Romeo + Juliet [Blu-Ray] Baz Luhrmann

Romeo + Juliet [Blu-Ray] Baz Luhrmann
Baz Luhrmann is beloved by theatre aficionados and loathed by film academics. Why? He's a theatre director that continually insists on making films that are abrasive and desultory, screaming at the audience from a stage, but in close, oppressing those that need a bit of space. Still, for its Coles Notes interpretation of Shakespeare and flailing, rapid-edit, MTV attempt to be hip to the youngsters (look, it's Angela Chase from My So-Called Life), this rendition of Romeo + Juliet is indeed quite relevant to its time, rendered culturally viable by its change in narrative priority and representation of art made superficial. More interested in vilifying the corporate enterprise it inadvertently celebrates, doling out exposition from newscasters, flashing skyscrapers and billboards at every opportunity, this Shakespearean update even misses that the Bard's famous romance is more a tale of infatuation, repression and youthful irreverence than one of love. Romeo (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Juliet (Claire Danes) swoon for each other, giving doe-eyed glances through aquariums and by starlight, delivering their dialogue like high school students thinking, "iambic pentame-what?" Mercutio (Harold Perrineau) waltzes around in drag and Tybalt (John Leguizamo) seethes in his own personal gangsta's paradise. Flamboyantly, they screech their dialogue, inflecting unlikely syllables while dancing and posturing around gaudy, overly saturated sets. It's as though Luhrmann wanted to cram in as much erroneous crap as possible, even down to the soundtrack, lumping together Latin music, a children's choir, Radiohead and the Butthole Surfers, further scoring the tepid scenes attempting to be faithful with the blasé string music of television drama. Incidentally, the main supplement on the Blu-Ray is a documentary on the soundtrack, which speaks more towards mercurial obsession than context. Similarly, the picture-in-picture commentary with irrelevant visual flair talks of everything thrown together and the awesomeness of modernizing a classic without ever stepping back to ask themselves what the bigger picture, or focus, actually was. Regardless, this is a landmark achievement for its time, ushering in the internet and reality television era of the late '90s with flippant, unfocused aplomb and ebullience. (Fox)