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December 17, 2001:

COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS OR TRUTH, BEAUTY AND LOVE

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, I thought it would be very exciting to have a countdown to Christmas. For example, it is now eight days until Christmas, or seven days until Christmas Eve. Well, maybe it’s not very exciting. Maybe it’s not even halfway exciting. It’s kind of stupid, really, when you think about it, which I am. That is just about the stupidest thing, a countdown to Christmas. I’m dropping that idea right here and now and also right now and here because it is just so unrelentingly stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I hope the “idea” doesn’t get bruised whilst I’m dropping it – that would be unseemly, a bruised idea. Well, since I’m doing the dropping, I suppose it should be a Bruced idea. What the hell am I talking about?

By the way, if you missed any of the weekend ramblings, I suggest you stop reading these here notes immediately, and click the Unseemly Archive Button located at the top of the page. Once there, I suggest you catch up – there are thing I shall refer to in today’s notes that will harken back to things I brought up in the weekend notes, and you will simply not know what the hell I’m talking about unless you are caught up and in the loop. You will not be in the loop if you are not caught up and if you are not caught up you will not be in the loop. It will be as if you are flailing about in a large pool without knowing how to swim. You will be flailing wildly because you are in a large pool and not in the loop, which, by the way, is pool spelled backwards. And, for those who were wondering, “flailing” spelled backwards is “gnilialf”. Certainly I am flailing about wildly in these here notes.

Oh, perhaps we should just get it over with and click that damnable Unseemly Button below.

There, it felt good clicking that damnable Unseemly Button below (well, it’s no longer below below below, yo ho). Where was I? Oh, yes, flailing about wildly in a pool without being able to swim on account of not being in the loop.

David Levy has sent me the very first trivia question for next Saturday’s very first trivia question weekend contest. It is our shameless ploy (yolp, spelled backwards) to get more people to this here site on the weekends, although, that said, traffic has been on the rise, weekend visit-wise. We shall call this brand spanking new feature The Unseemly Trivia Quiz by the Unseemly David Levy. That’s a mouthful, but so is… oops, I’ll just stop right there. Now, you see, if you hadn’t caught up and gotten yourself in the loop, you wouldn’t know that a dear reader had castigated me for no trivia question this week.

Last night, I dreamt I was at Manderly, but before that I watched the brand spanking new Special Edition two DVD set of Mr. Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge. I know that opinion on this film is sharply divided (no mean feat). The film has rabid fans, loyal devotees, people who think it’s the best thing they’ve ever seen. And the film also has people who hate it with a passion, think it’s wretched, think the use of the modern songs in a period film is ridiculous and just hate the very excess of it. So, where do I fall in the Moulin Rouge critical spectrum. Well, certainly not with the people who think it’s the best thing they’ve ever seen. But also, certainly not with the people who hate it. I thought it was very well done for what it was. And what was it? Well, that’s the Moulin Rouge conundrum, isn’t it? First off, I’m very tired of these new-fangled film techniques (started in The Matrix, really, or at least popularized there), they’ve become a bore (used endlessly in Spy Game, too). The sudden speeding up of a shot, only to slow down in the middle, the extensive use of CGI in every single shot in a film. Stop, say I, and tell me the story. Stop, say I, showing off. But some would say the style over content is the very point of Moulin Rouge. And, I suppose, that’s a valid argument. But, for me, it’s like eating twelve chocolate bars in a row, or twelve hot fudge sundaes in a row – it’s too much sensory overload.

The story, of course, seems to be Camille, as imagined by Ken Russell. No one seems to have invoked Mr. Russell in reviews, and yet this film clearly is indebted to his peculiar brand of excess (I’m a big fan of his film version of The Boy Friend). It is also clearly indebted to Jacques Demy (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and The Young Girls of Rochefort), and yet neither of those names come up in Mr. Baz Luhrmann’s commentary track or endless talks in the various supplements (well, at least I didn’t hear them, but I’ll admit I didn’t listen to everything, because that would take ten hours). The quick cutting was very annoying during the musical numbers, but it was also annoying in the scenes, too. It’s like filmmakers today are just too pandering to young people who have no attention span. The songs, while very peculiar and weird, didn’t bother me all that much, although it’s all very distancing and one never really gets involved with the characters. Fun, in a certain way, but tiring after awhile. Certainly the film looks gorgeous – the set design is wonderful, as is the camerawork and all that CGI stuff. And Mr. Luhrmann is clearly talented. I liked Ewan MacGregor very much, and Nicole was fine, too. Jim Broadbent is great, and uncannily like a clone of Leo McKern.

The DVD is spectacular in every aspect. If you are one of the Moulin Rouge fanatics, this will be the DVD of the year for you. The film (with commentary) is on Disc One. Disc Two has so many extras that you’d better be prepared to devote many many hours to watching them. One of the best features, is the multicamera angles on four of the musical numbers, so you can watch the choreography without all the quick cutting. I do like that the film is about truth, beauty, and love. Those are three very nice things. It’s amazing to me that there are people in the world who really don’t have a clue about truth, beauty and love, especially truth. At least I’m told that there are people like that and it does have the ring of, well, truth about it, doesn’t it? In any case, if you haven’t seen Moulin Rouge, see it and judge for yourself. Certainly, it has personality and a strong visual sense, which is more than you can say for most films these days.

What am I, Roger Ebert? Well, at least it’s a musical, and I have promised to talk more about musicals, so at least there was truth in my promise, as well as beauty and love. Truth, beauty and love are fine holiday words, are they not? Especially truth. I think all people who bend the truth or tell outright lies to benefit themselves should rot in the bowels of hell, don’t you? Also, the people who make things ugly and whose lives are filled with selfish negativity should also rot in the bowels of hell, don’t you? Truth, beauty and love. That’s the ticket, dear readers, and to hell with anyone who doesn’t understand those three simple words.

What the hell am I going on about? I must run and get dressed because Mr. David Wechter will be here at any minute (in fact, I think I just heard his car door). Have you ever dressed whilst running? Very difficult. Oops, the doorbell. Tomorrow I shall start a little journal about the creation of our new musical comedy. In the meantime, remember, only eight days until Christmas, for those who are counting.

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