Tag Archives: Baz Luhrman’s Australia

I Get Asked What I Think Sometimes…

12.8 million For Hugh, Nothing For You

The news this week for film industry types is that Hugh Jackman is going to bring his next Wolverine production back to Sydney. Because the degree of my jadedness – my ad-jade-ment if you will – is at such proportions, I thought I’d just not comment on it until Pleiades brought this little thing to my attention:

You’d have thought that riches to rags story had taught Australian politicians that dumb subsidies don’t work and may have actually damaged the local film industry more than it helped.

Unfortunately not.

Last week the Australian federal government announced $13 million in support for production of Wolverine. The prime minister’s office gushed:

“To attract The Wolverine to Australia, the Gillard government granted the producers a one-off payment of $12.8 million which will result in over $80 million of investment in Australia and create more than 2000 jobs.

“The payment effectively provided The Wolverine a one-off investment package equivalent to an increase in the existing location offset to 30 per cent.

“Without this effective tax offset incentive, the producers of The Wolverine would not have chosen Australia as the location.”

“That’s just the nature of this government,” thundered Pleiades. “It’s all about bribing people. It’s corruption and bribery that’s marked this government.”

I’m inclined to believe it’s true. What’s truly spectacular about this account is that 12.8million can buy you a lot of things in the film industry: development, advertising support, distribution support, publicity. Instead, Julia Gillard’s government has chosen to hand this over to a Hollywood production on the grounds that it’s going to be shot in Australia. Heck, there are any number of good film scripts out there to be made for a flat 12.8million. When you consider that the annual budget at AFTRS used to be 9million p.a. (I think it might even be less now), you think “wow, they really don’t care about the front end of the industry, they only care about the rear end.”

They could have done a lot more things with that money that actually helped.

All this is to say that it is incredibly dubious as to what merit there is in throwing this money at Hugh Jackman’s production which is already funded out of the Hollywood machine. Now, I’m not taking anything away from Hugh Jackman who is able to do so, but you have to seriously question the ALP government where they really stand with regards to the rest of the Australian film industry. It’s nice that some of the crew and special effects houses and post-production houses will get some business coming through, but when it’s done, it’s going to be the breadline for most of those people again. The ALP government can’t be buying temporary jobs like that, they should be trying to re-establish the industry as a industry instead of this public-money-consuming sheltered workshop – assuming they’re serious.

Which, they’re not. So why am I bothering with this today? Oh yes, I got asked what I thought.

More On The Sheltered Workshop Thing

Here’s a more detailed account of what they think they’re doing.

Hugh Jackman is returning to Australia to make The Wolverine, his sixth outing as the Marvel character, thanks to a $12.8 million federal government subsidy.

And while billed as a “one-off”, the local film industry has its fingers crossed that the near-doubling of the standard assistance for a big-budget foreign production is a sign of things to come in next month’s budget.

The Wolverine is set in Japan but will be shot at Fox Studios in Sydney between July and December. Hugh Jackman will star and produce. “It’s so great to bring these big movies down there, to keep people working,” Jackman told the Today program from London, where he is filming Les Miserables for Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech). “I just have to say thanks to Prime Minister Gillard, she was instrumental with this.”

Yikes. Sounds awful already. Set in Japan but shot in Sydney sounds a bit like the Last Samurai which was set in Japan but shot in NZ. Nothing wrong with that, just that it looked really weird in many parts. I’m resigned to there being an alternative universe where there is a Japan that is totally on another planet with totally weird things going on. Even so… let that slide for now.

