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The Red Curtain Trilogy

Aussie director Baz Luhrmann may be faulted for a lot of things — his editing style and personal hubris at the top of the list — but he sure knows how to market his movies. Having dubbed his artsy pop culture confections "Red Curtain Cinema," Luhrmann and Fox Home Video now offers all three special edition DVDs of Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge in one big, shiny, spendy package. The five-disc set offers the already fully loaded DVDs (one disc each for Ballroom and Romeo, plus two for Moulin Rouge) plus a new bonus disc of extras tiled (what else?) Behind the Red Curtain. The disc boasts four sections: The House of Iona, a frenetic and ultimately unsatisfying tour of Luhrmann's studio/headquarters/compound. Much of this should be fascinating; instead, we feel like we're being dragged by the hand from room to room, allowed to glimpse just enough to pique our interest before we're yanked to another location. As we're hurried through, we get tiny peeks at the place where Moulin Rouge was developed, in what looks like an ante-bellum mansion subdivided to make space for computer geeks, film editors, choreographers, Web designers and sound people; Luhrmann's manse houses a recording studio, dance studio, costumers and a grand ballroom that, he says, they only use for special occasions. Must be nice. Red Curtain Cinema offers the charming Luhrmann talking candidly about his career to date, including early works, influences and anecdotes. In this interactive feature, the viewer can select pop-up words "on the fly" and branch off into more detail (when Baz talks about being a ballroom dancer as a child, for example, the words "Ballroom Dancer" appear; select them, and you get to see home movies of him dancing). Some of these bits are sort of dull, but others — snippets of Bollywood films, video of his early staging of La Boheme and such — are delightful. There are branches-within-branches, and over two hours of material here to explore. The Showbag section offers scripts for all three films, music videos, screensavers and DVD-ROM content. Credits are, well, the credits. For everything. Lots of them. All of this is presented in classic, over-the-top Luhrmann style, and (if only for the second section) it's a nice addition for lovers of Luhrmann's films.
—Dawn Taylor

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