Moulin Rouge!

This is that rarest of creature; a heavily female-pitched film – a musical, no less – that appeals to guys just as much as the gals. The main problem Moulin Rouge faces though is that not many men have actually seen it, immediately being put off by the idea of watching a soppy romance in France for 2 hours, where the closest thing to a bit of totty is a vapid Nicole Kidman, face set to simper, and that goddamned Lady Marmalade song is likely to be played every 10 minutes. But put aside the prejudice and you’ll find a film positively brimming with style and creativity.

Embracing its stage show inspirations we open on a curtain, a conductor commanding the orchestra to play the 20th Century Fox theme. Abandon any buttoned-up fustiness here, for what follows is a tale of bohemian values, elephant-shaped boudoirs, mistaken identity, forbidden love and some of the most gloriously hammed-up performances since the days of silent pictures, especially Jim Broadbent as red faced showman Harold Zidler and Richard Roxburgh’s snivelling Duke. The songs – mostly rejigged versions of classics from Nirvana to Queen via Shirley Bassey – are worthy of owning the soundtrack, as long as you don’t mind skipping track 2 every time, and far as I can tell the choreography isn’t bad either. The Roxanne Tango, Broadbent’s hilarious Like a Virgin and the showstopping central Elephant Medley are easily the highlights, though some of Kidman’s slower numbers do begin to drag.
Whilst Kidman and Ewan McGregor are usually far from being my favourite performers, here she is adorable and sexy, he is charming and sweet, and it is refreshing to see a cast clearly having a great time, being given the opportunity to overact to their hearts content whilst still giving tremendous performances.
Choose film 8/10

Shallow Grave

When their new flatmate is found dead in his room with a suitcase full of money under his bed, best friends Juliet (Kerry Fox), David (Christopher Eccleston) and Alex (Ewan McGregor) decide to keep the money and bury the body in the woods, in the eponymous less than permanent resting place, only to find there are others on the trail of the recently deceased. Danny Boyle’s debut picture shows promise for both the director and his young leads, but the plot is too straightforward and loses its way during one of the trio’s mid film meltdown, and the ending isn’t as clever as it needs to be. The blackly comic tone (“You’re a doctor, you kill people every day”) and some interesting and imaginative shots –a robbery from the point of view of a cash machine – almost make this worthwhile, but it is only really noteworthy as a stepping stone from which Boyle would go on to become one of the better British filmmakers of recent years.
Choose life 6/10