ever made when it is clearly not.

Even if you consider it to be a failure as a movie, can't you give Luhrman any credit for having the courage and creativity to try something new every once in a while?
posted by daser at 6:39 AM on December 7, 2001


Loved it loved it loved it. That and Hedwig were my favorite movies this past year.
posted by witchstone at 6:39 AM on December 7, 2001


If you want the DVD early and have a multiregion DVD player it's already out in Australia. And including shipping it's still cheaper than DVDs in the UK. Now I feel like one of those people who start Buffy threads.
posted by Summer at 6:41 AM on December 7, 2001


Um, Zach, you've actually been counting? ("Hello, Sun-Times? Have I got a critic for you!")
posted by rory at 6:42 AM on December 7, 2001


Can't resist my favorite quote regarding the film:

Moulin Rouge is a musical without a complete musical number, a dance film without a dance sequence, a film about a writer that wasn't written. It was cobbled together by choosing only the most obvious post-Beatles song lyrics to animate its repetitive situations, and it tries to convince you that it's reinvigorating those song lyrics as it embraces pop cliché so it can bring you a higher love.

--A.S. Hamrah
posted by sj at 6:42 AM on December 7, 2001


Moulin Rouge is a musical without a complete musical number, a dance film without a dance sequence, a film about a writer that wasn't written. It was cobbled together by choosing only the most obvious post-Beatles song lyrics to animate its repetitive situations, and it tries to convince you that it's reinvigorating those song lyrics as it embraces pop cliché so it can bring you a higher love.

Exactly. Fabulous.
posted by Summer at 6:45 AM on December 7, 2001


Fact is, it's a difficult film, better appreciated by people who have actually watched a few movies in their lives, and read a few books too. Luhrmann mixed opera, Bollywood movies, commedia dell'arte, pop music, Toulouse Lautrec's art -- you've probably got to have a working knowledge of all these things to really "get" Moulin Rouge, plus it's a treat to watch if you can actually catch all the René Clair and Jean Renoir references and hundreds of others.
It's perfectly OK to dislike Moulin Rouge and be bored by it. It's far from a perfect film anyway. But it's not surprising that many people (and many critics, too) loved it.
I don't want to start a flame war here, but it's not an American movie (directed by an Australian, Australian and Scottish leads, shot in Australia). So it's OK if many Americans don't like it -- it's basically a foreign movie with English dialogue.
Zachsmind
I love Mitchell too, but he didn't really get this film if you remember his review.
posted by matteo at 6:46 AM on December 7, 2001


matteo: Except that it was put out by a major Hollywood studio, which is owned by a former Australian who's now an American citizen and whose logo is still identified with old Hollywood. It's not quite a foreign film.
posted by raysmj at 7:02 AM on December 7, 2001


I loved this movie. I wasn't sure whether I was going to like it or not, because I don't like musicals, but Moulin Rouge was innovative and beautiful.
posted by animoller at 7:07 AM on December 7, 2001


Moulin Rouge was one of the best films of the year. So was this one.
posted by mrbula at 7:08 AM on December 7, 2001


I've almost been tempted to check out The Others because it looks like Kidman actually does something with her role in that film. There's only ghosts and children; it's kinda hard to be seductive. But really, this seems to be the extent of her talent (from To Die For).

Matteo: "he didn't really get this film if you remember his review."

Oh gee, I dunno.

"What Mr. Luhrmann has done is take the most thrilling moments in a movie musical — the seconds before the actors are about to burst into song and dance, when every breath they take is heightened — and made an entire picture of such pinnacles. As a result every moment in the film feels italicized rather than tumescent; "Moulin Rouge" has a frenetic innocence that seems almost asexual. It will speak to the young people who roll DVD's back and forth to their favorite scenes and think in narrative shorthand. That is the way Mr. Luhrmann's mind works. This movie is simultaneously stirring and dispiriting...

