Sunday, April 29, 2007

Australia Photos

Most paparazzi photos of movies in pre production or filming stage focus on movie stars loitering about the set or, if the movie is of a particularly geeky genre (say comic book or fantasy/scifi): costumes and set choices. Set photos from Australia (2008) Baz Luhrmann's romantic 30s epic about an aristocrat (Nicole Kidman) and a cattle driver (Hugh Jackman) are making their way around the web courtesy of Just Jared. As is the norm, the photos that are getting the web atwitter are the ones of Hugh Jackman ...sorry the link has escaped me (but he sports a tux (and a 'stache! Eep). But this is my favorite.

It makes me happy in so many ways ~ let's just go over five of them.

1. I don't know who this woman is since her back is turned but it looks a bit like Catherine Martin so let's just pretend it is. Catherine is Baz's wife and secret weapon (she handles production design and costumes and you know how crucial those elements are to his movies)

2. People are thrilled to see Hugh Jackman in a tux and they'll be even more thrilled to see Kidman in anything once pictures of her start to surface. But this is BAZ LUHRMANN ! This is the reason for the excitement: he's directing again. Oh joy. He's only made three feature: Strictly Ballroom (1992), Romeo + Juliet (1996), and Moulin Rouge! (2001) but what a trio. As Glenn pointed out in his guest blogging here, he takes too long between movies but the results are impressive. You have to let it slide.

3. The birdcage instantly made me think of "One Day I'll Fly Away" and Nicole Kidman, drowning in red gownage. This cage is just fancy enough that I'm allowing myself to hope that Baz hasn't completed abandoned his "red curtain" aesthetic for this new epic which is presumably more down to earth than Australian ballroom dancing, time period clashing Shakespearean freakouts, and spectacular musicals. For those who may be asking "what the hell are you talking out?" it goes like this. Baz often described his first three films as a red curtain trilogy, since they were all excessively theatrical in their visual style and subject matter. So theoretically what we know and love as Baz's style might be but a small piece of his aesthetic. But still... maybe I'm just stubborn but I'm betting he'll still have theatrical flair, with or without red curtains & musical numbers.

4. I'm pretending the older gentlemen is Sir Ian McKellen. He's not in the cast but I like to think about seeing Sir Ian in all new movies.

5. Above all else this photo puts a huge smile on my face because it means that this movie is really happening. In one or two years we'll have ourselves a mammoth epic directed by a world class auteur starring two of the most beautiful and talented movie stars on the planet right up their on our silver screens. If that's not a reason for bliss, what is...?


Glenn Dunks said...

EEP! Cannot wait.

Just for the record, I believe the man to the far right (in the armyish uniform) is Ben Mendlesohn. Not sure if he's known in America but he's pretty much Noah Taylor's twin. Or he was until he tidied himself up.

The Hugh pics are confusing though because he's playing a "rough hewn cattle driver" and "rough hewn cattle drivers" don't wear white tuxedos. Or, I'm pretty sure they didn't in the 1940s.

J.D. said...

I also pretend Ian McKellen is in everything. It just works better.

Anonymous said...

Kamikaze - it may be that the "rough hewn cattle driver" is trying to dress up to impress the swells - or his ladylove. I'm not sure, but from the pics I've seen it looks like the sleeves of the white tuxedo jacket show far too much cuff, as if to imply his tuxedo doesn't fit properly and he doesn't really fit into that sort of gear. (I'm guessing, mind you.)

Anyway, Baz isn't known for "realism" so what this film will be like is anyone's guess at the moment.


The Movie & Music Xpress said...

Andy, did I miss you tribute to Michelle Pfiefer or something. Isn't today her B-day?

The Phoenician Film Critic

Anonymous said...

Call me ungracious (and you will!), Baz Luhrman is the one auteur Australia has that I would gladly give to any other nation. Anything to save the kind of national stereotyping one of his costume-party extravaganzas is going to do us.

We have Peter Weir, Scott Hicks, Bruce Beresford, Ray Lawrence, Philip Noyce, Gillian Armstrong, Jocelyn Moorehouse - why is Baz the darling? He makes 300's for lovers of costumes and 80s/90s pop... :S

Glenn Dunks said...

I would respond to that, but you're "anonymous" so I don't think I should bother.

Are you the same anonymous person who hates Julianne Moore too?

Anonymous said...

No, I really like Julianne Moore. Safe, End of the Affair, Children of Men, Far From Heaven, The Hours - there aren't many with that kind of quality oozing from their veins. Magnolia was a bit overwrought from her though.

I'm the anonymous guy who likes Wong Kar Wai, Michael Mann, Terence Malick and thinks any list of greatest films ever made should include something by Kieslowski, Renais' Providence, and a film scored by Bernard Herrmann.

I'm anonymous because I never remember passwords.

TallulahBelle said...

The older gentleman is in fact Barry Otto - Miranda Otto's (who was in Lord of the Rings) dad in real life, Scott Hastings dad Doug from Strictly Ballroom and National Australian Treasure.

I for one am terrified that Baz is making a film called Australia about what sounds like a horridly cliched Aussie subject. The only thing that might save it is the bombing of Darwin, which is a fairly significant historical incident to us, and also the prospect that Kidman might get some sun . . .

Glenn Dunks said...

Can't people just be happy that Baz is working and that he's working in Australia and that he's trying to re-energise the world onto Australian films. Not all of our films have to be tiny movies about depressed people or stupid comedies about bogans.

If Peter Weir, Jane Campion, Bruce Beresford, Fred Schepisi, Phillip Noyce, Gillian Armstrong or any other number of talented Aussie directors wants to be making a big ol' grand movie set in Australia and starring Australians and made with Australians then nothing is stopping them. I'd be pleased as punch to see Ray Lawrence (Jindabyne was my #1 of 2006) make a big splash overseas. But he hasn't.

