Photos by David Mariuz and Reuters, from here.
I went to see Baz Luhrmann's film Australia this week. I wasn't expecting great things from it (in fact, my expectations kept getting lost behind the couch) but it was an, um, interesting experience.
So there was great scenery and lots of lovely cows and those painterly CGI effects I do so enjoy. There were sunsets and period costumes and a veritable volary of great Australian actors.
But the thing I was most looking forward to was coming home post-screening and reading Germaine Greer's review of the film which had been published in the Guardian on December 16 last year.
Having thoroughly enjoyed Greer's descriptions of Michelle Obama's dress on the night of the US election as a "butcher's apron" and a "geometrical hemorrhage" I was very much looking forward to her take on Australia.
And what a fabulously ferocious review it is! Where the film wasn't quite sure what genre it was (epic? pantomine? war story? love story? agricultural history?) the review is definitely of the less enthusiastic kind. Take the opening line, for example: "The scale of the disaster that is Baz Luhrmann's Australia is gradually becoming apparent." Giddy up!
And from there it's off! While I spent the first 20 minutes of the film muttering to myself "pantomine? No? Yes, pantomine! No? Not a pantomine, yes?" I had no trouble identifying the kind of review Greer's was: it was damning, thoroughly and consistently, from beginning to end.
While Australia stopped and started between the love story and the war story Greer raced through a dazzling array of critical gems: from historical inaccuracies, through imperial fantasies, the appalling treatment of Aboriginal people since European 'settlement' in Australia to infant mortality rates and false mythologies.
By the end of the movie I had shared a few laughs with my fellow cinema-goers and enjoyed trying to figure out whether Nicole Kidman had recently had shock therapy, but for narrative drive, conviction and challenging content the review wins hands down.
For a review that's a little more fun than frowny frowny Greer's, check this out: Australia is a "cheesy, cloying catastrophe". Noice.