The patent myth – and outright wishful thinking on the part of SPAA – is that this is going to lead to there being more direct input from the Federal government to lure productions to Australia so that they hire Australian crew and talent. The other patent myth is that once this Wolverine Production starts or finishes in Australia that it’s going to open the flood gates for more productions to come back through the Fox lot that is mostly sitting dormant right now, thanks to the high Aussie Dollar. When you choose to look at the funding through these two rose tinted glasses, then sure, this $12.8million seems like chump change. But as with the generous amount of government money dropped on Baz Luhrman’s ‘Australia’ , there’s nothing that strengthens the industry, nothing that gives it an ongoing mechanism for growth, nothing that allows for the Australian industry itself to grow unless you define the Australian Film Industry as a service industry for Hollywood in which case why are we doing this?

Haven’t we been here before with Baz Luhrman’s number?

The point is, it’s not even good policy to be throwing money at a Hollywood production, just so it comes here to shoot. If they don’t come of their own accord, it’s proof positive that our service part of the film industry isn’t competitive enough. We’re either going to be competitive on the world market on our own merits or not. The producers hoping the government’s going to make a habit of funding these things are uncompetitive swill, sucking on the government teat wanting more. I’m sorry but years and years of public funding has reduced our film industry to these kinds of producers getting the loudest voices.

On a personal note, I struggled greatly to convince the production for Kamui Gaiden to come here when their main objection was cost – and that was when the Australian Dollar was only 70yen. Had somebody handed even 5million on a platter, it probably would have happened here or NZ instead of Okinawa; but nobody was there to do it because it was during the time the FFC was being rolled into Screen Australia, just before the GFC hit. (And really, it was probably the natural course of things that it didn’t happen that way, which was not only my loss but arguably Australia’s film industry’s lost opportunity.) Still, that was the last straw for me.

It goes back to the problem that the people who want the industry don’t know what they’re getting; the people in the industry don’t know what market they’re operating in; and the world really doesn’t like in-between-ers, which is exactly what our film industry is.

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Scum Dog Paupers

Yes Mr. Sheridan, ‘Australia’ Sucks

…but Australian Cinema does not!

This article came to me from Pleiades.

After a brilliant rebirth in the 1970s, it has become steadily worse. Our individual performers conquer all in Hollywood and London, and even Bollywood, but Australian films are consistently and predictably bad.

Compare and contrast, as the essay topic-setter would put it, two recent films: the big-budget fiasco Australia, and the exquisite Slumdog Millionaire.

Australia cost at least $130 million, perhaps all up quite a lot more than that. It is one of the worst films I have seen for years. And it has been a commercial mediocrity and critical flop. It is not so much a failed epic as a ludicrous, camp pantomime. It features superb actors: Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman and the gifted and charming young Aboriginal star, Brandon Walters. But they cannot save it from its ridiculous plot confusion, its constant air of contrived unreality, its pretentious and worthless nods to other films and the fact that at no point does the viewer believe in or care about the characters or the situations.

It grossly defames our nation. The treatment of Aborigines is the most morally troubling aspect of our history and we are rightly exercised about it. But no Australian government ever sent Aboriginal children to a mission island near Darwin so that the Japanese would bomb them. Nor did the Japanese land on and take control of such an island in the 1942 bombing of Darwin.

Some critics have excused this by saying that Australia partakes of no reality and therefore this anachronism, along with all the others, doesn’t matter. Australia claims to be dealing with a huge historical issue, the forced removal of mixed race Aboriginal children. It can’t expect people to take it seriously if it then depicts eventsthat not only didn’t occur, but could not possibly have occurred in the universe we happen to inhabit.

The script is a dog’s breakfast. At one point the rough Aussie drover (Jackman) is driving the refined English aristocrat (Kidman) to her new home. Jackman says he’s always wanted to crossbreed a wild brumby with an English thoroughbred. Kidman thinks he’s propositioning her and reacts with shock.

This banal, pathetic attempt at a joke is important because it illustrates the script’s disdain for the audience. Kidman’s character is meant to be obsessed with horses in England, and with breeding her champions. It is inconceivable that she could have misunderstood Jackman’s remark, so the misunderstanding, which is meant to be comic, has no plausibility. In other words, the actors are not delivering the dialogue of a joke, they are delivering the dialogue of a parody of a joke. The audience is being asked to laugh not at a comic situation but at a director’s sly and knowing wink about the banality of comic situations in films. In which case, why make films at all?

