“William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet” (1996) Modernizes Classic

Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet (B+) features a Floridian gang war set to iambic pentameter and a soliloquy submerged in the deep end of a swimming pool. It’s a tropical-infused, altogether modern take, set in America with young stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes doing superb work as the central tragic lovers. The director has a strange way of distancing viewers from his concept for the first 30 minutes or so before the film settles into a beautiful rhythm. By the time a chorus is singing “When Doves Cry,” most are won over. The movie dazzles and moves and rarely misses a beat of what the Bard intended.