News in that Baz Luhrmann has found a title for his new epic which tells the story of an aristocrat who inherits a cattle station called Faraway Downs prior to World War II. It is apparently to be called .... wait for it... "Australia". It will star Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.
According to Lurhmann he is "taking the perspective of the rest of the world to this film how they might view 'Australia...When you say 'Casablanca' or 'Oklahoma!' it means big. It means vast... I'm not saying this film is Australia. It's a metaphor for a state of mind, for the faraway."
Actually of course I could point out to Baz that Casablanca is really quite a small film with only a few sets and where all the action takes place over 3-4 days. The characters are well developed due to excellent dialogue and subtle acting and the film has a slightly claustrophobic feel which is why it works so well. It wasn't designed to be a big film, and had it been it would probably have seemed hokey and ridiculous.
So, at the risk of sounding un-Austrayan, can I say that I loathed Moulin Rouge and I can't imagine how bad this film could be. It seems to me that since Strictly Ballroom our Baz has disappeared up his own sphincter. Mate, we get the cultural references and the big statements, we just don't need to have them slammed down our throat in technicolour. Calling a film "Australia" is a bit like calling it "Movie" or called a book "Novel".
I also can't imagine our Nicole looking like she belongs on a pre-WWII Western Australian cattle farm. Firstly, no one who lived there could look that pale. Secondly, as far as I know, Botox is yet to make it to Broome in 2006, let alone back in the 30's. The only fun part of the film is likely to be watching her try and fail to furrow her unknotted brow at the various setbacks that will befall her and Hugh.
The story is sure to feature some mystic Aboriginal subplot which will no doubt be resolved through a warm and loving friendship that forms with a small and non-threatening Aboriginal child or elder who will heal any rifts between white and black communities. Terra nullius won't be a problem, and everyone will live happily ever after in the way they still do in the Kimberley. Maybe we might get the homestead threatened by a bushfire, or a plague of locusts, or uncooperative shearers . Crops and animals will die like there is no tomorrow. There will be some racist and stupid local bureaucrats who will utter phrases like "Stone the crows mate, he won't last long at Faraway Downs, they never do". Through all of this Hugh will probably look resolute and sexy, while Nicole will look pale, seriously underfed and remarkably untroubled. A few glycerine tears will hint at her distress but Baz won't be able to stop there and will need to add some swelling music and closeups of her very blue contact lenses as part of his love affair with his ice queen. The costumes will look fabulous but completely impractical, and the dialogue will sound like it was written by Bill Collins. If we are really unlucky our Keith (who is actually a Kiwi) will contribute to the soundtrack.
Following the film's release we will have to endure an endless publicity campaign where Hugh and Nicole will sit grimacing next to Baz while he talks over them, raves about his vision and her blue eyes, and generally acts like someone who has forgotten to take their Ritalin. In interviews Hugh will be gracious and charming, and Nicole will seem forced talking about how she really got into the psyche of the character, and how much she just loves her home country.
You heard it hear first, Ms Batville predicts that "Australia" will be a turkey.