Australia exhibits two of the worst characteristics of Australian filmmaking: excessive artiness, which prevents effective story telling and a didactic, dogmatic, unsubtle, hectoring tone of political preaching. It is a tragic waste of a unique opportunity in Australian filmmaking.

Aaaargh. Where do you start?

I think it’s pretty damned unfair. The point is, you would be consigning to the dustbin all kinds of films on the basis that:

  • ‘Australia’ is an Australian Film
  • ‘Australia’ sucks as a film
  • Therefore all Australian films suck.

That can’t be right any more than ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ would somehow prove the superiority of British Cinema or Bollywood or whoever was invovled with that production by 3 degrees of association.

If all Australian Cinema got judged and hung on the basis of ‘Australia’ by Baz Luhrman,we should start judging everything by the worst example. What if Wayne Carey and Ben Cousins defined all Australian sportsmanship? What if Vince Sorenti proved why comedy in Australia was crap? What if Tracy Grimshaw (just to pull a name out of a hat, nothing personal here!) proved once and for all why Australian Television journalism was completely and utterly fucked?

Besides which, ‘Australia’ was more exceptional than a typical example of an Australian film production, what with its enormous backing from 20th Century Fox with a $200million or so budget. I mean, were every Australian film blessed with such Rupert-Murdochian Largesse!

It strikes me that everybody is kicking the dog now that it s down, and maybe in some ways it does deserve the kicks. However a long term outlook of cinema would tell you that there might not be an Australian Cinema in the decades to come if current trends continue.

It’s really not a matter of talent or ideas or script or skill any more. It’s the reality of the scale of economies involved in film production, distribution and just how many paying eyeballs are out there to be targeted.

In the global market, it may not matter what we produce or how we go about doing it, given what the global audience is looking for, which goes to our general inability to supply that demand.

By the way, this bit brought me a smile:

Some folks believe Australian poets achieve much more than our novelists because the poet mediates nature directly to the reader, whereas the novelist needs a complex society to work with.

But that doesn’t explain why our films are so poor today. It may be that the culture of government grants that dominates our arts has deprived them of the drive to connect with an audience. On the other hand, maybe we’re just better at cricket. Come to think of it, the Indians are beating us there, too.

Again, the production cost and risks of poetry are much smaller than for film. The relative successes of our poets essentially comes from the freedom they have in their mode of production.

But it’s nice to see our poets are doing well in our own cultural estimation.

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At Least Being Dumb Isn’t One Of Her Problems

A couple of weeks ago it was suggested that it was the nasty reviews that hounded Nicole Kidman out of town, but it turns out it was actually seeing her own performance.

Nicole Kidman isn’t “proud” of her performance in Australia.

The 41-year-old actress has revealed she “squirmed” in her seat throughout the Sydney premiere because she was so uncomfortable watching herself on screen.

She said: “I can’t look at this movie and be proud of what I’ve done. I sat there, and I looked at Keith and went, ‘Am I any good in this movie?’ But I thought Brandon Walters and Hugh Jackman were wonderful. It’s just impossible for me to connect to it emotionally at all.”

Nicole was so nervous about her performance she fled Australia as soon as the premiere was over with husband Keith Urban and their five-month-old daughter Sunday Rose.

She told Australian radio station 2dayFM: “We ran because I didn’t want to read anything. I didn’t want to know. I saw my sister and my family and we saw Keith’s family and then we were straight on a plane.”

Nicole added she only attended the premiere to please the film’s director Baz Luhrmann.

She said: “I don’t usually see my films, but because of Baz I had to see it. I saw ‘Moulin Rouge’. I’ve really only seen that and this in my whole career. It gets worse as I get older.”