"Moulin Rouge will be accused of having no heart. But the truth is just the opposite. The movie has so much heart that the poor overworked organ explodes in every scene."


Personally, I think Elvis hits the nail on the head with this one.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:13 AM on December 7, 2001


I'll admit to being deadened by the visual barrage of Moulin Rouge, beautiful as it was. (Did love the little guy under the Fox logo at the opening, though.) What I loved about it was the way it strung together unrelated songs into a pretty cohesive new whole. Yes, the choices were fairly obvious, but that doesn't mean they're uninspired. It was fun, and reveled in the delight of simple musical play. It seems to have been made by people who love music and aren't afraid to put out a little exhuberance. That's a daunting task when faced by a bunch of cynical bastards like ourselves.

I don't know if I'd put it on my list for the year, but I certainly won't forget it.

And Kidman's pretty alright, within a certain range. She had some fantastic scenes in Eyes Wide Shut.
posted by videodrome at 7:22 AM on December 7, 2001


Nicole's performance in Alejandro Amenábar's The Others and her theater performance in the Blue Room in London and New York put here right up there with the best of 'em.
posted by Voyageman at 7:24 AM on December 7, 2001


I wouldn't say I hated Moulin Rouge, but I definitely didn't like it. it was the cinematic equivalent of yellow journalism. they might as well have been drinking "pepsi" instead of absinthe.

best film of the year? not a chance. one of the best? if the only movies you like are dopey hollywood watch-mes!, then maybe.
posted by mcsweetie at 7:36 AM on December 7, 2001


Since we're talking about Nic here, might as well throw this in: (from IMDB.com Celeb News)

Australia Prepares For Cruise Attack

Tom Cruise and Penélope Cruz are set to face the wrath of the Australian nation when they arrive in Sydney this month for the premiere of new movie Vanilla Sky. When married to Nicole Kidman, Cruise was the darling of down under and made an honorary aussie by Australians.

But Tom's relationship with the Antipodes soured this year when he and Kidman divorced in August and he began dating Cruz - his co-star in Vanilla Sky. According to Peoplenews.com - Australia still hasn't forgiven Cruise for splitting with one of their most famous daughters - and it's people are preparing a hostile welcome for the couple when they arrive in Sydney for the screening on December 19th.

A source told the site angry cinema-goers have been booing Cruise and Cruz every time they appear on screen. The source says, "It could get pretty nasty - Aussies feel very protective of Nicole and Tom is not a popular man."

posted by ColdChef at 7:47 AM on December 7, 2001


wow, they have the same last name. super duper gross!
posted by mcsweetie at 7:48 AM on December 7, 2001


What kittyb said, it is brilliant how divided viewers were on this film. And also matteo, yes, it's a difficult film in a sense. But I saw it twice at the Ziegfeld Theatre, and it was an absolute thrill because the entire audience was completely into it and reacting to it, an amazing/rare moviegoing experience.

It is a flawed film -- aren't they all -- but what a scrumptious vision. There's never been anything like it. Take it or leave it.
posted by edamame at 7:58 AM on December 7, 2001


I'd love to see Tom Cruise booed by the Australian nation. Go aussie.
posted by Summer at 7:58 AM on December 7, 2001


You most likely like Harry Potter didn't you... Moulin Rouge was one of the best movies of 2001..
posted by Dav0xor at 8:05 AM on December 7, 2001


What about some of the other films they thought were the best of 2001? What does everyone think of Ocean's Eleven, Monster's Ball, and Black Hawk Down?

my time machine is busted, plus I'm kinda on the outs with the studio heads, so I haven't had a chance to see any of these yet.
posted by dchase at 8:08 AM on December 7, 2001


I liked it. One thing you have to admit is that it was innovative and a risky bet. When was the last time a musical created such a wide range of emotions.

I would say that it ranks on my personal top ten list for this year, along with Memento and Shrek. Compared to most of the drek coming out of hollywood these days, it was a fun roller-coaster.

