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Author Topic: Australia (2008)  (Read 19195 times)
The Firecracker
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« Reply #30 on: November 25, 2008, 11:00:55 PM »

I actually feel compelled to watch this.

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« Reply #31 on: November 26, 2008, 01:28:26 AM »

I actually feel compelled to watch this.


I have a feeling it will be either really good or really bad. Hopefully in twelve hours I'll be able to answer that question.

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« Reply #32 on: November 26, 2008, 01:45:50 AM »

I have a feeling it will be either really good or really bad.

I feel the same way.
Even from the early trailers it seemed like a movie with an identity crises.
It just doesn't know what it wants to be...

a western, a war film, a story book fantasy...
What is it?


Usually films like these are either very good or just appalling.

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« Reply #33 on: November 26, 2008, 08:17:28 AM »

I feel the same way.
Even from the early trailers it seemed like a movie with an identity crises.
It just doesn't know what it wants to be...

a western, a war film, a story book fantasy...
What is it?


Usually films like these are either very good or just appalling.

I've been hearing it sold as a romantic epic (especially in the trailers), but the previews I've been seeing lately don't even hint at that. I'm not too put off by critical reviews, as spectacle/epic movies tend to divide critics.

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« Reply #34 on: November 26, 2008, 01:44:26 PM »

I feel the same way.
Even from the early trailers it seemed like a movie with an identity crises.
It just doesn't know what it wants to be...

a western, a war film, a story book fantasy...
What is it?


Usually films like these are either very good or just appalling.

Well, a film like GONE WITH THE WIND kind of had an identity crisis as well and this film homages that greatly. So we'll see. The film looks great to me. I just hope it lives up to my expectations.

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« Reply #35 on: November 26, 2008, 03:24:48 PM »

Just got back (thank YOU Pittsburgh Port Authority Tongue). Some very brief comments.

Holy shit.

This is, and I say this without hyperbole, my favorite of the decade. This is a movie on a par with Lean's romantic epics, and The English Patient, and other great films of that ilk, so if you like your Doctor Zhivago and English Patients, go see it right the fuck now.

The movie is a mite schizophrenic - the first half is basically a Western (Jackman even gets an awesome Eastwood-esque intro scene) and the second half is a more conventional genre epic - but it makes the transition between the two storylines brilliantly. The action scenes are very well-done, particularly the awe-inspiring stampede and the bombing of Darwin. Yes, they use CGI, and it's hard not to notice, but it's integrated seemlessly into the film so you won't really care. Luhrman has a few gratuitous style flourishes but for the most part keeps his usual excesses in check. The cinematography throughout is gob-smacking, the music is realy affective - it's got pretty much everything you want in a film and more. If you want to complain about color pallette and cinematography in modern films, go see this pronto - they show how to utilize modern tools like digital film and CGI right.

Hugh Jackman is an awesome, kickass hero. Nicole Kidman starts out as a silly, clueless refugee from a Merchant-Ivory film but she grows into a much more interesting and likeable character as the film goes along. Very good supporting cast includes Jack Thompson, Bryan Brown, Ben Mendelson and David Wenham.

There were a few minor flaws - the mystical aborigine thing was overdone and the first 20 minutes or so were just silly - but nothing that can't be overlooked for the whole. It's VERY old-fashioned and doubtless cliche, but in a good way. I hate to use such a vapid and trite cliche, but they REALLY don't make them like this anymore. 9++/10

« Last Edit: November 26, 2008, 03:40:52 PM by Groggy » Logged


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« Reply #36 on: November 27, 2008, 01:08:26 AM »

I hate to use such a vapid and trite cliche, but they REALLY don't make them like this anymore.
Evidently they just did. Now I'm pretty interested.

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« Reply #37 on: November 27, 2008, 04:51:31 AM »

Great news, Groggy ! Afro

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« Reply #38 on: November 27, 2008, 08:06:46 AM »

Evidently they just did. Now I'm pretty interested.

