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Classic tale reborn Modern-day Romeo Juliet a magical visual triumph Its a rotten shame there is no Oscar for Audacity because filmmaker Baz Luhrmann would win it in a walkThe Australian director-producer-co-writer of Strictly Ballroom has chucked all manner of timeworn Shakespearean conventions in his sexy explosive magical new version of Romeo and Juliet At the same time despite liberal cuts he uses the Bards poetry with respectThis film is an amazing feat of ambition and imagination William Shakespeares Romeo Juliet as it is formally known casts the Capulets and Montagues as gangs ruled by ruthless dons in a 20th-century city of tropical heat and lethal competitionVerona and neighboring Verona Beach are patchworks of decay and lurid wealth where young toughs carry Sword brand guns decorated with religious icons and billboards advertise Propsero Whiskey and Out Out Damn Spot CleanersAmong the many smart choices Mr Luhrmann has made is casting Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes as the young lovers These exceptionally talented and self-assured actors carry the intense love story without being overwhelmed by the baroque madness that swirls around themThe supporting cast is almost uniformly wonderful including Pete Postlethwaite as Father Laurence Miriam Margolyes as the Nurse Diane Venora as Juliets histrionic mother Paul Sorvino as her cruel father and Vondie Curtis-Hall as Captain Prince Mr Luhrmann uses costumes music settings and camera work to make these secondary characters seem real and contemporary in unexpected ways just as he makes the family war familiar and frightening as the evening newsThe movie weaves a rich tapestry Its soundtrack mixes rap rock and classical tunes Visually it borrows with taste and wit from opera television music videos gangster movies Westerns even Hong Kong martial-arts masters The effect is beautiful a delirious vision a feast for the eyes and ears I have some quibbles with the film - Mr Sorvinos odd accent bad cutting in the key role of Mercutio - but those
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