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  1. Linda
    Linda at |

    Why would you avoid a movie, then criticise it without seeing it?

  2. Linda
    Linda at |

    I guess I’m not used to you heeding the advice of right wing politicians. From what I can gather from that horrible review, Peter Costello doesn’t like the film because – a: it dares to mention the stolen generations (and it’s quite amazing he didn’t say the ‘stolen’ generations); b: it isn’t linear time-wise (like 99% of films) c; it plays with geography (see b); d – it isn’t a 250 minute long documentary covering the fate of every indigenous Australian from 1939 until now. And most hilarious of all he seems to think it’s wrong to point out that white Australian culture is heavily influenced by the USA! I belly laughed at that one. Oh yeah, and writing that Nullah should be taken away for his own protection, thereby totally trivialising the stolen generations issue AGAIN is pretty bloody indefensible.

    Of course I should add that I haven’t seen the film yet – it’s not out here until boxing day, and we haven’t seen any publicity for it at all over here, however I know lots of people who worked on it, and believe me after you’ve seen something hundreds of times, you know whether it’s good or not. They all love it. And yes it’s true I don’t like Nickers’ acting, but no, I’ve never said Baz is overblown. Quite the opposite in fact – I think he’s a genius.

    Also I don’t understand that you seem to be angry that Baz has made a fiction genre film rather than using ‘real life’. Was it billed as a documentary?

    As for ‘Australia’ saving the film industry, it probably has. It gave jobs to people who haven’t worked in years (specifically because of the policies of Peter Costello’s government) and who won’t get paid properly again until some other director decides to keep their big budget film in Australia. Baz is always under pressure to take his movies to the US, because his budgets rely on money from US studios, and has never done so. So that alone makes him a bloody top bloke, and is enough reason for me to fork out my £9 to see ‘Australia’.

    Also you may like Rabbit-Proof Fence better, but I should tell you that Phillip Noyce turned it down for a long time because the budget wasn’t big enough. And I still think it’s wrong to compare two movies when you haven’t seen one of them!

  3. James
    James at |

    What I get from Linda’s comments is that, for one thing, Costello’s review is little more than the slimy disingenuous politicking he and his ilk are famous for.
    He blithely conflates the notions of protecting an individual child with a federally endorsed cultural extermination programme (however it was excused over the 100 years it ran.)

    So the film wants to make a profit, and the way to do that is to get a toehold in the US market. Fair enough. So the film is a fiction woven around some actual points of history. I think you’ll find that that’s true of all films that reference history, (and all documentaries, for that matter!)
    The funny thing is, the profit that this film wants to make is an attempt to claw back a tiny fragment of the stake that has been lost since the Howard/Costello government shat all over the Australian film industry (among other industries) with the “Fair” Trade Agreement and other legislation. And still Costello wants to cry foul against the most significant film (for the industry as a whole) for yonks, as though he hasn’t done enough damage whilst in office. And yes, the Australian film industry is in terrible straights, possibly the worst it’s been since the Yanks bought out the Australian distribution chains in the 30’s, and certainly the worst it’s been since the 70’s, when Weir, and Noyce and co. came out of film school and blazed a trail with their fervent Whitlam government support, which pulled the stagnant local industry out of the doldrums (to mix a metaphor.) There really wasn’t much of an Australian film industry between the 30s and the 70s.
    The thing is, Australia’s economy is too small for the local industry to survive on a purely local consumer base – it needs the government to support it, it needs to produce cultural artefacts rather than pure escapist entertainment in the American mould, and without it Australia risks losing a great deal of national character to American televisual culture (thanks once again FTA for making that easier.)
    It seems that Baz is trying to straddle that gap between cultural and commercial, using the toolbox that film-makers have at their disposal, especially when they want to make a bit of dosh – namely, the language of films. And if Australia‘s being compared to Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz and the like, whilst quoting them, thematically, textually, whatever, that’s actually quite high praise. I don’t see how it’s not.

    But back to Costello for a second – it has to be noted that the bulk of the development of this movie was done when he was in power with Howard, and all the denials that that entailed from on high. The stolen generations was a topic that needed airing and acknowledging, and this film is the fruit of the labour of a director whose style you’ve already said that you like. If you don’t feel that talking about the stolen generations is suitable material for a Baz-style film that’s fine, but please don’t judge it on the trailers – those are marketing tools, designed to lure the largest cross-section of the general public to the cinema. The same people that voted the Howard government into power for eleven years. They aren’t comfortable with the unfamiliar, they want to be entertained. Trailers far more often than not egregiously misrepresent the films they’re made for. In fact if I hate the trailer for a film I’m more likely to see it, because I know it’s quite likely awful because the movie can’t be encapsulated in a few sound-bites, and is therefore potentially interesting above the average. Remember when you’re seeing a trailer you’re seeing something carefully crafted for a particular perceived audience – judging a film by its trailer is like reading the blurb on a dust-jacket and thinking you’ve read the Times Literary Supplement. If you liked Baz’s earlier work, why not see this one and judge it on its own merits.

    Another thing, about film budgets, is that however well one supposes that Rabbit-proof Fence compares to Australia, stylistically, morally, whatever, Australia, with its $130M budget (as opposed to R-PF‘s $6M,) really did employ a lot of people, over quite a long time, which a low budget film, even a string of them, is not going to do. Those little films typically have tiny crews working for deferred payments, minimum wage at best, hoping like mad that the film will make it, and there’ll be something else to work on in a month or so, and nothing that anyone knows on their showreel for their troubles. So while I’d stop short of calling him a “saviour” (where’d that come from? who called him a saviour? Is the Australian film industry “saved”? Well, maybe, but as a result of which effort?) the film Australia stands pretty much alone, in bringing a lot of people to their knees, where they were flat on their backs before, career-wise. So it’s worth it for that alone.
    And If the Aussie industry picks up we might even be able to come home! So go and see it!

  4. James
    James at |

    Wow, that’s a lot of commentary!

  5. James
    James at |

    It’s not that you’re being critical of an Australian movie (nothing wrong with that – I’ve always hated David and Margaret’s ‘add two extra stars because it’s Australian’ approach, and let’s face it, lots of them are trite, trivial garbage), it’s that you aren’t criticizing the movie in question at all, but rather just the meta-materials surrounding the movie.

    And while I concede that the man is not the job, Costello is still an elected career politician, speaking (albeit slightly elliptically), in a public forum, about topics which were directly negatively impacted by the government in which he was deputy leader. He’s still got his political hat on, trust me. He might be a maths geek and therefore really actually good people and not at all responsible for the reprehensible things his party did, but until he resigns from his elected public office, that hat isn’t coming off (if it even can, after all these years.)

    I’m perfectly prepared to hate Australia as a movie – it might be a long, tedious piece of drivel, but Baz has shown himself to be a fine craftsman in the past, so I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. Besides, as an audience member, a consumer, it’s imperative to me to be aware of the provenance of what I consume – who made it, how it was made, why it was made. I already trust this movie’s integrity from that perspective.
    With Australia‘s lofty ambitions, it may well fail, but even if it does, still it’s already an important film. So it might fall from a great height. That’s better than not not having tried for fear of falling.

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