Yeah, and it really looks and feels like an old-school epic film, unlike most of the other epics that have come out in the last few years. That's the best part IMO. Afro

I just read Roger Ebert's review, and while he liked the film he got one major plot point wrong. mild spoiler The Aborigine kid's grandfather is not anywhere in the film claimed to be dead, and in fact interacts with other characters on multiple occasions. Ebert seems to think otherwise, but I'm curious how a dead guy (even a ghost) gets thrown in jail or kills someone with a spear. Maybe he's just getting senile. I agree with his position that the mystical Aobrigine stuff was a bit overwrought, but if you're gonna criticize it get the facts straight.

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« Reply #39 on: November 27, 2008, 08:35:33 AM »

Found this interview/article where Luhrman talks about his influences for the film - the Red River and Lean ones are obvious, but an interesting read nonetheless.

http://chud.com/articles/articles/17147/1/INTERVIEW-BAZ-LUHRMANN039S-EPICS/Page1.html

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« Reply #40 on: November 27, 2008, 01:09:12 PM »


Great review Groggy! Now, I'm even more excited to see this than I was before. I actually didn't get the chance to see it yesterday because I was busy. And today is Thanksgiving so I'm not sure if I'll be able to see it today either. Eitehr way, I will see it as soon as I can and post my thoughts.

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« Reply #41 on: November 27, 2008, 01:18:46 PM »

Baz Luhrmann lol.

I'm sorry but this looks terrible.

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« Reply #42 on: November 27, 2008, 03:37:47 PM »

Baz Luhrmann lol.

I'm sorry but this looks terrible.

If that's your only objection... Roll Eyes

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« Reply #43 on: November 27, 2008, 04:00:21 PM »

Here's my full-length blog review. I'll refrain from posting anything more for now.

Quote
It's very rare that a newly-released movie has much effect on me. For the most part, despite my best efforts to the contrary, I have a decidedly cynical view about the current state of cinema; I'm willing to watch it, but I find very little to be truly memorable. I might have a fun time with something like Pirates of the Caribbean or Charlie Wilson's War, but only on extremely rare occasions do I encounter a film that has any bearing beyond the two hours I spend in my seat. Where's our Stanley Kubrick, our David Lean, our Alfred Hitchcock? Stuff like The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford - examples of old-fashioned film-making, avoiding for the most parts the quick-cutting, overlit and washed-out, obviously fake wowzer special effects for the sake of style and story telling - are exceedingly rare, and when one comes along, it's like a puddle of water in Death Valley. Even many of the most acclaimed movies of recent years seemed curiously empty and lacking compared to the work of the masters.

Then comes a movie like Australia. Which is the kind of movie that comes along maybe once in a decade. When they say they don't make them like they used to - usually us crotchety grandpa types - this is the kind of movie they tend to be referring to. You don't see movies like this any more, because. But with Australia, Baz Luhrman has given us an invaluable cinematic gift.

I found it amusing to perview the extraordinarily mixed critical reviews of the movie; many people love it, others despise it, seemingly for the same reason. Indeed, whoever wrote up the IMDB review summary shrewdly notes that critics have been "twist(ing) similar words around" to describe the movie, to alternately praise and damn it. What this points to says more about: you either like this kind of movie or you don't. As audiences didn't give a *beep* when Pauline Kael lambasted Doctor Zhivago and Richard Corliss (and a million lifeless Internet geeks and bitter teenaged boys) roasted Titanic, so will those susceptible to this kind of film making disregard the utterances of some overpaid navel-gazing snobs (but look who's talking).

The film's plot takes place in World War II-era Belize - no, wait, Australia. Japan is threatening to enter the war and bring it home to Aussies, while Australia soldiers are shipping off to Europe and Africa to die for England. Much of Australia is uncharted, wild territory, ruled by crooked politicians and cattle barons like King Carney (Bryan Brown). And of course, it's home to an oppressive caste system, where aborigines are treated as subhuman outsiders and half-breeds - "creamies" - are even worse. Nullah (Brandon Walters) is one such boy; the son of an aboriginal woman and Fletcher (David Wenham) a vicious, ruthlessly ambitious cattle herder, he witnesses the murder of Carney's chief rival and tries to flee from arrest. The wife of said cattle baron, Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman), arrives in Australia to negotiate the sale of her cattle, only. With the help of a handsome, tough-guy cattle drover (Hugh Jackman), Nullah and the usual assorted sidekicks, she struggles to drive her herd to Darwin, finding Fletcher trying to stop her every step of the way. Afterwards, Drover and Sarah marry but find themselves seemingly incompatible, while Fletcher claws his way to the top and is in a position to topple Sarah's empire. However, World War II interferes, leading to a denouement in the streets of a bombed-out Darwin.

