William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet: Music Edition Baz Luhrmann

You can probably best enjoy this Romeo and Juliet if you forget there ever was a person named William Shakespeare. Not that you actually can enjoy it but the eye gouging theatrics of Baz Luhrmann will seem less grotesque when not attached to the memory of someone who knew how to string words together. Unfortunately, shards of the Bard peek out from the director’s garish colours and caffeine freak editing, and they cry out for someone to listen rather than be assaulted by the psycho test from The Parallax View. Though Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio make a suitably dreamy R&J, the talented supporting cast (including John Leguizamo, Paul Sorvino, Brian Dennehy and Pete Postlethwaite) are directed to play in a leering death-rictus that does further violence to the words on the page. Call me old fashioned but Shakespeare was primarily about people talking, which makes it inexcusable that this barrage of stale imagery crowds the words out just to land on your head with a thud. I’m sure Luhrmann has all sorts of pseudo-intellectual defences for his camp travesty (in the liner notes, he praises Shakespeare’s "aggressive, sexy, noisy, rambunctious” way), but even if you buy his demurrals the movie is like a migraine headache but not nearly as fun. As Shakespeare it’s bad, as storytelling it’s bad, as cutting two shots so they might go together it’s the absolute worst. Flee in terror. Now available in a music-centric special edition, the three commentaries here feature Luhrmann (articulate) and composers Marius De Vries (very articulate) and Craig Armstrong (not so much), an excellent 45-minute documentary that talks about all of the innovative ways the music was used to annoy, a brief clip of the music/sound team describing their studio digs, and three sound cues explored in demos and rehearsals. (Fox)