That’s it in full (sorry SMH, I can’t resist it when it’s this juicy in full). At least she knew it was crap the moment she saw it.

Let us now officially dismiss the claims that it was the tall poppy syndrome. The tall poppy syndrome, while it does exist, had nothing to do with this one. Nicole Kidman watched herself on screen and squirmed and decided to hit the road before the crits came in.

There’s an old story about how Eric Stoltz was originally cast as Marty McFly. 2 weeks into the shoot, the director and producers realised that as fine an actor as Eric Stoltz was, he didn’t have good comic timing. It just wasn’t his suite. So they canned Stoltz and brought in Michael J. Fox, and the rest of it is history as we know it.

In other words, if a cast member isn’t working out for you, especially in a big budget movie, don’t hesitate to replace them. Baz Luhrmann should’ve known from the rushes it wasn’t working, but he persisted with Kidman. Heaven only knows what he was hoping for. It sure hasn’t done his films any favors and it’s surely dented Nicole Kidman’s reputation (and bankability) quite heavily for sure.

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It Might Be Hubris

Or It Might Just Be Plain Awfulness

Pleiades sent in this article here with more feedback about Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Australia’.

So why hasn’t it happened for Australia? What’s the problem?

Here are two reasons, neither of which is necessarily Baz Luhrmann’s fault.

At one level, Australia was too commercially ambitious, too boastful. The decision to call it Australia instead of its working title, Faraway Downs, was a mistake. It yielded the inevitable result: domestic audiences rolled their eyes at the hubris, while foreigners wondered why the hell anyone would make a movie about that crazy little country in the Alps where Hitler was born.

And Australia’s marketing presentation to the public lacked any reference to the one quality deeply connected in our minds with Baz Luhrmann’s work: originality.

Luhrmann’s previous successes – Romeo and Juliet, Moulin Rouge and Strictly Ballroom -\- were all startlingly different. They surprised audiences. We’d never seen the ludicrous spangleworld on screen before Strictly Ballroom – and Moulin Rouge was nothing more than an embarrassing Paris tourist-bus cliche until Baz’s movie.

I’m not feeling easy with such easy analysis. For a start, you can’t be risk averse, and yet be so pretentious as to call your film ‘Australia’. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t so much the title as the suggested content as shown in the trailers that turned off a wide cross-section of cinema-goers. Bottom line, people just weren’t interested in the world of 1940s Drovers and English Aristocrats going to the antipodes. .

My take on it is that it also had many other negatives attached to it – some of it Luhrmann, a lot of it Kidman – that it overwhelmed any chance it had of being accepted readily by the people who still pay to go see a movie. I don’t kno if that is hubris so much as a total lack of judgment.

This Is The Aftermath Of Hubris

In this, the last days of GWB, we can finally see that even America has had enough of this lame duck, shameful fuck of a President.

The last NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll on Bush’s presidency found that 79 per cent of Americans will not miss him. He is being forgotten already, even if he’s not yet gone. You start to pity him until you remember how vast the wreckage is, stretching from the Middle East to Wall Street to Main Street and even into the heavens, which have been a safe haven for toxins under his passive stewardship.

The one indisputable ability of his White House was to create and sell propaganda both to the public and the press. Now that bag of tricks is also empty. In what was intended as a farewell victory lap to show off Iraq’s improved post-surge security, Bush was reduced to ducking shoes.

Iraq burned, New Orleans flooded, and Bush remained oblivious to each and every pratfall on his watch. Americans essentially stopped listening to him after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, but he still doesn’t grasp the finality of their defection.

Bush is equally blind to the collapse of his propaganda machinery. Almost poignantly, he keeps trying to hawk his goods in these final days. Though no one is listening, he has given more exit interviews than either Clinton or Reagan. Along with old cronies like Karl Rove, he has embarked on a Bush “legacy project”, as Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard described it on CNN.