Australia is a sweeping epic; as one of the world's biggest Leaniacs, it's of immense complements for me to say that it bears actual comparison to the works of that master. Not since The English Patient has a movie captured such a wonderful sense of timelessness, a feeling of romance swept up by the tides of history. Some might call it cliches, but I'd opt for the term old-fashioned; it feels like Gone With the Wind or Doctor Zhivago. And it comes pretty close to looking like them too.

The movie seems a bit schizophrenic at first - the first half's cattle drive and civilized girl out "West" (or East, in this instance) story definitely seems like a Western (Drover even gets a tough guy, Clint Eastwood-ian intro scene), while the second half, with its romance and personal conflicts with a historical turmoil, is a much more conventional genre picture. But in my view, this is all for the better. It follows the two-act structure of many an epic film of old, and though different at first glance, the two halves complement each other perfectly.

The early scenes are a bit jarring; Nulla's narration is a mite annoying at first, the animated title display seems out of place, and some of Sarah's early scenes are a bit too parodic and overwrought. The angle of the "mystical aborigine" - personified by Nulla's grandfather, the omni-present King George (David Gulpilil) - is a mite overdone as well, although it's satisfactorily dealt with in the conclusion. Still, most of this awkardness is sorted out by the third reel or so.

Technically, the film is a marvel; if nothing else, it's one of the most beautiful, ravishing movies of the last ten years. Luhrman, a director not usually known for subtlety, manages to keep his usual excess in check (with only a few excusable moments of unnecessary flair and wow moments) and delivers us a handsomely mounted, beautiful film. The Outback scenery is ravishing, Mandy Walker's cinematography brilliantly capturing the stark beauty of Australia, both forbidding and gorgeous at the same time. CGI is used quite often, but would you expect otherwise? In the movie's big set-pieces - the Japanese bombing, and more notably the breath-taking cattle stampede - they're gob-smackingly brilliant. If you need convincing that these modern cinematic tools can be put to good use, then look no further.

The cast is flawless. Hugh Jackman gives an excellent performance as Drover, tough, believable, with a romantic side that seems perfectly natural. It's a shame he's not a bigger star, because he's just perfectly for this type of role. Nicole Kidman isn't far behind Jackman here, her frosty beauty perfectly suited for her character. At first her character is rather grating, seeming like an implausibly ditzy and posh refugee from a Merchant-Ivory film, but as her character develops she becomes more and more likeable, and her annoying and awkward early scenes serve to help character development. The two make a dynamite couple, attractive and believable, their conflicts and differences seeming real rather than a plot device.

While Geoffrey Rush and Cate Blanchett are inexplicably absent, the cast is populated with a plethora of brilliant Aussie actors. Old pros like Breaker Morant vets Jack Thompson and Bryan Brown have solid supporting roles; David Wenham handles his gleefully evil rotter with aplomb, and Ben Mendelsohn gives a strong background performance as a dignified Army Captain. Brandon Walters gives an excellent performance as Nulla, occasionally irritating but always convincing as the boy who is really the focus of the story.

I will concede that Australia isn't for everyone; the current generation of movie-goers may or may not appreciate it (I won't issue a blanket condemnation for the moment), and the usual cranky critics who abhor this sort of film. Let them write what they will, sneer as they like. Those of us who love these movies and can appreciate their beauty and craft will be more than satisfied. During the credits, I found myself on the verge of tears, utterly enthralled, unable to leave until the last frame had spooled off the screen. Now that is a cinematic experience. All that's left to say is: Thank you, Baz Luhrman. And readers: go see this movie right this second.

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« Reply #44 on: November 27, 2008, 04:59:47 PM »

If that's your only objection... Roll Eyes

It looks like your standard overblown, pretentious hollywood epic. I hate these movies. nicole kidman is a crummy actress and I'm not a big jackman fan either. and, of course, the baz factor.

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