Monday, December 15, 2008

DJG / Australia

Australia * * * *
Directed by: Baz Luhrmann / 2008

A is for AUSTRALIA. B is for BIG. C is for CLASSIC. D is for DELIGHTFUL. E is for other letters and words, "AUSTRALIA" is a treat and tribute to cinema of old and exactly the film that writer/director Baz Luhrmann set out to make and only a visionary like him could make it. It feels personalized yet fully equipped with his love for the airbrushed titans he grew up on. Critics and film-goers turning their noses at it can simply stop seeing movies because apparently they must not like them. I think it’s a movie for anybody who likes movies and a movie for any age. Calling "Australia" BIG is actually an understatement as it runs nearly three hours with scene after sweeping scene of intoxicatingly gorgeous Australian outback, World War II history and romantic drama. The movie is as BIG as the continent to which it’s named. Every single painstaking detail and placement is there for a reason, making it worth every minute and worth the near decade since Luhrmann’s last movie, “Moulin Rouge!”. I call “Australia” a Lady-Western-War-Epic, and I mean that in the best way. But, there is so much more under the showy surface, computer-generated images and over-the-big-top entertainment. There is not only a classical throw-back stamp, nor a uniquely personalized Luhrmann stamp to this picture, but this is a movie for Australia and for her people affected by years of government-ran racism (to which the people finally were issued an official apology this year…uh, too little too late). And beyond the so-called Sexy man and woman on-screen duo of Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman (who are great, by the way), is a little boy (Brandon Walters) stealing the screen. This is his movie and as he walks into the end credits of the Australian outback you can’t help but think you might never see him again. But, you see in his eyes, enthusiasm and spirit a young Baz Luhrmann playing in his neck of the film sandbox and saying, “Ha, I made the movie that I wanted to make!”, and you can’t wait for him to make another.


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