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I am absolutely in love with this film!
19 March 2004
Just saw "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," which I absolutely fell in love with, to a degree that I may not have done since "Moulin Rouge" came out. If the brilliant script by Charlie Kauffman, and directing by Michel Gondry weren't enough, a quartet of actors whose careers I have followed for a long time--Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, and Elijah Wood--all give their best performances to date. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet's chemistry, in particular, was electric. I don't want to spoil one moment of this glorious, weird, and wonderful film for anyone, but I do want to say that the last love story I have seen on film was "Lost in Translation", a film I really didn't care that much for, but everyone told me have a love story between completely three dimensional characters that fit perfectly together from their first scene together. Although the two films are very, very different, this is exactly how I would describe my feelings for Carrey and Winslet's characters. These people were flawed, frustrating, but wonderful, and wonderfully real people. Kauffman has an amazing knack for using outlandish, fantastical plots as backdrops for fascinating, completely realistic character studies. There are points in this film where you'll want to stop and rewind, or at least pause to work out what is going on in your head. The fact that, in the theatre, you can't, you are forced to sit back and watch and mull over all of the myriad details later, only adds to the film and its overall feeling of madness and loss. And just like his other films, it doesn't ever tell you how to feel nor give easy answers to the complex situations. Very impressed with the directing, too, and how for the most part, Gondry keeps it straightforward and low-key, using special effects or weird camera tricks very rarely, so that they are even more effective when they do happen. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, well if I could I would hand each of them an Oscar right now. If he in particular isn't finally taken seriously as an actor for his brilliant work in this film, it would be a damn shame.
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A note about the "ravishment scene"...
31 October 2003
Just to answer ClaudeCat's question, "It really made me wonder about the time period: did women of the 20's enjoy seeing rape fantasies onscreen, because of different attitudes about women and sex? Or was this something filmmakers of

the period imagined women wanted to see, and the fans put up with it in order to enjoy the sight of Rudolph's face?" the film was quite remarkably based on a

book written by a WOMAN and the script also was written by a WOMAN. This is

something I found very shocking when I first studied this film in film class. The rape in this film in many ways functions the same way the rape scene did in

"Gone With the Wind." In fact, in both cases, many people don't even call them rape scenes, even though in both a woman is taken against her will. Many

theories about this revolve around the fact that Valentino was this exotic, sexy, foreigner that women secretly wanted to kidnap them from their dull,

