Baz Luhrmann is an intensely divisive film maker. While most everyone will eagerly throw their support behind his campy, kinetic debut, Strictly Ballroom, opinions are much more mixed when he started mucking about with Shakespeare and consumptive prostitutes. And, just so we’re clear about where this “reporter” stands, I will defend every single thing Baz has done except Australia. That thing is plain indefensible. And so it’s with a wary, bitchy eye that many folks are watching to see what he does with that sacred cow of American Literature, The Great Gatsby. And, since most ordinary folk have only seen the trailers and heard the soundtrack, that’s where most of the nits are being picked. Personally (and controversially given my reputation for being an adaptation stickler) I’m on board with what Luhrmann is selling. I’ve been playing the soundtrack on a steady loop and, with the exception of that rather unsettling Beyonce track, it’s amazing. You can listen and judge for yourself here. And while I’ll certainly entertain many of your opinions when it come to pre-hating a movie you haven’t seen, I refuse to accept the idea that anachronistic music makes for bad filmmaking. It has been done poorly, but it’s also been done beautifully. And, foolishly, in Baz I trust.
Ladyhawke: Synthtacular, synthtacular.
Gangs Of New York: The energy of the opening Battle Of The Five Points is ramped up to 11 thanks in large part to Peter Gabriel’s crunchy futuristic soundtrack. This is when everything in the film is beautiful before Cameron Diaz drags the whole enterprise to the ground.
Django Uchained: I could listen to this John Legend track all day. I just might.
House of Pleasures: An already moody and eery project is made all the more haunting by clever use of The Moody Blues.
Dirty Dancing: There are a lot of jamming songs from the 60s in this cult classic, but the song most people remember is the very 80s-sounding “Time Of Your Life.” Does then anachronism matter? Not even a little bit.
Marie Antoinette: The movie doesn’t work on the whole. All the deeper, emotional moments fall flat. But the musical sequences and Coppola’s attempt to parallel the decadent 80s with the opulent 1780s are absolutely jaw-droppingly phenomenal. It’s a pity the rest couldn’t live up.
Legend: Once again, the synth heavy soundtrack does nothing to detract from Ridley Scott’s ridiculously enjoyable film. If you can accept whatever it is Tim Curry is doing here, you can accept the electronic music.
Moulin Rouge: Not every second of anachronistic tuneage worked in this film. Yes, “Like A Virgin” sequence, I’m looking at you and your quivering jello molds. But the floor-stomping, bodice ripping energy behind the “El Tango De Roxanne” sequence coupled with Jose Feliciano’s roaring delivery almost drives the thought of The Police out of your mind. Almost. And yeah, that Jose Feliciano. Feliz Navidad, everyone.
Inglorious Basterds: This is maybe one of the most divisive instances of anachronistic music in Tarantino’s body of work. Many hated the use of Bowie, I, on the other hand, found myself holding my breath with delight.
Joanna Robinson intentionally did not include A Knight’s Tale on here but will, nonetheless, pledge her undying devotion to Lichtenstein. He’s blonde! He’s tan! He comes from Gelderland! Send her your best Paul Bettany bum shots here.
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