Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Ten Movies That Defined My Decade.


1. Moulin Rouge! (Baz Luhrmann, 2001)

A lot of things can change in the course of a decade.
My love for "Moulin Rouge!" has not.
To prove it, I will close the countdown by copying a post I wrote three years ago when I had a non-movie exclusive blog and had a countdown of movies that had influenced me.
The post has been copied in its original way, but I assure you that all the giddy, childish excitement remains the same.

"Simply put: ever since I saw it for the first time no other film released after, has filled me with so much hope and undeniably vibrant life as this.
Annie Lennox (and Madonna later) wisely proclaimed that "everybody is looking for something", I agree since I'm involved in a constant search for who knows what (happiness, love...who knows?), the thing is that this movie has put a big stop on my search for cinematic perfection.
It spoiled me!
Back in August 01, for a pricey ticket, I attended the premiere in Tegucigalpa.
I knew the songs by heart since it had spawned curiosity in me ever since it began appearing on Entertainment Weekly's seasonal previews (it did in summer 00, later in winter, until it was finally postponed for 01).
I remember going to its website as early as February 01 and the colorful imagery was something I wasn't used to. It screamed kitsch, yet contained a sad honesty that never allowed it to be selfconscious, it just "was".
I bought the soundtrack and fell in love with the medleys the writers aptly concocted from sources as varied as David Bowie, Madonna, Marilyn Monroe, "The Sound of Music" and Hindi traditions.
Sitting in that dark theater room, before the film even began, I was already expecting the images would fulfill the intensity of the sounds.
I was putting a lot of pressure on it and luckily, it went over my expectations.
The minute I saw a red curtain and a tiny orchestra director appear on the screen I knew this was gonna be different.
For anyone who hasn't seen it, there's not much of an actual plot, or at least one we hadn't seen before: writer meets courtesan, courtesan sings "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend", courtesan gets consumption, writer loses courtesan.
Everything about this film is in how its told. Merging MGM musicals with MTV like editing and more costumes and glitter than you can shake a stick at, "Moulin Rouge!" more than often overwhelms you.
There's too much going on at the same time and somehow it still is capable of ringing emotions.
I haven't met anyone who didn't have a strong reaction towards it.
Those of us who love it, are practically devoted to it.
For me it's a quasi religious experience, each time I watch it it feels like going to my "happy place" (even if it sounds ridiculous considering how sad the ending is) but the mere thought of this film fills me with glee and hope.
I worship Nicole Kidman's performance and think Ewan McGregor is so good he's given for granted, I look up to Baz Luhrmann hoping one day I might get as inspired as he was to make this.
This film often pops up in my head when I think of my "favorite film ever" even if I'm too much of a snob to say it's the best one ever made.
There are those who hate the film and one can't blame them.
My dad watched about an hour and said he felt like puking, my mom loved it and so did my grandma who I remember moved me by highlighting the fact that I bring love for film in my veins.
I saw it with her once and as 20th Century Fox's fanfare filled the theater with strendous power she gasped like a little kid, later the film uses the title song from "The Sound of Music", followed by the ubiquitous can-can song. She hummed them and said "Carlos would've loved this!".
Carlos was her brother, my grand uncle and a self professed film buff (he once saw 17 films in the theater in a week!) who passed away more than ten years ago and who I often think would be my favorite uncle nowadays.
I can not force people to like this movie, truth be told I don't even want to.
I just know that almost six years after I first saw it, no other thing on Earth has impressed me as much, touched me as much or filled me with the unadultered sense of wonder I imagine people had watching the first films made.
"Moulin Rouge!" takes the rules, bends them, reinvents them, makes some work, makes some fail, but always, like the bohemian values it praises, keeps faithful to itself.
How wonderful life is, now that "Moulin Rouge!" is in the world!"

-originally published 12/18/06.

I hope you have enjoyed this countdown as much as I enjoyed sharing it with you.
May the following decade be filled with more cinematic gems.

11 comments:

CS said...

Great list of films you have compiled over the last few weeks. Moulin Rouge has a special place in my heart as well. While it did not make my decade top ten, gave it honourable mention, it is a film that everyone should see at least once.

Anonymous said...

i have a question.... why did you go to tegucigalpa to watch the movie?

Jose said...

I lived in Tegucigalpa in 2001.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

The lists were fun, you should do a list of favourite performances, though that would probably be time consuming. This film is wonderful though, but what is it with 19th century heroes/heroines and consumption? Such a generic plot, such a fantastic movie. It puzzles me sometimes.

Anonymous said...

wow i live here as well...but i study in boston.

Jose said...

I'm pleased you enjoyed it Andrew! Performances would sure be time consuming, but I think it'd be a list that would most definitely include:
Julianne Moore in Far From Heaven
Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge!
Michael Fassbender in Hunger
Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine

Anonymous, you're in TGU right now? I'm here for the holidays.

Anonymous said...

yes im here right now

Castor said...

Great top ten list Jose. I know it's a lot of work. I have been working on my top 100 for days and I'm only half way to go :( :( :(

Luke said...

That's a pretty solid number-one choice. Now, I'm curious to know what you think - which year in particular do you think was the most solid one for film?

Jose said...

Thanks Castor! Oh wow, 100 would've left me exhausted, but don't despair I'm sure it'll turn out great.

That's easy Luke, 2004.
Just think Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Before Sunset, Fahrenheit 9/11, Bad Education, Dogville, The Aviator, Maria Full of Grace, Closer, A Very Long Engagement, The Incredibles, Kill Bill Vol. 2, Million Dollar Baby...

2007 comes a close second, if only because the Oscar lineup was the best of the decade and 2001 is third.

Magicub said...

20/03/2002 the day i saw Moulin Rouge, in a theatre with jut six people, awesome