To this end, Rove has repeated a stunt he first fed to the press two years ago: claiming that he and Bush have an annual book-reading contest, with Bush chalking up as many as 95 books a year, by authors as high-falutin’ as Camus. This hagiographic portrait of Bush the Egghead might be easier to buy were the former national security official Richard Clarke not quoted in the new Vanity Fair saying that both Condoleezza Rice and her deputy, Stephen Hadley, had instructed him early on to keep his memos short as the President is “not a big reader”.

Another, far more elaborate example of legacy spin is on the White House website: a booklet recounting “highlights” of the administration’s “accomplishments and results”. With big type, much white space and child-like trivia boxes titled “Did You Know?”, its 52 pages are the literary correlative to “Mission Accomplished”.

I often thought that the sheer awfulness of Jimmy Carter’s term brought about Ronald Reagan and ‘Reagan Republicans’. The pay off for that were the 2 Reagan terms, the 1 term of George Bush senior, and the 2 terms o GWB. It’s a pretty good continuity of power for the Republicans.

But it may just be possible that the the GWB Presidency was so awful that it might end up ushering in 5-6 terms of Democratic Presidencies starting with the in-coming Barack Obama. Let’s not beat about the err… bush (well, why not, here’s my bat)…  GWB was that bad.

It’s pretty tragic that the USA has had to endure not just 1, but 2 terms of this President. I think he must be the worst President in my lifetime. Yet, his old man, who was in some ways better, but also just as out of touch with Main Street thinks GWB’s brother Jeb might one day make a fine candidate as US President.

On “Fox News Sunday,” former President George H. W. Bush said he’s ready for another Bush in the White House. He hopes his son Jeb runs for Senate in Florida and one day for president.

“I think he’d be an outstanding senator … I’d like to see him be president some day,” Bush said. “Right now is probably a bad time because maybe we’ve had enough Bushes in there.”

Good God, spare me, and spare us all. After the fiasco that saw GWB come to power thanks to the electoral shenanigans in Florida, which happened (and most probably engineered) on Jeb Bush’s watch as governor, I think Jeb should be disqualified before he even runs. Or could the God-and-Anti-Abortion Right Wing of the Republicans so stupid that they think Jeb is a viable candidate? You can never tell with that crowd.

The other point to be made about yet another Bush Presidency is that it’s really hard to see what exactly the Bush family stand for that is such a powerful symbol of Republicanism – except being rich and spoilt and largely for the big end of town to a fault. Why would the USA need another dose of this kind of Presidency in the wake of 3 totally uninspiring Bush family terms? Who are they trying to kid?

If that’s not hubris deserving of calamity, I don’t know what is.

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Laws Of Australian Cinematics

David Dale’s View

David Dale regales us with his three laws of Cinematics:

The First Law of Cinematics: To predict the success of a big budget movie in Australia, multiply its first week’s takings by three. The nation’s favourite flick this year, The Dark Knight, made $15.9 million in its first week, and ended up with a total of $45.6 million (putting it close to the all-time chart-toppers Titanic with $58m, Shrek 2 with $50m and Return of the King with $49m). TDK sold more than 4 million tickets because it lived up to its hype, just like Kung Fu Panda, which earned $8.3 million in the first week and went on to total $26 million, or Wall-E (from $5.8m to $17.8m).
There were exceptions to the first law this year. Mamma Mia! went from $8.1m to an amazing $31.5m and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull went from $12.3m to a mere $29.5m. They are covered by …
The Second Law of Cinematics: To tell if a movie will stay hot, examine the dropoff in its second week’s takings. If it falls by more than a third, word of mouth must be bad (and the ultimate total, as with Indy, will be less than three times the first week). If it falls by less than a third, w.o.m. will propel it to glorious heights (as with Mamma Mia!). It’s ominous news for the teen vampire flick Twilight that its second weekend box office was down 54 per cent on its first weekend.
Now here’s a spooky detail: the takings of Australia fell by 33 per cent from week 1 to week 2, and by 32 per cent from week 2 to week 3.

