RYAN: One of my most anticipated movies of the year, “Australia,” which re-teams Nicole Kidman with director Baz Luhrmann, is quite a masterpiece.
CAROLINE: I’m not sure that’s the word I would use.
RYAN: Didn’t you think it was an epic, gorgeous, sweeping tale?
CAROLINE: Sure, but masterpiece implies that it’s his best movie ever and he’ll never be able to top it. But I sure hope he does.
RYAN: I did like “Moulin Rouge!” better.
RYAN: Maybe this one takes second place.
CAROLINE: This movie did not emotionally engage me at all for some reason. I think the first problem was the narration by the little Aboriginal boy. He talked like Jar Jar Binks.
RYAN: That’s rude. He definitely had a dialect, and I totally understood him and did not find him Jar Jar Binksian. As a matter of fact, he stole the show.
CAROLINE: I liked him when he was acting, but the minute his voice over came on, I was out. I’m sure his accent is true to the way some people speak in Australia, but I really didn’t want him to be the person guiding me through this film.
RYAN: I hear you on the emotionally engaged aspect. I definitely got involved in the story, but never truly became attached to it. Something in the film didn’t connect. We both should have been rapt.
CAROLINE: I know! I’m such a big sap; I should have been bawling in this movie. There are happy reunions, lost loved ones, etc., and usually that makes me get misty. But I couldn’t get it up for this one. Of course, I liked the love story between Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. He’s beyond gorgeous.
RYAN: This movie is a cross between “Gone With the Wind” and “Apocalypto,” don’t you think?
CAROLINE: I didn’t see “Apocalypto.” The freaky people in the trailer scared me.
RYAN: I know, but the images were similar, with the tribal people and all that. This is an incredibly gorgeous film, which isn’t a surprise; Baz Luhrmann is a visual genius.
CAROLINE: There are several sweeping landscape and war scenes, but it gets to be too much after a while. There are lots of close-ups of Hugh in his perfect Banana Republic-when-it-used-to-be-a-safari-store outfits. He was perfectly clad and coiffed at all times, as was Nicole; unless they’d just driven a herd of cattle. I personally don’t like historical epics, so that could be part of the reason I didn’t love this movie.
RYAN: Baz Luhrmann co-wrote the script and he really threw me a bone, which makes me incredibly biased in critiquing this movie. My all-time favorite movie, “The Wizard of Oz,” is featured prominently throughout the film, both thematically and with actual clips from the film. He even wove “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” into the score.
CAROLINE: It was like an early Christmas gift from Baz to Ryan with love. I liked that element too. But we must talk about Nicole Kidman’s face, which is again Botoxed into oblivion. She attempted to raise her eyebrows in one scene to no avail; I saw a tiny crinkle, but that’s all she could muster. It looked hard for her to smile too, maybe because she seems to have has lots of collagen in her lips and fillers in her face. It’s aging her terribly. She’s painfully thin too. I thought she looked better when she was all dirty from cattle driving than she did all made up and immaculately dressed.
RYAN: I loved her in this role, though I don’t think she’ll be getting an Oscar nomination. The best actors in the movie were Hugh, who is the very definition of sexy, and the Aboriginal kid, Brandon Walters. I also want to draw some comparisons from this movie to “Moulin Rouge!” The Neil Fletcher character was very much like the duke. Basically, this movie tips its hat to “Gone With the Wind,” “The Wizard of Oz” and “Moulin Rouge!”
CAROLINE: There’s an element of “City Slickers” in there too. It takes place during WWII, and the war and history stuff started to bore me after a while. Plus I was just a little detached from the story. I think Baz focused more on making the movie visually stunning than he did on making a compelling narrative. I mean, the audience even laughed at a couple scenes that weren’t meant to be funny.
RYAN: For story and emotional impact, I’d give it a 7; but for just attempting a movie on this scale, I have to give Baz a 10. I haven’t seen a movie like this in a long time. It melds western, romance, war, comedy and musical all into one.
CAROLINE: I found it a touch confusing in the beginning. Nicole comes to Australia to sort out her property and you kind of don’t know who any of the characters are. There are a couple laugh-out-loud funny moments early on too, which was fun and unexpected. But LBH, the movie is way too long at almost two and a half hours.
RYAN: Totally. There was some stuff in the middle they could have cut out, but every shot was like a dynamic piece of art.
CAROLINE: I don’t think this is as big a score for Baz Luhrmann as “Moulin Rouge!” was. I just didn’t enjoy this movie that much. I certainly appreciated it and its beauty, as well as the astounding beauty of one Hugh Jackman, whose body is Adonis-like. But the movie was just a little long and boring for me.
RYAN: Baz Luhrmann’s direction rivals that of my favorite director, Robert Zemeckis. I loved the costumes and the score. Even though this isn’t a musical, his directing style is very musical. I will be going back to see this again in the theater just because it’s a great story that’s so gorgeous. I need to be there again.