Of course, it is not a movie that works well on a small screen. I saw it at the Ziegfield and was wowed. The manic pacing of it made me forget that I was in for 2 hours and while some of the acting was a little hokey, it ended up being quite the popcorn ride I had expected.

Then again, I believe that it is part of the appreciation for any of Baz Luhrmann work. I loved "Romeo + Juliet" and was eagerly anticipating this one. The thing about it is that it met my expectations.

In a year when so many films didn't live up to the hype they had created, it's nice to see someone still taking risks (a musical? these days?) and pass the test.
posted by TNLNYC at 8:09 AM on December 7, 2001


Yikes! Everybody's a critic...
posted by y2karl at 8:12 AM on December 7, 2001


Moulin Rouge has its problems, but it's also an amazing, ambitious, wild piece of work somehow unlike any other movie I've seen.

There are many people who find it utterly awful, and I can see why - but isn't it better to fail at trying something bizarre and novel, ending up with a fantastic unwatchable mess, than to fail at trying the same old thing Hollywood has always done, and fail out of sheer incompetence?

Moulin Rouge is a lush realisation of an unusual concept. It is, as far as I can tell, the movie its director intended to make. The question is not whether he succeeded at what he attempted to do, but whether what he was trying to do was a good idea in the first place.

Personally, I thought it was great. But my perspective is probably skewed by having gone to see it with a woman I'd more or less just fallen in love with...

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 8:19 AM on December 7, 2001


"What does everyone think of Ocean's Eleven, Monster's Ball, and Black Hawk Down?" OE is a remake, Monsters Ball seems like all those grisham novels rolled together and i liked Black Hawk down when it was called BAT 21. I guess the time machine crack is right on:)
posted by clavdivs at 8:31 AM on December 7, 2001


Well, OK, clavdivs, but that doesn't really answer the question, does it? Have you actually seen any of those three, or are we just given an uninformed opinion?
posted by videodrome at 8:45 AM on December 7, 2001


The MTV style, cut cut cut cut editing made Moulin Rouge unwatchable. I want to (cut) be able to see the (cut) great sets (cut) and the pretty faces.
posted by drunkkeith at 8:57 AM on December 7, 2001


I haven't seen Moulin Rouge, matteo, but isn't it possible to see a movie, pick up on all the arch references to other flicks, and still think it's crap? In fact, obsessive referencing is just as likely to spike a product in my book as a number of other atrocities--unless, of course, we're talking about The Simpsons. Cleverness alone isn't worth much.

But, like I said, I haven't seen it.

Amores Perros, on the other hand, was just incredible.
posted by nedlog at 8:59 AM on December 7, 2001


Moulin Rouge has a long, long ways to fall before it can get into the same category of badness as "Manos, Hands Of Fate" or "Orgy of the Dead".

Yeah. Or even as far as "Dick Tracy."

Luhrmann is an ambitious director with a vision. Not everything he tries actually works for everyone, but frankly, I loved his Romeo + Juliet. Despite its flaws, that movie really sucked me in. Heck, even my mom was won over by the end. Moulin Rouge didn't do that for me, and there were things about it that really grated on me, but I'm certainly glad they gave Luhrmann the chance to make it.

It's obvious to me that the many of today's most interesting (won't say "best" as that's a matter of taste) films are being made by non-Americans. Some of whom have been imported into the States now; Hollywood has noticed.
posted by kindall at 9:07 AM on December 7, 2001


Moulin Rouge wasn't the worst to come out this year, but it was far from the best.

The acting, singing, dancing, etc. were wildly uneven, stilted in its narrative, and seemed to have a whole lot of its guts cut out before it made it to release. On the other hand, it had some beautiful moments -- the "rape" number toward the end for instance -- and the cinematography and set design were stupendous.

