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Baz Luhrmann's Australia with Nicole Kidman & Hugh Jackman

From:     Vestin Pance
Category: Art
Date:     19 December 2008
Time:     12:37 PM


I've been in reluctant admiration of the fiesty Germaine Greer on two occasions, the first time was
giving professional naughty boy Jeremy Clarkson a public spanking for letting his wet dreams spill
over his anti pee sea campaign regarding contemporary Australia.
The second, though difficult to guage in severity is Germaine's objection to one of Australia's own;
Baz Luhrmann's recent movie Australia. The problem cited by oh so easily offended Sydney Morning
Heralds Paola Totaro, is the tidal nature of the alcholic beverage, a source of transient surrealism
to western white colonists, a lethal killer among the communities of Abororiginal native people of
Australia, that might seem petty to onlookers but that's why culture cannot be successfully
validated by anyone but to whom it belongs.

 Alchohol did wipe out a lot of Aboriginal culture - to them, its serious.
Don't get me wrong, Jeremy Clarkson is highly entertaining and bright, oh yes, funny too...Baz
Luhrmann's film's always seemed to be a bit of a trick, like those super sharp sales pitches,
everything is bright and cut up rough and pasted on a storyboard and theres wham, a big bright thing
followed by a warm soft brown texture, bright red sunsets hot sand stretching for miles, The Land,
The Myth, the wine...ouch, Australia is a huge continent and it seems to me that Luhrmann has
accepted the Kings Shilling from the federal government to make the Big Movie in the Big Country,
I've got a problem with that because no-one lets you have that twenty five percent production cost
loan for sweet nothings, they want a travelogue, does'nt matter how good Luhrmann reckons he is at
putting the squeeze on the faceless beauracrats in Canberra.
That "whipsmart can do" sensibility was very convincing first time round with Romeo and Juliet but
its getting a bit tired now and the self regarding pleasure this film has about its onanistic
preening invokes a harkening back to the genre of the Western, in itself a usable format but rather
too often characterized by shallow attitudes that created a nonsensical naturalism, like mainstream
Hollywood in the fifties.
Oddly Luhrmanns trade mark cut up, collagist image dynamo is not openly traded upon here and because
the film relies heavily on the dominant culture of white Australia it will for many, fulfill the
utopian ideal of Gods Own Country in a way that verifies the hardships endured by their pioneering
forefathers but for others it will seem a slick pastiche of the romantic big film, its just that
since Rabbit Proof Fence and many other outstandingly good Australian films we simply cannot be
de-educated, lord knows they've tried hard enough.

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