God, Australians a fussy buggars.

Anonymous said...

tallulabelle, considering how immaculately pale Kidman is, I doubt she is interested in looking as if she just got baked. I am sure that they had hats in the 30s and 40s and also long sleeved dresses or tops. There is nothing great in having the sun have fun on your skin, all it does is age you and add about 10 years of wrinkles on ya. Nic, keep being sensible and cover yourself up.

MichaelMcl said...

"Fussy buggers"?

Too right we are, copper! ;)
I don't mind MOULIN ROUGE so much, but I truly can't stand Baz's two other films...


So let me throw this out there for you Aussies out there.

what do you think is a definitive aussie movie? One that says the most about Australia as you know it. I'm curious.

Anonymous said...

The most Aussie movie is a very debatable thing, partly because there's a lot of disagreement about what we should look like to the outside. The list below is very focused on guy culture (one key exception) and more serious tone. THE CASTLE is perhaps the blend of Little Miss Sunshine and Dumb Kulture for the country.

- BLUE MURDER - a great TV miniseries, says a lot about Australian buddy culture. It's set against the backdrop of a big police corruption crackdown in Sydney.

- PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK - this is our ultimate 'landscape atmosphere' movie. Some of my fellow film-makers find this embarrassing to look back on, but I can't help it - Weir entrances me every time.

- WAKE IN FRIGHT - this hallucinating film is a classic, though one that has yet to make a DVD appearance. It follows the descent of a city school teacher in gambling in an outback town one weekend.

- THE PROPOSITION captures a lot of history in its genre tale... treatment of the aboriginals, bushrangers, landowners, etc.

- GALLIPOLI isn't very true to what happened at Gallipoli I understand, reflecting more the hippy youth of Weir and the playright who wrote the script than anything else. But all the accurate Australian war films come off like empty romance - Lighthorsemen and Kokoda come to mind. So I call this one of the best for representing the homoerotic bond of men at arms.

- THE BOYS - Nasty stuff, but very honest about a culture where crimes of a particularly grotesque nature occur.

- PROOF - there's lot of beautiful dashes of Australian culture in this very cold, love triangle drama.

Incidentally, I made a short film called THE HIGHWAYMAN a couple of years ago that was very much about Australia - the country embodied in a 'modern day highwayman' who held to the old ways. Like the highwayman of my tale, Australia wants to be taken seriously on the world stage, but it's often riding a horse when everyone's riding in cars. It's a subtext thing, but I think it works.

Anonymous said...

Gallipoli and Picnic at Hanging Rock speak for themselves. I would also add Strictly Ballroom and Priscilla Queen of the Desert because I love them and they changed the way we looked at the Aussie image.

Gallipoli isn't just about the fact that the Brits used the ANZACS as canon fodder. That was somewhat exaggerated in the film. It's about the comming of age of Australia as seen through the eyes of two young Aussies who also face their own rights of passage. It also highlights the vastness of the Australian landscape, pits the old world against the new and has the most heart renching ending of any movie I've ever seen. It's very un Hollywood like in that respect.

Picnic at Hanging Rock is based on a classic Australian novel. The film is so hauntingly beautiful it's images never leave your mind. And these images are of Australian summers, hazy and so lazy (sorry about the tacky rhyme) that it is not beyond the realms of possibility that 3 girls could disapear in the bush amongst the gumtrees and ancient monolithic rock formations- while everyone else sleeps. It also contrast the old world with the new world. The laid back innocence of the girls, especially Miranda as opposed to the uptight Victorian (as in Queen Victoria as well as the State of...) School marm. Young Australia challenging old England.

Then there's Strictly Ballroom. Yes I believe it is a definitive Australian movie in terms of character as opposed to subject matter. The nuclear family, the multicultural family the corrupt Dance Federation head (read corrupt politician type), the mates, the pushy stage mum (universal not just Australian), the down to earth kids taken out of their normal suburban setting and place into the glitz and glam of Dance Sport.

What I love about Priscilla is that it turns the macho Australian male identity completely around, dresses him up in drag still keeps him essentially Aussie. Oh then there's the desert.

Anonymous said...

I didn't read your post anonymous before I posted mine because I didn't want to be swayed. Why are some of your film maker buddies embarrassed by PaHR. I'm interested because I've always felt it was beautifully filmed but then I'm no film maker.

Do you really find something "homoerotic" about the "bond of men at arms" in this film. There have been films that deliberately touch on this subject. Unfortuantely I believe in this instance the bond is of the boring old cliche of "mateship" not something as interesting (obviously to some) as homoertocism. But then again I was 14 yrs old when I first saw Gallipoli. Any such subtext would have gone over my head. Come to think of it, still does today.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Re: HANGING ROCK. I think if I understood why my film-making buddies didn't like Hanging Rock, I probably wouldn't too. I think it's a fine film - a rare film that got shorter in the director's cut. I like the film's approach to resolution.

Re: GALLIPOLI. Sure, there's mateship, but when I watched it again a couple of years ago, I was struck by how Weir had carried over some of the adoring images of his female stars of HANGING ROCK into the way we view the young men of GALLIPOLI. It's not BEAU TRAVAIL or 300 - or anything within a hundred miles of that - but it did make me think at the time that the bonds between these men were perhaps deeper than mateship, though any thoughts were never acted upon. I should see it again - I might have read too much into it that time.

I kind of agree with your thoughts on STRICTLY BALLROOM, I just wish the film didn't rub me the wrong way. ;)

Anonymous said...

I believe that in the first scene in the movie Hugh has a punchup in the pub with the large gentleman with the beard in the picture