homebound lives and their conservative husbands. This is in a way what

psychologists call a "rape fantasy." Whereas a real rape, the woman has no

control, in a fantasy, even though she imagines being taken by force, she is

really the one making the rules, because she is imagining it, much as the female writer of "The Son of the Sheik" may have her character be ravished, but is really the one in control of what Valentino does. One important thing to note is a rape fantasy doesn't mean the woman actually wants to be raped in real life.
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Moulin Rouge! (2001)
I am in love with "Moulin Rouge"!
31 August 2001
I have not ever felt for a movie the way I do about "Moulin Rouge." It is not just a movie...it is a cinematic experience the likes of which I have never before seen. The story, the music, the acting, the visual imagery strikes emotion in me I never before thought possible from a film. It is without a doubt the most brilliant piece of cinematic art I have ever seen. It is dizzy, maddening, beautiful, and heartbreaking! The music is rapturous, and Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman's voices compliment each other and the story perfectly. This movie takes its story to a mythic level and surrounds these two star-crossed lovers with music and imagery that simply will take your breath away. The story is grand, huge, and operatic, as is the music. The brilliant score skillfully weaves many modern, popular songs, and rescores them as the libretto to this grand opera. There are some images in this film unlike anything you have ever seen. And the performances are absolutely incredible, particularly Nicole Kidman's. I truly felt for these two people, and truly felt that they were in love. My heart broke into a million pieces for them every time I saw this movie, and I've seen it 8 times. It's an absolutely breathtaking, visionary, masterpiece that did not get the credit it deserved by American critics, who seem to complain that every movie is the same. Yet when an original, daring, shocking film like this comes along, they don't know what to do with it. But then again, this really is not just a film. No mere film could strike me the way this one has, in a way that reaches to the very fibres of my being in a way only "The Wizard of Oz" ever has before. Yes, the story is sad, but what a journey it takes you on! A journey I will be sure to repeat over and over and over again.
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Moulin Rouge! (2001)
I am in love with "Moulin Rouge"!!
22 May 2001
I am in love with a movie, and that movie is "Moulin Rouge." This occurrence happens maybe once or twice in a decade, if one is lucky: a movie comes along that so dazzles, excites, and shakes up your notions of what a movie should be, so exceeds and surpasses your expectations as to leave you completely dazed and dazzled. For me "Moulin Rouge" was all that and more. Firstly, Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor were absolutely brilliant. Their performances were two of the most human, beautiful creations I have ever seen any actors create. Secondly, the visual design was the most sumptuous, eye-popping, fantastical one I have ever seen. The colors were so bright and awe-inspiring that it seemed to be one, long, beautiful dream. And some of the special effects were so unexpected and delightful that I will never forget them. Thirdly, the score was absolutely brilliant. Blending songs that are classic standards, such as Rodgers and Hammerstein, with modern pop songs written by the likes of the Beatles, Madonna, Elton John, and even Nirvana, and then reworking these songs into operatic-sounding pieces of musical theatre, Baz Luhrmann, the director, has finally accomplished what we have been waiting all too long for: the first great post-modern musical. Recent attempts, such as "Dancer in the Dark," have tried but failed to accomplish this, because they did not have their full heart in the musical aspect of the piece. "Dancer in the Dark," for example, had only 6 or 7 songs, most of which were quite short. In contrast, "Moulin Rouge" blends at least 30 songs in its mammoth, brilliant score. Most amazingly, all of the songs fit perfectly, despite their varied sources, and the lyrics are so perfect you would think they were written for these characters. The musical numbers themselves are so fantastically staged and choreographed that the audience in the Ziegfeld Theatre in NYC, where I saw it, spontaneously burst into applause at the close of almost every one, as if it was live theatre. That is I believe the greatest testament to the power of this film. It made people laugh, it made people cry, it made people, most of whom did not seem to be fans of musical theatre, sing. The movie got an honest to God standing ovation at the end, much like I heard happened at Cannes. When the actors names appeared at the end, people cheered, as they did when the director's name came up. Do yourself a favor, and throw all your preconceptions of this film out the window. Whether you are a fan of musical theatre or not, I can almost guarantee you will, if not fall madly in love with this movie as I have, have an experience the likes of which you have never had before. And that is saying a lot for an age when completely original films are so few and far between. Yes, "Moulin Rouge" copies cliches from many different mythic and musical sources, but it does so only to deconstruct them, turn them on their head, and create one of the most satisfying cinematic worlds I have ever seen.
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Passions (1999–2008)
A fantastic spoof/celebration of soap operas makes "Passions" the most fun show on TV.
5 April 2001
When "Passions" first came out, it was largely misunderstood. People had absolutely no idea what was going on...A show advertised as a "soap opera" with some of the regular soap opera trappings, but also a 300 year old witch and her talking doll that comes to life when no one else is around them...Does sound very strange. It took a while before viewers (and critics) came to appreciate "Passions" for the fun, campy show that it is. The fact is that "Passions" is not a straight soap opera, which may be what confounded fans of the genre. It is a sly and subtle parody of soap operas masquerading as one. While it mocks the traditional soap opera elements (people with dark pasts, fated love, twins, etc), by winking at the audience, encouraging it to find the fun in the zaniness that is so-called "serious" daytime television, it also celebrates it. "Passions" has come out with some of the craziest plots ever in any soap opera, and the magical thing about the show is that by this point, nothing is too over the top. In a recent episode, the evil witch Hecuba tied up two teenagers to boards as a swinging ax came closer and closer to them. Now, a regular soap opera (yes, you could argue a regular one would not have a witch!), would just let this be a serious problem, "Passions" has the audacity to have a cheesy announcer voice come up saying, "Will Kay and Miguel be sliced up like deli meat? Will they ever escape? Tune in tomorrow to find out!" It is a throwback to the old days of serial adventures, and it is things like this, and funny dream sequences, hilarious comedy, and great in-jokes that make "Passions" such a brilliantly written treat. The acting can also now be seen for what it is as well. Originally, people criticized the show for bad acting. Now it is accepted that the actors are overacting, mocking soap opera elements just as the script is. The best actors are Juliet Mills, as the witch Tabitha, whose earnestness elevates the witch to the level of Shakespeare, Kim Johnston Ulrich, whose scheming Ivy Crane is a blast of pure malicious energy, Tracey Ross, whose eternally upset Dr. Russell is the absolute picture of middle aged angst, and Ben Masters, whose Julien Crane is a loathsome but hilarious villian. Then, of course there's Timmy, played by Josh Ryan Evans, who deservedly won the "Best Scene Stealer" Award at this year's soap opera awards.

All in all, this is a show that must be seen to be believed, something that is very rare on television today. Entertainment Weekly rated it the best soap opera on TV, as did TV Guide. True camp brilliance!
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