I was over at the abode of Seymour a.k.a. The Genius, enlisting his considerable services to collate some media that I needed done for my work, and he asked if I wanted to watch a film maybe if I had some free time, selecting anything from the advance copies of motion pictures he had obtained through his considerable skills.
“What do you have?” I asked.
“Well... I have Australia,” he replied.
Wait. Baz Luhrman’s $150 million dollar would-be blockbuster? I was intrigued. I had always been intrigued since I caught wind of the fact that Luhrman was making a film with the title “Australia”, which always struck me as quite amusing and pretentious and silly. “How long is it?” I asked.
“It’s about two hours and thirty minutes.”
“Shit,” I said. “Alright, I’m in.”
Now time has passed since both the Australian Film Industry and the Australian Tourism Industry pushed Australia out into the world, proud parents to a Gone With The Wind epic we could call our bloody well own, mate. I still remember the sycophantic interview Charles Woolley did with Hugh Jackman for 60 Minutes (the Australian version for overseas readers) that was basically an extended advertisement for a film that was basically an extended advertisement for overseas audiences to visit the Land of Oz. And despite the efforts of a demi-god like Oprah urging western audiences to “see this movie”, Australia did not reach its massive expectations either critically or commercially. Now other critically commentators have spent great energy, thought and wit deconstructing the reasons for why this movie was something of a misfire (I direct you to Patrick Pittman’s review here). For the purposes of Bullshit Movies, I’m basically going to keep it to a transcript of comments Seymour and I made during the epic undertaking that was watching Australia.
Comments Made During AUSTRALIA... starring S-Dog and T-Bird:
(1) There is Brandon Walters’s opening narration, which imparts to us how what he is going to tell us is “most important story... tell um story” while images of traditional indigenous Aboriginals are seen against the desert landscape.
S-Dog: “Aboriginal Boutique. That’s what they call it, isn’t it?”
(2) Hugh Jackman is introduced onscreen beating up people in a bar like Indiana Jones and we hear his character’s name, The Drover.
T-Bird: “The Drover? They should have called him The Mythos.”
(3) There is a protracted sequence where hoighty toighty Kidman (naturally saying things like “I say” and “poppycock”) is rushing to the bar to meet The Drover and The Drover is punching up rednecks who insulted him by telling his Aboriginal friend he couldn’t be served a bloody pint, mate, the political points possibly made are engorged by Luhrman’s frantic cutting and over-the-top comic shenanigans.
S-Dog: “Hyperbolic... is the noun of hyperbole, yes?”
(4) There is another sequence where upper crust Aussie gentry discuss who is who and what is going with regards to Kidman’s character and the land feud she has stumbled into.
T-Bird: “This is basically the start of a TV series. Exposition city!”
(5) David Wenham pops up as the villain of the piece – an officer-quasi-ranch-hand who grows an evil moustache over the course of two hours plus – using an accent similar to that he used playing the ex-crim white trash dropkick in Rowan Wood’s excellent Australian film, The Boys (1997).
S-Dog: [impression of Wenam from The Boys] “Four stars, Keithy. You’re a fucking genius.”
T-Bird: “Now that film should have been called Australia.”
(6) Bryan Bloody Brown sits on a porch with a longneck of beer while Ben Mendelsohn plays a military officer with a Goodbye to Dear Old Blighty accent.
S-Dog: “What the fuck are they wearing cowboy hats for? This is an American western!”
(7) S-Dog: “You see this movie was made for the Government. Something you can take the Arts minister and his wife along to. "Ooh, isn't this pretty!"”
(8) The scene where The Drover has set up camp for the night and Kidman is in a dressing gown shocked at his shirtless, masculine cheesecake poses.
S-Dog: “This is the Volleyball scene from Top Gun. [impersonating Jackman] ‘I gotta put my baby oil on’”
(9) At one point David Wenham looks out to the great brown landscape and says to Kidman’s character, “This land has a strange power...”
T-Bird: “I expect him to turn to the audience and say, “So come on down and visit us in sunny Darwin. Where the bloody hell are you, eh?”
(10) On the scene where Brandon Walters sneaks into Kidman’s room and jumps around excitably telling stories like Puck in A Midsomer's Night Dream.
S-Dog: “He’s not an elf!”
(11) Jack Thompson pops up as a drunk bookkeeper for Kidman’s ranch, slurring his words like a great leg of thespian ham
T-Bird: “Was John Hurt busy?”
(12) The Drover to Kidman: “Is there any man in the world who doesn’t fancy you?”
S-Dog: “Tom Cruise.”
(13) On a scenic view of the Territory...
S-Dog: “Looks like a goddamned postage stamp.”
(14) Luhrman’s references of The Wizard of Oz with Kidman singing ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’
S-Dog: “This movie hasn’t got any balls.”
(15) There is a scene where Nullah halts a stampede of CGI cattle from falling off a cliff with his mystical Aboriginal powers.
S-Dog: “Who is he, Criss Angel all of a sudden?”
(16) S-Dog: “It’s not un-entertaining...”
T-Bird: “Yeah, it’s okay.”
S-Dog: “ It’s our civic duty to watch this movie!”
(17) A Scene where Jackman and Kidman smoulder as lightening strikes in the distance.
S-Dog: “We watch the lightning /out on the cane fields...”
(18) As the movie comes close to its second hour with Kidman and Jackman living together in the ranch with lots of greenery around them, S-Dog asks, “It could end here... Would that kill him [Luhrman] to do that?” Also with the movie moving quickly forward from 1939 to 1941 so it can have the bombing of Darwin as its climax, Kidman and Jackman’s character have lived together during that time yet she still calls him “Drover”. T-Bird: “You’d think she would have learned his first name by now?”
(19) When WWII is declared and the half-caste and aboriginal children are forcibly taken away with Kidman and Nulla having a teary farewell while moustache-twirling Wenham looks on, S-Dog says, “This scene could be so much better... It’s important, what the scene is about. It could resonate more.”
T-Bird: “He’s just too busy. Trying to make every movie in the one movie.”
(20) After the bombing of Darwin, the pub where Kidman’s character was stationed in has blown up with an anguished Jackman and his fellas trying to race in there and put the fires out.
S-Dog: [Jackman impression] “Ah, streuth, not the bloody pub! It’s war now!”
(21) It’s very nearly the end...
T-Bird: “Oh wait, don’t tell me there’s an epilogue?”
S-Dog: “They already did the epilogue in the middle of the movie!”