There is thus no way to tell if it will top the $29 million earned by Baz Luhrmann’s last epic, Moulin Rouge. We might seek a clue in …

The Third Law of Cinematics: Australian films never make more than $3 million (Happy Feet and Australia don’t count because they are international movies). To put it another way, there are only 300,000 cinemagoers in this country who regard the term “Australian-made” as an incentive.
The most awarded local flick this year was The Black Balloon. It made $2.1 million. The most awarded local flick last year was Romulus My Father, which made $2.6 million. Some people theorise that Australian movies fail because they lack budgets. There may be another issue. Could it be that they fail because they lack story?

Need we say more?

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Baz Mounts Defense of ‘Australia’

Because Evidently It’s Not Speaking For Itself

Baz Luhrmann is sounding like he’s not enjoying the roasting. Here’s a Reuters article on the director’s perspective on his own film.

“A lot of reviewers like ‘Australia.’ And we’re making people cry; I know because they write to us,” he told the Hollywood Reporter during an interview at the Four Seasons Hotel. “But there are those that don’t get it. A lot of the film scientists don’t get it. And it’s not just that that they don’t get it, but they hate it and they hate me, and they think I’m the black hole of cinema. They say, ‘He shouldn’t have made it, and he should die.'”

I think the people are crying because it’s more like an onion than a proper tear-jerker. But we’ll let that pass.

Asked why he thought the reactions were so passionate, he replied: “I know what it’s about.”

The movie’s detractors, he said, were used to movies that were neatly defined.

“This is not (simply) a romantic comedy for 40-year-old women or action movies for 17-year-old boys, and that’s not OK with some people. It’s not OK for people to come eat at the same table of cinema. But you look at movies like ‘Gone With the Wind’ and Old Hollywood classics, and they don’t fit in any box.

“Corny Hollywood movies from the ’40s freak out (the film scientists),” he added.

It’s a real drag that Baz Luhrmann went out and made a very big movie without a target audience, armed with the faith that a retread of a Hollywood movie from the 1940s would transcend the need for defining a genre, all the while he post-Modernistically pilfered cues from the said 1940s film.

While I’m no film scientist, I am at least a student of my craft. When I saw shorts on the Kidman/Letterman interview, I noticed he crossed the line not once but twice in a span of 30seconds. I’m sorry but if you can’t get your basics down like that, while working with a professional crew, then should you be entrusted with a $197million budget?

It’s not that he’s made a very broad, general film with a mixed genre – those things have places in the world, but they tend to have smaller audiences  because it takes a lot more effort from the audience to understand how the genres are getting mixed. It is the fact that Luhrmann can’t tell a story without throwing his camera around and trying to invent a new angle to shoot a 2-hander scene. Dare I say it, he’s actually not properly schooled in how to direct a scene for camera.

This results in his films being nebulous, unfocused and largely confusing. He is the opposite of David Mamet’s tenets where you should simply stick to the story as tightly as you can.

Years ago when he suddenly burst on to the world with ‘Strictly Ballroom’, I was a student at AFTRS. The ‘Strictly Ballroom’ promotional tour rolled into the school cinema and got its screen to much adulation from the  teaching staff. I was struck by several things:

– How poorly directed Strictly Ballroom actually was.

– How the teachers and admin staff embraced it anyway because the story was good enough and simple enough.

– How the AFTRS staff embraced the film, even though Luhrman was from NIDA and not the AFTRS. The guy had nothing to do with AFTRS.

Now, the third thing was possibly the weirdest thing, because it relates back to the first. One of the things that film school inevitably does to you is give you a grounding in the basic needs of directing for camera. If it didn’t/doesn’t, you should burn it down and start again. Certainly, in my time, as wobbly as it was, that culture lived and breathed at AFTRS.