In a year with so many outstanding films, though, why give top honors to one with so many problems?
posted by me3dia at 9:14 AM on December 7, 2001


Wither The Deep End? Did anyone besides me get to see it?
posted by thebigpoop at 9:17 AM on December 7, 2001


Already forgot about A.I., didn't we? Maybe for a good reason...
posted by alumshubby at 9:25 AM on December 7, 2001


my time machine is busted, plus I'm kinda on the outs with the studio heads, so I haven't had a chance to see any of these yet.

Ah, but you aren't a critic or part of a body which grants movie awards. Critics, especially, receive advanced copies of movies up to two months before the wide-market release. (Notice how they always review films in the days before they open - or in the case of Siskel & Roeper on TV, the week before?) These folks have seen everything that's going to be released this year. They've made their choice fully informed. Their choice sucks, but they've made their choice fully informed.
posted by Dreama at 9:27 AM on December 7, 2001


I find it interesting that most of the criticism stems from people bemoaning the quick cuts and post-modern mish-mash that is Moulin Rouge. Isn't it time we realize that there should be directors mixing it up and trying new things? Seems to me that these detractors have the "old fart" syndrome ("Damn kids today don't appreciate REAL movies the way they ought to be. Try Casablanca and Gone With The Wind, whipper-snappers!").

Sure, we should look to great movies from the past to set the standard for current films. But where would we be if innovators like Orson Welles and Stanley Kubrick hadn't pushed the envelope and challenged the audience to rethink what a film should look like? That's what should be happening in film if cinema is to continue being such a dominant and exciting art form.

If every director adhered to the "rules" of traditional filmmaking, things would get boring rather fast.
posted by meowmix at 9:34 AM on December 7, 2001


kindall: Since when is it new that people other than Americans or people not born in America make interesting films? Um, let's see, Alfred Hitchcock . . . why, he was from the same country as Memento director Christopher Nolan! And it has a star from Australia, same place Mel Gibson is from. Wowie. How impossibly chic.
posted by raysmj at 10:07 AM on December 7, 2001


Ah, but you aren't a critic or part of a body which grants movie awards. Critics, especially, receive advanced copies of movies up to two months before the wide-market release

Dreama - The National Board of Review apparently isn't made up of movie critics. As ColdChef quoted above:

"The board is frequently confused with being a critics’ group itself, but it’s really a salon-styled film-appreciation society made up of sophisticated film fans living in New York City."


Now, obviously there are 'civilians' who get to see films like Black Hawk Down, Ocean's 11, Lord of the Rings, et cetera before they come out. Otherwise, Ain't it Cool News and Coming Attractions wouldn't be around. However, I am a little suspicious of the implication that enough of the members of the NRB say they have seen the these movies to--in good conscience--list them as the top movies of the year, or give them honorary awards. Plus there's the danger of ranking a movie you've only seen in pre-release form, as they are often different than the final cut.
posted by Hildago at 10:16 AM on December 7, 2001


And why are we giving Moulin Rouge points for trying something original and not succeeding? There are movies this year that set out to do incredibly innovative things and succeeded perfectly.
posted by Hildago at 10:18 AM on December 7, 2001


Since when is it new that people other than Americans or people not born in America make interesting films?

I didn't say it's new, I just mean that in recent years these directors have received more attention in the States than they did in, say, the '80s. Or at least it seems that way to me.
posted by kindall at 10:18 AM on December 7, 2001


One more kindall: How about this one, directed by a native of what is now Poland, and the ultimate in a genre that clearly informs Memento. (Wilder, of course, also made a number of classic films that at least indirectly influenced Moulin Rouge. And, incidentally, he worked on the screenplay to the quintessentially American Ocean's 11, a remake of which is being released this week.)
posted by raysmj at 10:20 AM on December 7, 2001


And I've got to disagree that Memento succeeded "perfectly." It would have succeeded perfectly if it had managed to maintain tension entirely through its backward narrative. Instead, the main narrative was intercut with a forward narrative, rendered in black-and-white just to make sure the audience could tell it was different from the rest of the movie. Unfortunately it reminded me of Titus. It all tied together in the end, naturally, but it would have been a much stronger film had it managed to stick to one narrative.

