In a few years we're all going to blame "A Knight's Tale" and "Moulin Rouge" for a trend that's undoubtedly going to pervade every nook and cranny of film. In fact, blame may be too light a word. Perhaps we'll be organizing events where director Baz Luhrman is let loose in a field and hunted down by hungry dogs.
Remember the word "anachronism" because you're likely to hear it a lot. It appears to be the next big thing in cinematic style: Take a cool historical era or event, and then score it to some overplayed modern rock tune. In Luhrman's case, he's set his film in 1900 Paris in the famous Moulin Rouge while his characters sing and dance to vaguely recognizable versions of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and Madonna's "Like a Virgin." (Luhrman will next be scoring a film about the Crusades to the hits of Right Said Fred.)
The effect of all this is that just about any moron in the audience can rightly claim, "I recognize that!" Well, of course you do, you pop-culture whore. Not only do the characters sing the songs, but they speak the lyrics as dialogue. Christian (Ewan McGregor) falls in love with Moulin Rouge's most famous performer and courtesan, Satine (Nicole Kidman), and starts rattling off love-related song titles in an effort to convince her not to sleep around and to commit to a life with him instead. Standing in their way is the mean Duke (Richard Roxburgh), who doesn't know very many clever pop tunes and thus seems entirely unhip.
Why Luhrman bothers to set this film anywhere is a mystery. 1900 Paris looks like a computer game, and let's face it, if courtesans looked like Nicole Kidman and Catherine McCormack (remember "Dangerous Beauty"?), the human race would have died out long ago because there would have been a line of men with hard-ons from Paris to Moscow abandoning their usual fertilization duties in favor of hot courtesan sex. No matter how you slice it, this is still a hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold story. Couldn't Satine have simply been a showgirl? Luhrman could have named her Lola. The film could have been set just north of Havana.
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