Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I saw Australia last night. Going to the movies is a special kind of pleasure in a tiny town like this one. There's only one screen and one movie at a time, so stripped of the numbing effect of overabundance, you have to wait for a movie you actually want to see--or can at least tolerate seeing. The price of admission is $3, except on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when it's $2. (Or you can get a book of nine tickets for $24. Nine!) And you step into a lobby that has been untouched since the sixties at latest--the walls are quilted pleather, the carpet dark red and swirly-patterned, the seats leather and creaky, and the screen enormous.

For pure ridiculous entertainment value, Australia was worth almost every cent of the two bucks I paid to see it. Though it takes place in 1939, Hugh Jackman wears tight, low-cut trousers and sexy rugged leather belts. Nicole Kidman's impassive wall of botoxed forehead and newly squishy lips leave her with tears and a vicious strut as her sole emotive tools. The script is like a little kid who is so pleased with something he's said that he repeats it over and over until all the adults are rolling their eyes--if a line is important, you can bet it'll be uttered at least ten times. (I would like a count of how many times "I will sing you to me" crops up.) (Said singing sounds like, "Mango, tango.") The movie has a forehead-slapping, head-in-hands, groaning-in-disbelief case of Noble Savage. Aboriginal mystical dances in silhouette against the sunset! Cue the didgeridoo! And the kid, the poor kid, he is so very cute, but...

CJ: The boy was a little bit Jar-Jar Binks.
MICHAEL: And a lot Mowgli.
CJ: What was with his weird pidgin dialect? No one else was speaking that way in the movie. ["Him want to speakum to bad coppers."]
MICHAEL: It sounded like Tonto.

Ayako and I had to cover our faces to muffle our giggles at the romance montage (swimming naked in a waterfall?) and the dramatic reunion among the smoke and wreckage. We didn't want to ruin it for the still, silent viewers ahead of us. But it was camp hilarity like I haven't experienced since The Day After Tomorrow.

CJ: That ending music climaxed for like five minutes before they finally let us go.
ADAM: The movie was in climax the whole time.

Let's not even go into how Kidman is lovingly and excessively called "Mrs. Boss" by her aboriginal staff and aforementioned kid, or how the Chinese cook's name is Mr. Sing-song.

P.S. "Chunder" is Aussie slang for vomit!


donal Mosher said...

lovely photo! There's more movie magic in this image
than in the even the trailer for the film.

the unreliable narrator said...

Alors, I freely admit that I washed up here via your Sontag-journals post, but stayed to check out the front page and just choked on my blueberry tea over this review. "Cue the didgeridoo!"

There are times I'm glad I don't review movies any more, and contemplating two-plus hours of Botoxed Mrs. Boss is one of them. (I always got glared at by Serious Moviegoers for laughing at bits that weren't supposed to be funny—and I'd be all, Look, dude, if you sat through five of these a week you'd be giggling too!)

Anyway, thank you so much for saving me the time (and grad-student money—because unfortunately, even terrible movies aren't $2 here in Tartarus).