It was a very, very good film -- better than Moulin Rouge, I'll admit readily -- and the DVD is an excellent example of the genre (the entire otnemem Web site's on there, DVD-ized!). But perfect it was not.

raysnj: You're making my point for me. :) I think the fact that Hollywood is willing to bring more non-American and individual visions to the American moviegoers may mark the resurgence of American film and the beginning of second "golden age." It seems to me like a sign that Hollywood may realize that the quest for blockbusters isn't the end-all and be-all of moviemaking, that the industry is finally starting to wake up from the George Lucas dream. At least a little. Maybe I'm fooling myself, or maybe I wasn't paying close enough attention to film until the last few years.
posted by kindall at 10:31 AM on December 7, 2001


In the 1980s? You mean Louis Malle, Peter Weir, Richard Attenborogh , Roman Polanski , Roland Joffe or Paul Verhoven? How's about the early '90s, with Neil Jordan?
posted by raysmj at 10:31 AM on December 7, 2001


Memento isn't startlingly innovative, either, especially if you've seen a few more films than make the typical 'classic' shelf at Blockbuster. It's a good refinement of a pretty standard narrative technique, well performed, but hardly 'incredibly innovative'

And raysmj: nice list, but it's a shame that Polanski's best work was behind him by the 80's, and continues to reside there.
posted by videodrome at 10:35 AM on December 7, 2001


The video shelves are stocked with movies that have "non-traditional structures," but I've never seen one try to use anterograde amnesia as the narrative foundation. That's not quite the same as just telling the story backwards. If you can think of another example, tell me, because I'd like to see it.
posted by Hildago at 10:45 AM on December 7, 2001


videodrome: Yeah, although Tess was a 1980 one, I think, or at least was up for an Oscar that year. Just found that Oscar list close by. (Wasn't sitting here waiting to use it. Just for the record.) "My Dinner with Andre," though, that's the prototype of the critic's favorite/art house film, and made in the 1980s by a foreign-born director. You could add someone the critics are more ambivalent about, or praise off-and-on, like Alan Parker, to the list as well.
posted by raysmj at 10:45 AM on December 7, 2001


yep, i loved it.
I lovedloved rushmore and bottle rocket too, a lot of people didn't, they loathed them. I'm sure I'll love the royal tennenabaums (sp?) as well.

I don't think there should be a "best movie" title given. ...too subjective. Besides, "best" to who? Maybe "most liked" or "it was our favorite" might be ok. "Best" is a bit arrogant, in someways. ....back to the discussion.
posted by tomplus2 at 10:47 AM on December 7, 2001


I guess I just wasn't paying much attention in the '80s, then. %)
posted by kindall at 10:52 AM on December 7, 2001


First of all, comparing Moulin Rouge to Memento to me is like comparing apples to oranges. How does Candide measure up against The Crying of Lot 49 (I'm not drawing an analogy between Luhrmann and Voltaire or Nolan and Pyncheon, mind you)? The reason that a film like Moulin Rouge can get nominated for something like this, and maybe even win something like this is because, while it may have polarized viewers, it was a movie that many people absolutely loved. For those of us who were Moulin Rouge devotees, it was a success that transcended the technical, it was stirring. And I imagine it must have had the same effect on many of the voters in this little committee.

As stunning as Memento was, and as profoundly as I enjoyed it, it didn't once touch my heart. To me, it was a triumph of acting, a thoroughly engaging intellectual exercise, a technical dazzler, but emotionally unaffecting. Moulin Rouge, on the other hand, was a movie with heart that had the bonus benefit of being a breathless, wonderful, nonstop, one-of-a-kind, tripped-out visual, cultural and aural experience that actually managed to address the idea of love in terms that seemed almost big enough to handle it.

