I remember the first Baz Luhrmann film I ever saw. It was his contemporary remake of Romeo and Juliet (under the much more “hip” title Romeo + Juliet). My 7th grade English teacher was making us watch it in a desperate attempt to get middle schoolers to actually care about Shakespeare. It was, of course, a failed exercise because middle schoolers don’t care about anything except for awkward flirtation and hating everything.
I recall seeing the over-saturated colors, constant camera changes, and a pre-acting talent Leonardo DiCabrio and thinking in my adolescent mind “What the fuck is this shit? I’m a child and even I think this is too much. At least John Leguizamo does a good job.” Once the credits hit, I saw the words A Film By Baz Luhrmann. I vowed to never see another film by this awful director with a goofy name.
As I got older, I began hearing girls in my class gush about the movie Moulin Rouge. Out of attraction-induced curiosity, I decided to give the movie a shot.
Once again: “What the fuck is this shit? Why can’t everyone just hold still for two seconds? Why is that guy singing Roxanne? I’m getting a headache. At least John Leguizamo does a good job. Hey, wait a minute. This sounds really familiar…” After what seemed like an eternity of ADD-editing and crappy music covers, the credits rolled. Sure enough: A Film By Baz Luhrmann.
That sonofabitch. He got me again.
Baz Luhrmann is the prince regent of style over substance. Every single scene in his films are dedicated to the idea that if you bombard the audience with enough pretty pictures and pop music, they will forget that the scene itself is a fiery turd. Subtlety does not exist in Baz Luhrmann films. A monster truck being driven by a rabid elephant on methamphetamine is slightly more low-key than your average Baz Luhrmann piece.
After his last film, Australia (a film that I have seen and remember literally nothing about, other than Hugh Jackman being someone other than Wolverine), I assumed that he had vanished into well-deserved obscurity. Unfortunately, he’s decided to masturbate all over the big screen yet again with his adaptation of the Great Gatsby. I only had to get a few seconds in the trailer before realizing that it would be so much more of the same. Specifically, when I heard an auto-tuned Kanye West over the soundtrack. Now, I’m no historian, but I’m pretty sure that autotuning did not exist in the 1920’s. Nor Kanye West, for that matter. The justification is that audiences today will need to hear today’s pop music to understand the reaction to the popular music of Gatsby’s era.
The actual reason is that Baz Luhrmann is an unimaginative hack that literally cannot artistically communicate in any way other than exploiting the oh-so-sophisticated tastes of middle-to-high-school aged children.
Also, it has Tobey Maguire in it. And you just can’t forgive that.