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Tuesday, January 20, 2009
THE EPIC: Baz Lurhman's AUSTRALIA! Suspend your disbelief for me a little, wontcha?
Now you're probably going to say the same thing my mom did, "is that a chic-flick?". YES! Yes, it is. If only for the fact that it was marketed like a man-candy movie in the trailers, spots and interviews starring a wet, half-naked Hugh Jackman. If he wasn't so hot and the scene wasn't so much fun, I might actually feel bad for the way he was objectified as Australian-cowboy man-candy.
But alas, I am human.
Unfortunately, most of the movie's buzz was about Jackman being named People's Sexiest Man Alive for 2008. Not that I blame them, of course, he is one of the best parts of the movie but brace yourself ladies, there's even more. This was my favourite movie of the Winter holidays. I had extremely high expectations and this movie delivered, unlike quite a few others that looked promising. Christmas is usually my favourite movie time because it's when all the production companies release their best stuff for the Oscar season. But sadly, a lot of critics do not agree with me and my intense love of AUSTRALIA.
This is my favourite kind of movie...the epic! And I believe in my heart of hearts that most epics are chic-flicks. Take movies like Titanic, Gone With the Wind, Out of Africa, Pearl Harbour and The English Patient. They market them as movies for all ages, genders and tastes but what you really remember about them are their heartbreaking love stories. Ebert calls the genre "sweeping romantic melodrama" in his review, which slightly disappointed me but is worth reading. He couldn't suspend his disbelief in the more fantastical elements of the story involving the aboriginees, Nullah (Brandon Walters), whose song has a strong power, taught to him by his grandfather, King George (David Gulpilil). Yahoo! Movies averages the critics and user reviews, and of course, the user reviews are a whole grade higher than the critics'. The worst review complains of it's lack of content over extreme spectacle, to which I say...what exactly do you think you're watching ? The movie is called AUSTRALIA, involves stampedes, child-beating villains, kisses in the rain and Judy Garland's "Over the Rainbow"?? And I thought my expectations were high. Most of the other criticism centered around the extreme ambition that doesn't deliver, but I say NAY! Yes, it's ambitious and extends over the 2 1/2 hour mark, but it's over 2 1/2 hours of action, romance, and an absolutely thrilling landscape. Plus, they all have Australian accents, how could it possibly go wrong?
The story is not actually about Australia generally, but about the different kinds of people who inhabit it, surrounded by its overwhelmingly vast landscape and a significant event around the time of Pearl Harbour. It explores the lives of the aboriginees, through the story of Nullah, a half-white and half-aboriginal boy who must find his identity in a world where he doesn't seem to belong. The other half of the story centers upon the differences between the white Australian settlers, in the Drover's (Hugh Jackman) situation, and the European newcomers, in the journey of English aristocrat, Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman). It's all a big sweeping allegory about tolerance and human connection beyond race, age and culture, but it doesn't beat you over the head with it. I like to think the only reason I noticed is because I'm an English major.
I'm not saying the movie is perfect or that it couldn't have been edited for a smoother, more effortless effect in the end product but the fact that movies like this are still being made by someone is enough for me. An attempt at an old-fashioned night at the cinema is a lot more exciting and praise-worthy than more mind-numbing action flicks with bad actors just trying to get their leading ladies naked, pointless teen-horror films just trying to get any girl naked and please stop me before I offend someone. This movie has a really big heart that swells, makes you swoon, and even breaks a few times. The emotion runs really deep and hits you where it hurts (watch out for a few heart-stopping moments in the end), and that's not so common anymore in film. My point is take it for what it is and appreciate something a little different for once. I say Bravo Baz! You give me hope for movies to come. And if you believe any of the critics, it seems they can only get better!
Favourite quotes: "I'm as capable as any man!"- Lady Ashley, "I sing you to me." - Nullah, "I'm in charge." - The Drover
Favourite man-candy moment: Poor objectified Hugh Jackman. I'm sure you've seen it. But also look out for another fan fave, Clark Gable done Australian.
Favourite independent woman moment: Lady Sarah Ashley beats a man with a horsewhip when he goes after a child. I think I literally said "Booyah!" in my seat.
Favourite Landscape shot: A 180 degree pan of a stampede of horses right outside Lady Ashley's ranch, Faraway Downs.
Best performance: Newcomer Brandon Walters is absolute magic and ease, but who I really loved was David Wenham's villain, Neil Fletcher. His last scene is something to keep an eye out for!
Chemistry level: 3.5/5 Sometimes I just don't believe Kidman. She has the most bizarre kissing technique that makes her look like she's trying to run from her leading man. I get that you're married with a baby, but come on now! Thankfully, Jackman makes up for it in his chemistry with everyone woman in the audience.
Hotness level: Well..uhmm...I guess....No, there are no words or numbers that can describe Hugh Jackman's absolute perfection of a man when he is the Drover. He may be the hottest guy in any movie, ever! If that's not incentive to see it, than nothing will be.
Annoying setbacks: Kidman's hair. She has incredible red hair that is dyed the worst blonde that just makes her look old. Don't get me wrong, she's gorgeous, but bring back the Moulin Rouge hair!