JAILBAIT

Written by admin on . Posted in Arts & Film, Film.


Baz Luhrmann’s Australia isn’t a history of the penal colony turned commonwealth, but Luhrmann’s absurd, cliché-ridden filmmaking ought to be a jailable offense. In this three-hour chick-flick melodrama, Nicole Kidman (as Lady Sarah Ashley) goes down under where her philandering landowner husband was killed; she takes over the Faraway Downs ranch and hires the Drover (Hugh Jackman) to drive her cattle to market and protect a flock of mixed-race aborigine children from Australian’s racist segregation—while also fending off the Japanese during WWII. No filmmaker’s career should survive the idiotic Moulin Rouge, but Luhrmann caters to a TV-bred generation so culturally ignorant it mistakes commercials and music videos for cinema and nonsense for history. Luhrmann’s prologue describes the continent as a place “where romance and

Hugh jackman and Nicole Kidman in Australia

Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman in Australia

adventure were a way of life,” displaying his essential lack of seriousness. Who else could mix a cattle-drive Western with a love story, aborigine mysticism with racial exploitation and World War II with a musical tribute to The Wizard of Oz?

Kidman’s most vulnerable screen moment has her sing “Over the Rainbow” to the half-caste boy narrator Nullah (Brandon Walters). If this genre smashup isn’t bad enough, the extravagant CGI effects (glowing fish, thunderous cattle, gorgeous horses and vast landscapes) makes every sequence ridiculously fabulous.

Ten minutes into Luhrmann’s hot mess, I realized: OMG! He has a style—overblown, parodistic, preposterous, sentimental, absurd. But not camp. Luhrmann lacks the intelligence to poke fun at his own sentimentality; he expects audiences to confuse his clichés with old-fashioned Hollywood filmmaking—only his “craft” lacks spatial logic and credible drama. Despite pandering to politically correct racial awareness (yet keeping the aborigines on the periphery while the glamorous white lovers have all the fun), Australia doesn’t match Gone With the Wind as a romantic national epic; it’s a pinhead’s epic.

Australia
Directed by Baz Luhrmann, Running Time: 155 min.

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