Australia

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Eric
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Postby Eric » Wed Nov 19, 2008 11:53 am

It's a hetero thing to prefer dull to ridiculous?

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Postby Mister Tee » Wed Nov 19, 2008 11:43 am

Here's a review out of Australia Jeff Wells has posted, which confirms all my worst fears. I know there are those here who revel in camp, but my tolerance for it approaches zero (part of the dread heterosexual gene, I presume). Yet I can think of two all-time Academy favorites that could be described in much the same fashion (hint: the Civil War and a big boat), so the chances of this film obliterating all the rest in the field are not inconsequential.


Sydney Morning Herald Critic Sandra Hall, who's been on the beat for 30 years, has posted the best-written review of Australia yet. "Nothing succeeds like excess," she begins. "Oscar Wilde coined the phrase and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Baz Luhrmann has it embroidered on scatter cushions all over the house.

"Not that he needs reminding. It is a mantra stamped on everything he does and Australia is the apotheosis. It has become the movie as superhero, charged with the job of rescuing the Australian film industry and giving us a new and shiny view of ourselves. And shiny it certainly is.

"It's also much too long at almost three hours, deliriously camp and shamelessly overdone -- an outback adventure seen through the eyes of a filmmaker steeped in the theatrical rituals and hectic colors of old-fashioned showbiz. To quote Oklahoma, one of the few Hollywood classics not to lend its influence to Luhrmann's style, or rather medley of styles, the corn is as high as an elephant's eye.

"And so strong is his urge to celebrate the exoticism of old Australia that you half-expect to see the elephant, as well, lumbering across one of those majestic stretches of the Kimberley. Yet the film's vigor and yes, its passion -- that overused word -- do engage you.

"Anachronisms abound. Kidman and Jackman speak quaintly of doing a drove. There's an action sequence that pushes the concept of the cliffhanger much further than it was ever meant to go, and Sarah's romance with the Drover is rife with Mills & Boon moments."

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Postby OscarGuy » Wed Nov 19, 2008 7:43 am

I love Moulin Rouge and think Romeo and Juliet is a very interesting take on the Shakespeare classic. However, when I watched the most recent trailer for Australia, I got this vague since of unmitigated disaster that could just be a poorly edited trailer, but I'll give the movie a shot.
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Postby Uri » Wed Nov 19, 2008 1:51 am

paperboy wrote:Have you seen Strictly Ballroom? That's his one great film.

I think "likeable" was the word you were looking for, not "great". And the accent and a less than traditionally beautiful leading lady helped diverting our minds from the generic qualities of it.

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Postby paperboy » Tue Nov 18, 2008 10:27 pm

MovieWes wrote:I hate Luhrmann's films (both William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge! are among the most embarrassing things I've ever had the bad fortune to sit through), but this looks pretty good to me. And his modernized stage production of Giacomo Puccini's La Boheme was one of the most beautiful operas I've ever watched.

Have you seen Strictly Ballroom? That's his one great film.

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Postby Penelope » Tue Nov 18, 2008 10:20 pm

Mister Tee wrote:And for those of us who consider wide-screen epics the dullest memory of our childhoods?

I cherish them, even the dull ones. They're what got me interested in history. (Of course, now I know they weren't very accurate much of the time, but, still....)
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Postby Damien » Tue Nov 18, 2008 6:52 pm

Penelope wrote:
Meanwhile, Jackman looks good in his Akubra bush hat.

I love this line.

What about those of us that love being swept away by wide-screen epics, but can't stand Luhrman's style? My gut tells me this might be right up there (or down there) with Pearl Harbor.

By definition, a Baz Luhrman film is a worthless piece of junk. Even if it's nominated for 15 Oscars, there's no way I'm sitting through this thing.




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Postby MovieWes » Tue Nov 18, 2008 5:17 pm

I hate Luhrmann's films (both William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge! are among the most embarrassing things I've ever had the bad fortune to sit through), but this looks pretty good to me. And his modernized stage production of Giacomo Puccini's La Boheme was one of the most beautiful operas I've ever watched.



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Postby Sabin » Tue Nov 18, 2008 5:16 pm

I can't imagine 'Australia' being a hit. It seems destined to be a box office disappointment. People forget that 'Moulin Rouge!' was only a modest hit until video and then began to clean up. At a budget of $120 million, it costs over twice that of 'Moulin Rouge!' and after P&A this film will need to gross between $150 - $175 million to be considered a success. The movie just looks like a box office disappointment and that does not bode well for its Oscar chances. It's like to do far better overseas but I don't think there are that many people in America who care about Hugh Jackman when he's not Wolverine or Nicole Kidman now that she's apparently become a tranny.
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Postby Mister Tee » Tue Nov 18, 2008 4:33 pm

And for those of us who consider wide-screen epics the dullest memory of our childhoods?

Dread is the word I now have for this film. As in, I'll have to put myself through three dreary hours because Academy voters lap up this sort of crap.

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Postby Penelope » Tue Nov 18, 2008 2:12 pm

Meanwhile, Jackman looks good in his Akubra bush hat.

