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Fictional account of French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
Fictional account of French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
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“Moulin Rouge” has all the style of a coupe glass of absinthe being sipped by a man wearing a top hat and tails.
Its structure, though, is as dizzy and messy as the walk home after all that absinthe sipping has come to an end.
Director John Huston’s biopic is more of a fic-optic account of impressionist artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The paintings and names of the era will seem familiar, but the story around them is a myth woven by Huston for aesthetic effect.
Unfortunately, it’s a myth hardly worth telling.
Like the paintings of the central subject, Huston’s images are vivid enough on their own, so that the narrative elements have all the import of a plastic informational…
"I am a painter of the streets and of the gutter."
Aside from whatever inherent value there is in seeing a thirteenth John Huston film (that Criterion Channel happens to be dumping at month's end), I was especially motivated to watch Moulin Rouge because of its considerable impact on Bob Fosse as noted by biographer Sam Wasson. Perhaps for the sake of concision, Wasson reflects that Huston's film was "one of Fosse's favorite movie musicals" and cites the fractured editing of the cancan sequences as a formative influence, but apart from that he declines to synopsize the film. I wish he'd chosen otherwise, if only so I could have prepared myself for flaccid biopic vibes when I was anticipating a…
I’m going to dispel any confusion straightaway and state it is utter false advertisement to title this movie Moulin Rouge, when the bulk of the film takes place in the dank, desolate apartment of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and not at the titular Parisian cabaret. Perfidiously presenting itself as a musical extravaganza of the famed birthplace of French cancan, John Huston instead presents a bowdlerized biopic of Lautrec—an invented history punctuated with formulaic romantic subplots, maudlin flourishes and melodramatic flashbacks.
It’s unfortunate that only a few scenes take place in the Moulin Rouge, because that’s when the film is at its zestiest. Historically-accurate costume designs by Marcel Vertès were based off Lautrec’s posters of the Moulin Rouge and its dancers (namely…
While a gorgeous technicolor explosion of color, John Huston's Moulin Rouge simply does not really click. It touches on some similar Huston themes regarding human nature - namely primal instincts, birth circumstances, and self-loathing - though it never really dives into its characters that are under its lens. Instead, its portrayal of Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (Jose Ferrer) sort of skims through his life at the Moulin Rouge, his loves, and his alcoholism that eventually killed him. In particular, the romantic elements really falter and given their significance in the story, it was essential to get those portions right. No matter how beautiful Moulin Rouge may be, it simply never really sings and performs the…
[October Marathon of John Huston movies leaving Criterion Channel at the end of the month that I haven't seen 7/9]
"Oh they are cruel. They only pretend to applaud my song. What they really want is another glimpse at my broken heart."
"You must learn not to think of the cost."
I'm trying not to think too hard about the time this one cost me. Moulin Rouge follows the tortured soul, painter Henri de Toulousse-Lautrec (Jose Ferrer), through his romantic entanglement with sex worker Marie Charlet (Colette Marchand) and his struggles with life's misfortunes. The Moulin Rouge nightclub serves as his watering hole and refuge against the buffeting storm of fortune which unrelenting keeps him from finding happiness.
The title is a bit misleading. This isn't a movie about the turn-of-the-(20th)-century Parisian nightspot, but rather the artist who made it famous. For a significant stretch it's preoccupied with Henri de Toulouse-Latrec's passionate love affair with a tragic woman of the streets, which is fairly compelling, only to return to more pedestrian matters. Anyone with a significant disability has every right in the world to wallow in self-pity, but when a movie does so, well, it's tiresome.
I understand the film's need to have a full-sized movie star (Jose Ferrer) playing a half-sized man, but director John Huston's constant exertions to render this believable -- and often it's not -- constantly took me out of the picture. The most notable aspect of this Best Picture nominee is its ambitious color cinematography and production design, but I saw a muddy, dark and fairly awful print that made the movie look like a watercolor left out in the rain.
“The censors of the early fifties wouldn't have allowed Toulouse-Lautrec’s real life to be made into a picture.” — John Huston
Huston finds away around the common problem of artist and writer biopics — watching artists slowly create something. In the opening cabaret scene we see Lautrec slugging cognac and sketching on a tablecloth (actually the the hand of a noted ex-forger gone legit) while all about him swirl the flying legs and frilly pantaloons of the leggy can-can dancers, all rendered using an original Technicolor process bringing Lautrec’s vivid lithograph posters to life. “I was going to try to use color on the screen as Lautrec had used it in his paintings,” Huston said, “Our idea was to flatten…
When you think of a title like "Moulin Rouge", you would be expecting something like Jean Renoir's "French Cancan", a film about the beginning of the french cancan in the Moulin Rouge. In fact, John Huston's "Moulin Rouge" is not about the Moulin Rouge establishment but rather one of its most proeminent costumers, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, a man whose condition gave name to pycnodysostosis, the Toulouse-Lautrec Syndrome. At first, I found it so weird the way José Ferrer was characterized but seeing pictures of the real Toulouse-Lautrec was striking as they had done such a good job to recreate what he looked like.
It has that classical film feel. It looks wonderful with the vibrant colours and theatrical acting. It's a Hollywood biopic with emphasis on the values and the drama, and I was absolutely ok with that. I think the way John Huston does it simply works well.
One of the most interesting-looking Technicolor films I've seen. It doesn't try and evoke a painting come to life, but instead uses diffused light and soft colours to create a sweaty, grimy atmosphere that's different from what we tend to think of when we hear the phrase "midcentury costume drama". The sets and costumes are perhaps more conventional in nature, but that doesn't stop them from being splendid. And all this is good, because the film is monstrously boring. The screenplay can't figure out how to make any of its characters interesting: I have no idea how many films had defined a real-life artist almost solely in terms of their disastrous love life in 1952, but nowadays everything about the…
I think I've put off this version because I didn't think it could live up to Baz Luhrmann's 2001 film. I know the latter has its detractors but it's endlessly vibrant, creative, and alive. Plus it really connected to my still in the closet teenage self.
John Huston's Moulin Rouge is a misfire for me. While I didn't expect the zaniness of Luhrmann's film it doesn't really deliver much else. It's woefully mis-titled because it's story entirely focuses on artist, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and features only 2-ish scenes at the Moulin Rouge. José Ferrer gives a very rigid and unemotional performance that had me wondering if this was his first film. It's not, he won a whole Oscar two years prior and was somehow nominated for this. Bonkers if you ask me. The few standouts are the Rouge scenes themselves and Zsa Zsa Gabor and her infectiously familiar voice. The rest is forgettable.
Very little of this takes place at the Moulin Rouge, so the title doesn’t quite fit the movie. However, besides that I enjoyed this. I especially liked the dialogue. I wasn’t that fond of Jose Ferret’s performance but the overall structure of the film and the dialogue between characters is where I felt the movie thrived the most.
Well well John Huston old pal, they can't all be home runs can they? They can't all be home runs can they. This is a deeply boring film, with a guy who is doing way too good of a job portraying an asshole depressed sadsack painter as the central figure. Too many stuffy conversations, not enough color and dance!
Zsa Zsa Gabor is fabulous and it's cool to see Peter Cushing show up. But this is just not an interesting film. Nothing super intriguing happens.
I don't find the tormented genius thing interesting, unless the character is actually likable in some way. It's appropriate that the first example that comes to mind is Roy Scheider in All That Jazz, because…