Everyone appreciated Memento. Reaction to Moulin Rouge was polarized. But, oh so wonderfully polarized. People talk about this movie with the words "love" and "hate," and mean it, and any movie that can make you do that deserves a spot on this list.

posted by grrarrgh00 at 11:18 AM on December 7, 2001


Hidalgo: no, I don't know of another anterograde amnesia picture, either, but I still don't consider Memento that innovative. It is unique, but its narrative technique isn't one that can be applied to many, if any, other films. It's taken non-linear narrative and refined it, made it more specific, but hasn't created a narrative technique, so innovation is a bit beyond its grasp. It, like Moulin Rouge, is a picture that I enjoyed and won't soon forget having seen, but not much more than that. For one, I would have liked an even deeper exploration of how memory and identity are intertwined.
posted by videodrome at 11:19 AM on December 7, 2001


Note: that last comment I made, about what I would have liked out of Memento, has to be taken seperately from any critical assesment of the film. What it wanted to do and what I wanted it to do are completely seperate things and can't be seen to have an effect on one another - something that many critics would do well to mind.
posted by videodrome at 11:22 AM on December 7, 2001


PS: I did see The Deep End, also loved it. It was on my best of '01 list.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 11:23 AM on December 7, 2001


I thought Moulin Rouge was a great film.
posted by dgeiser13 at 11:26 AM on December 7, 2001


I'd just like to say that as a post critic, calling something "One of the worst films ever created" besides being incendiary, is just not the way to start a meaningful discussion.

Trip trap, trip trap.

Back under that bridge!
posted by Kafkaesque at 12:04 PM on December 7, 2001


I find it interesting that most of the criticism stems from people bemoaning the quick cuts and post-modern mish-mash that is Moulin Rouge. Isn't it time we realize that there should be directors mixing it up and trying new things?

Sure, there should be, but that doesn't mean we don't get to deride their efforts if they fail. Crap + quick cuts + pomo mish-mash = crap. The best innovators rarely dispose with traditional elements -- or if they do they somehow take their innovations to such a height that they enchant us just by being gutsy. (I think of Godard this way.) Jump-cutting in itself is not all that innovative -- what else is going on besides the editing that keeps us hooked?
posted by nedlog at 12:24 PM on December 7, 2001


To me, The Others was B O R I N G. Moulin Rouge is a very good (but not great) movie.

However, the best movies of 2001 (up to this point) are Memento, Ghost World, Mulholland Drive, and Amelie.

Nuff Said!
posted by Ben Grimm at 12:38 PM on December 7, 2001


Saw it, hated it, never want to see it again. It struck me as a load of self-indulgent post-modernist horseshit, but then I'm kind of a traditionalist as far as movies go: I like a plot, characters who make sense, and I won't turn up my nose at a happy ending.

That said, I do have a large soft spot for David Lynch's stuff. Maybe my fondness for his films used up whatever tolerance I have for avant-garde cinema.
posted by mrmanley at 12:41 PM on December 7, 2001


Momento really succeded in bumming me out. It was incredibly put together, I'll admit. It felt pointless to me though, empty. Maybe it was just the mood I've been in lately.
posted by ODiV at 12:44 PM on December 7, 2001


I think Luhrman probably would've been better off sticking to La Boheme. I thought Luhrman was trying something really cool but failed. The ironic thing is that he did make probably the best dance movie of the 1990s with Strictly Ballroom. The choppy editing made it impossible to appreciate the choreography. Unfortunately music and dance doesn't have a champion like Gene Kelly who fought the studios to include full-length ballet numbers using the rationale that American audiences more intelligent enough to appreciate them. (Although given the high level of hostility towards The Others, I have to wonder about that.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:03 PM on December 7, 2001


Just wanted to remind you people that 2001 was possibly the worst year ever for movies (at least in my life). Just look at the top-grossing movies here (taken from IMDB):