So here was a film that failed to meet the kind of technical standards that second year novices were meeting, getting critical acclaim. Worse still, the AFTRS educators were willing to turn a blind eye to all these faults for which they would have roasted their own students and praise the film to the sky. It was a surreal moment. Yes, I’m talking about you, John O’Hara, Paul Thompson, Helen Carmichael, Marion Ord, Brian Hannant! – Just in case you’re googling your own names.

But it got me thinking: If NIDA could produce successful film makers who didn’t know anything about the technical things the AFTRS was imparting to its own students, and the AFTRS’s job was just to produce the crew who would work on these films, What EXACTLY WAS THE POINT OF HAVING A DIRECTING DEPARTMENT? What was the point of even having AFTRS?  It seemed incredibly self-defeating for AFTRS’s teaching body to embrace the success of the film in spite of all its abundantly clear faults. The sort of faults with which it would roast its own students

Understand this: All the students knew (and understood) that it was a deeply flawed film, and yet we all shrugged and furtively caught each other’s disbelieving glances as the AFTRS teachers lauded its success. It was one of those. “WHAT THE FUCK?!!!!” moments that make you re-assess everything about what you are doing. What exactly was the point of proper film technique?

What exactly is the point of any technique to do anything? Why bother learning a single-handed backhand? Why bother learning correct finger – position for scales? Why learn how to cast and reel properly? Why learn technique in anything, when the novice world just doesn’t notice? Or was it just a case of double standards?

I don’t have an answer to this double standard. I have no answer as to how these things happen. But let’s face it, there’s Baz Luhrmann making his dirty big Hollywood Blockbuster, partly on Australian tax Payers’ money – still, clearly ignorant of the basic basics of film making. And the joke is on me (and others), because there is nobody from my year at AFTRS that has directed a Hollywood film. What, exactly, was the point of having AFTRS, if this was going to be the outcome?

Those people should have been quaking in their shoes when Baz Luhrmann emerged, instead of lauding its success; because his very career poses serious questions about Filmmaking in Australia. In my book, the one that I got from AFTRS, it’s questionable that Baz Luhrmann should have been allowed to make that film; no, he shouln’t have to die except in the box office; and I’m not being mean-spirited when I say that.

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Don’t Do A Bond Movie, Baz

Done Their Dash

Here’s something interesting. ‘Ostraya’ might have been the last hurrah, rather than the next wave.

Luhrmann admits that executives at 20th Century Fox, the Hollywood studio behind the film, were having problems marketing it to audiences because of its mix of slapstick comedy and intense drama.

“Fox are having trouble selling it,” he said.

“They’re having trouble making a trailer that can sell tickets.

“I’m scared and fearful of this. Will everyone get it? No. But I’ve been amazed by the variety of audiences who are intensely emotional in reacting to it.”

Luhrmann said while he had no definite projects in the pipeline at the moment, one day he planned to “take that James Bond film”.

“That’ll be fun,” he said.

Kidman also reiterated her desire to reduce her acting workload in favour of focusing on being mum to her baby Sunday Rose.

“I have to say I’m not that interested in making films any more,” she told the newspaper.

“I know I’m not meant to say that, but that’s where it is for me now.

“I’m 41 years old and very happy being in Tennessee with my baby and with my husband.

“I obviously have creative blood in me and it needs to come out in some way but I just don’t have that burning desire any more.

“I’m not saying I’m never going to work again, but I’m at peace with whatever happens, which is a nice place to be at this stage of my life.”

I swear it reads like Baz is blaming ALL the failure of ‘Ostraya’ on Nicole Kidman – which he probably isn’t, but how exactly are we to interpret all this?

I don’t know about Kidman’s semi-retirement. She is in a position to do whatever she likes.It’s also the case that she’s hit that age where she can’t easily be the romantic/sexual interest of the story, which means she’ll be paid less.

As for Luhrmann’s claim that he would “take that Bond movie”, you’d have to say, “Don’t”.

