Although "Quantum of Solace" is still playing at my local theatre, "Australia" isn't, it left just this past Thursday. Both of these movies fall under my classification of "movies that will lose visual impact once on the small screen", so we went hunting through the listings. Turned out, both movies were playing at the Towne Stadium 16, which is a short 45 minute drive from my town. Both movies were scheduled so we could see them in an afternoon - Quantum of Solace at 3:10, followed by Australia at 5:30.
Thoughts on Quantum of Solace. The Jack White/Alicia Keys duetted theme song was slightly less awful when viewed with the standard super-cool opening credits, as opposed to the film clip where they're bellowing at each other. Still not precisely a *good* Bond theme, but tolerable. Daniel Craig's eyes are beautifully lit throughout this movie, like pacific water with blue chips of ice. Following Mary's advice, I suspended all disbelief, and focused on making sure I knew where Daniel Craig was at all times. Several moments of this movie telegraphed their results way down the track, with some of the shots practically screaming out what was to come. (Fuel cells, what about the fuel cells?) but the scene with the fighter plane made me jump with (good) fright. All in all, a spicy confection of a film and I had a good time.
Australia is a full hour longer than Quantum of Solace, clocking in at 2 hours and 45 minutes. (I made sure to visit the loo between movies, and restrict my liquid intake.) Baz Luhrmann has a distinctive visual style that comes across as fairy-tale and make believe. It worked in this movie, for the most part, but I preferred the scenes that just let the Australian landscape shine. There were several points during this movie where I felt the time passing, and not in a good way, but each time it was rescued by Hugh (Jackman) and the amazing kid at the centre of the film, Brandon Walters, who plays Nullah. What an absolutely gorgeous young boy, just riveting every moment on screen.
Things I noticed that USA audiences may not. Rolf Harris's wobbleboard on the soundtrack! Every single Australian film and television actor of note in the past 30 years is in this movie. The word Boong.. That last one, American audiences should/will get that it's not a good word by the context, but I don't know that it'll have the impact on them that it had on me. The real context would be had, were there to be subtitles under the Australian dialect, and everywhere the word boong is used, it be replaced with the word nigger. That word has the shock value for someone from the USA, that the word boong (should have) has for someone from Australia.
The theme of the Stolen Generations really hit home. I was born in 1965. Mixed race Aboriginal kids were still being removed from their families right up until the late sixties and early seventies. To think that this appalling thing was still happening my lifetime, it just makes me sick.
Kevin Rudd, who I didn't get to vote for (he won office in 2007, on my birthday, lovely present!), he stepped up to the plate, and on behalf of my country, he said "Sorry". (Unlike the half hearted opposition response, tosser. Deserved to have himself presented with everyone's backs.)
Not a perfect movie, but I'm glad I got to see it on the big screen. A country with the scale of Australia, it really needs a big canvas, and that it got.