267,590,891 Shrek
225,652,237 Rush Hour 2
202,007,640 The Mummy Returns
198,527,506 Pearl Harbor
192,229,825 Monsters, Inc.
186,978,513 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
181,043,305 Jurassic Park III
179,203,079 Planet of the Apes
165,091,464 Hannibal
144,887,220 American Pie 2

What have we learned today? Fire all the actors and hire a few computers. The only good movies on that list are Shrek and Monsters, Inc.
posted by MarkO at 6:00 PM on December 7, 2001


My favorite part of Moulin Rouge? The ending! The typography in the closing credits got far more of my interest than the rest of that overrated, over-produced obnoxious schlock. Thank God I was on an airplane, and didn't have to listen to that horrible dialogue/soundtrack-- I would have been climbing the walls.

Name one heterosexual male who liked that movie, and wasn't forced to see it with their significant other... I dare you.
posted by Down10 at 6:37 PM on December 7, 2001


Name one heterosexual male who liked that movie, and wasn't forced to see it with their significant other... I dare you.

Me.

Jesus. What a load of trollish crap.
posted by videodrome at 7:01 PM on December 7, 2001


Russ my man, dat's what I'm sayin!
posted by Kafkaesque at 7:16 PM on December 7, 2001


Name one heterosexual male who liked that movie, and wasn't forced to see it with their significant other... I dare you.

Here ya go. And for the record. I may be straight, but I'm not narrow...
posted by ColdChef at 8:46 PM on December 7, 2001


Shrek was the best movie of the year. Enough with the boring "I'm a serious actor" movies that are created for the enjoyment of film students and movie critics. How about something genuinely entertaining?

If the Academy has any brains (they usually don't) it will at least get a nod for best picture, but I fear it will be ghetto-ized in the new "Best Animated Feature" category.
posted by owillis at 10:31 PM on December 7, 2001


I haven't seen ML, but I have the soundtrack and love most of it.... I actually refuse to see it because I hate Ewan McGregor... But anyway.
My pick for best of the year? Monsters, Inc.
MIKE WAZOWSKI!!
Shrek was innovative and fun, but certainly not the best... although it didn't have much competition, so I can see the reasoning there.
And maybe I'm biased because I'm an animator, so I know what they went through making those movies, and just how amazing they actually are (I know the guy who did the doors scenes in Monsters... His name is Bobby Podesta, and he worked on one scene for almost a year straight. 5,000 separate moving parts, all hand-animated. wow.).... But still. Monsters is just a great movie.
posted by po at 2:33 AM on December 8, 2001


Enough with the boring "I'm a serious actor" movies that are created for the enjoyment of film students and movie critics.

Oh, yes. God forbid you have to think while watching a film. Enough of that, I say! And if you don't like films made for students and critics, why care what the Academy thinks? Shrek made a bazillion dollars; shouldn't that be the ultimate justification of entertainment value, rather than an Academy nod? Besides, there are dozens of pictures made every year for sheer entertainment - you don't have to see all the others. How about this - we won't see anything that doesn't have Smashmouth on the soundtrack and a cardboard standee at Burger King. Agreed?

For sheer entertainment, I'll take Snatch over the two animated contenders, though it's still not my favorite of the year.

But I agree with po, at least with respect to Shrek/Monsters Inc. Shrek was fun when all that was in the other theatres were The Score and Baby Boy, but it's Monsters that I'd prefer to watch again.

But po, "ML"? Shouldn't it be "MR"?
posted by videodrome at 10:00 AM on December 8, 2001


self-indulgent post-modernist horseshit

This sounds a bit redundant to me, although I'd go ahead and add "masturbatory" as well just to drive the knife blade fully into the heart between the floating ribs.
posted by estopped at 4:35 PM on December 8, 2001


God forbid you have to think while watching a film.
There is no problem with thinking when watching a movie, there's a whole other problem with false pretension and self-indulgence. I would have liked Shrek regardless of its box office take, frankly I was surprised a movie of such quality made so much cash.
posted by owillis at 6:52 PM on December 8, 2001


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