Let’s face it, the Bond Movie this time around spanked Baz’s movie into oblivion at the Box Office. I hardly think Luhrmann is in a position to be dismissive about Bond Movies in general. If your auteur work wasn’t good enough to take on a Bond Movie when given the marketing support of a major studio, then how good could you possibly be working for another franchise project? It’s pretty galling to think that having made a bunch of largely cruddy films, Luhrmann thinks he’s up to doing a Bond Movie.

Narnia In Ostraya

Pleiades gave me the heads-up on this as usual. The first Narnia flick was shot in NZ in the wake of the Rings trilogy. Now there’s a rumour that the third might come to Australia.

A surge of Hollywood interest in Australia as a filming location could lead to another coup: the next Chronicles Of Narnia film.

Following The Lion, The Witch And The Wardobe and Prince Caspian, filming for The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader was to begin in Mexico next month, much of it at the Baja Studios water tank that was used for Titanic and Master And Commander.

But difficult conditions, including a rise in violence associated with a drug war, are believed to have led Disney and Walden Media to hunt for a new location to shoot the reputed $US100 million ($150 million) movie.

SiT hears that film industry officials in NSW and Queensland are chasing the movie and the Sunshine State is favoured to win because of the water tank at Warner Roadshow Studios on the Gold Coast. The Dawn Treader needs studios, beaches, jungles and other locations for a five-month shoot.

Well why not? We haven’t had much Hollywood fare for the crews since the heyday of Star Wars 2&3 and the Matrix series. What really shits me in all of this is that when these things get made, these Film Offices strut about as if they’ve accomplished something truly great, when all they’ve done is set themselves up as the lowest bidder.

A Win For Barbie

Mattel has won its case against the company that poached one of its designers, who took his designs of a certain Bratz range of dolls to Mattel’s competitor. It’s all a bit weird, but here’s the link thanks to Pleiades.

The ruling sent shockwaves through toyland as the industry gears up for its busiest time of the year. In June, sales of Bratz in the US reached $3.1bn (£2.1bn) since their launch in 2001. Sales of Barbie, still America’s most popular toy, fell by 15% in 2007.

The ruling comes three months after Mattel, the makers of Barbie, won a copyright case in which it argued that the Bratz concept had been developed by one of its designers. A jury agreed that Carter Bryant had come up with the original designs while at Mattel and had taken them to MGA, which launched the Bratz line in 2001. The jury awarded Mattel $10m for copyright infringement and $90m for breach of contract.

Judge Stephen Larson’s ruling effectively places the Bratz brand under the control of Mattel.

Judging from the brief description, it’s actually interesting that it took so long! You’d think the horse had bolted a long time before and won a couple of trophies by now.

Mailbox Funnies

This one from Pleiades is pretty cute.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of 2- 6 years. It does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.

In fact, Governmentium’s mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.

This characteristic of morons promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass.

It’s a little ideological. If you thought that was funny, try this. Dick Cheney thinks he and his boss did a good job while in office.

Cheney displayed no regrets and gave no ground to his many critics within America and around the world. He summed up his record by saying: “I think, given the circumstances we’ve had to deal with, we’ve done pretty well.”

He told ABC News he stood by the most controversial policies of the Bush administration, and urged president-elect Barack Obama to think hard before undoing them. Asked about the use of torture on terror suspects, he replied: “We don’t do torture. We never have. It’s not something this administration subscribes to.”

Later in the same interview, Cheney was asked whether the use of waterboarding in the interrogation of the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks, Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, had been appropriate. He replied: “I do.”

Waterboarding is a technique that induces the sensation of drowning, and is widely regarded as a form of torture. It was used on three high-level al-Qaida suspects, including Mohammed, but has since been banned by the US.

Dick, I think I’d like to know what you mean by ‘pretty’ because I’m not sure I can stand by your definition of ‘pretty well’.

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