I love this line.

What about those of us that love being swept away by wide-screen epics, but can't stand Luhrman's style? My gut tells me this might be right up there (or down there) with Pearl Harbor.




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Postby Sonic Youth » Tue Nov 18, 2008 2:03 pm

First real review.

What I gather from this one-and-only-one review: those who are swept away by wide-screen epics will be swept away by this. Those who despise Luhrmann won't change their mind. But this might serve a purpose if you have a kitsch jones that needs fulfilling every now and then.

Film Review: Australia

By Megan Lehmann
Hollywood Reporter


Opens: Nov. 26, U.S. and Australia (20th Century Fox)

SYDNEY -- With his audaciously titled epic "Australia," Baz Luhrmann has delivered a shamelessly melodramatic, often eccentric spectacle with true-blue blockbuster potential. The most expensive Australian film ever made is rousing and passionate. Despite some cringe-making Harlequin Romance moments between homegrown Hollywood stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, the 1940s-set "Australia" defies all but the most cynical not to get carried away by the force of its grandiose imagery and storytelling.

And, yes, there are kangaroos.

Tourism Australia may have politely requested their inclusion, with hopes for a tourist revival riding on this $130 million Outback tale, along with what seems like the future of the entire local film industry. If Luhrmann felt the weight of that responsibility, it doesn't show. His "Australia" is much less earnest than the trailer suggests, layered with a thin veneer of camp and a nod and a wink to accompany the requisite Aussie cliches.

Having shunned the recent grinding run of bleak suburban micro-dramas, Australians are primed to embrace his monumental magic-realist vision, which honors the country's heritage and celebrates the invigorating majesty of its landscape.

Even if it does run a butt-numbing 2 hours and 45 minutes, the film has broad appeal for international audiences with plenty of stirring action sequences to make the blokes more comfortable with a particularly blatant shot of bare-chested Jackman lathering up under the shower.

Fashioned in the style of classics such as "Gone With the Wind" and "Lawrence of Arabia," "Australia" follows the fortunes of persnickety Englishwoman Lady Sarah Ashley (Kidman), who inherits a sprawling cattle property in northwestern Australia.

Under threat of a takeover, she reluctantly enlists the help of a Marlboro Man-style stockman known only as the Drover (Jackman) to help drive 1,500 head of cattle across the Top End of Australia to the port of Darwin, ahead of its bombing by the Japanese.

Unlike "Gone With the Wind," which skirted the political context of the Civil War, the controversial issue of the so-called Stolen Generation is more than a mere backdrop for the emotional upheavals experienced by the film's leads. Luhrmann, who makes a habit of upending convention, has plonked the attempted assimilation of mixed-race Aboriginal children into Western culture front and center, making this as much a story of reconciliation between black and white Australia as it is between the untamed local and the aristocratic import.

Enter the film's breakout star: 13-year-old Brandon Walters, playing young mixed-race boy Nullah. By turns cheeky and heartrending, the limpid-eyed newcomer knits the disparate threads of this sweeping epic together, single-handedly lending this showcase of amplified emotions its true heart.

Pin thin and ramrod straight, Kidman gives one of her most engaging performances, occasionally harking back to the comic highs of "To Die For." Meanwhile, Jackman looks good in his Akubra bush hat.

Performances are strong throughout, particularly from David Wenham as Lady Ashley's malevolent rival and David Gulpilil as Nullah's mystical grandfather, King George.

While the "Wizard of Oz" motif is labored and the narrative hits a few speed bumps, all is forgiven when Luhrmann brings out one of his stunning set pieces, like a thrilling cattle stampede along a cliff edge.

Cinematographer Mandy Walker, who collaborated with Luhrmann on his award-winning Chanel No. 5 commercial, creates a sumptuous, painterly look, complemented by impeccable costume and production design from Luhrmann's Oscar-winning wife, Catherine Martin.




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Postby Big Magilla » Mon Nov 10, 2008 12:11 pm

Damn computer. I had added a comment about purposely not linking to Wells' site for exactly the reason Tee gives.

Apparently the film has problems with its length though the performances are said to be good with Hugh Jackman coming off best.

I haven't liked a Luhrmann film since Strictly Ballroom so I had no expectations that this would be anywhere near a great film. For some reason it reminds me of Untamed, the somewhat forgotten 1955 film in which Susan Hayward emigrates to South Africa from Ireland after the potato famine and has a years long tempestuous relationship with Tyrone Power.
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Postby Mister Tee » Mon Nov 10, 2008 10:41 am

If you care about the movie, I recommend NOT going to Wells' site, as he, without spoiler warning, reveals the major plot point involved on his front page. His readers are, justifiably, gutting him for it.

I'm not much a Luhrmann fan and the trailer looked surprisingly generic to me, so I don't care that much. But if it had been a movie I was truly awaiting, I'd be furious.

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Postby Zahveed » Mon Nov 10, 2008 10:10 am

Was it the ending that made it disastrous or is the film just a bomb all together? I saw the trailer the other day, and while it's beautiful to look at, there doesn't seem to be enough substance.
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