VOTD: ‘[the films of] Baz Luhrmann’

In our last post about Kees van Dijkhuisen‘s ongoing “[the films of]” series, we gave his hint for the next director who’d be getting the montage treatment: “theatrical.” At the time, we could only guess what that clue might mean. Now, in retrospect, the answer seems obvious. The fifth installment of van Dijkhuisen’s yearlong, twelve-part homage series, “[the films of] Baz Luhrmann,” focuses on the Aussie director’s lush, unapologetically romantic style, as seen in his films Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!, and Australia. Watch it after the jump.

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This Week in DVD is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

Please don’t take the commentary on the movies and TV shows too seriously, as they’re meant not to be reviews but rather previews that include the general thoughts and ramblings of a twice-committed DVD addict. The categories represent solely the author’s intentions towards the DVDs at hand, and are in no way meant to be a reflection on what he thinks other people should rent or buy. So if he ends up putting a movie you like in the “Skip it” section without having seen it, please keep in mind that the time you could spend leaving a spiteful but ultimately futile comment could instead be used for more pleasant things in life. Like buying DVDs.

Rent It

AUSTRALIA
Not the complete misfire that some people made it out to be, Australia is a thoroughly entertaining and visually lush movie-watching experience. That’s not to say it isn’t flawed though, with its biggest setback being its desire to do far too much. Apparently Baz Luhrmann wasn’t content with simply making the movie a fun adventure flick, so he decided to tag on a “sweeping epic” Oscar-bait sequel as well. It’s literally two movies in one, and that’s not an exaggeration. At the halfway point, essentially every major plot point finds some means of resolution, only to have a whole slew of new conflicts introduced (many of which strive for a level of seriousness that hasn’t really been earned). Even so, both films have their merits, and despite the clumsiness of the overall narrative, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy myself.
Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: Two deleted scenes.

BEST PRICE
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$16.99 $17.99 $16.99
Amazon – $16.99

EXCLUSIVE DEAL:
What? $5 Gift Card.
Where? Fry’s.

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7 Films for the Visual Effects Oscar

The visual effects branch of the Academy of Motion Pictures has narrowed down the films of 2008 to just seven selections. These seven films will compete in a “bake off” on January 15th to narrow the list to just three selections — the nominees for Best Achievement in Visual Effects. Here is the lost of the final seven:

  • Australia
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • The Dark Knight
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army
  • Iron Man
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth
  • The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Discuss: Which film would you award the Best Achievement in Visual Effects?

Even Pirated Version of Australia Fails to Find Success

Those who listen to our movie podcast know that I’m a fan of Baz Luhrmann and of Australia (go here to hear our review with the Scene Unseen podcast). I was disappointed and disheartened by that film’s poor box office performance; according to BOMojo, its production budget was $130 million, but it’s only taken in a bit north of $43 million domestically. Australia had a lot of problems, but I felt like Luhrmann was bold to tell the story how he did and I’ll take Luhrmann’s failures over successful studio pablum any day. Apparently, mainstream audiences don’t agree with me.

Neither do pirates. The Sydney Morning Herald recently reported that illegal copies of Australia have begun showing up on BitTorrent sites. Despite this, though, the demand for these copies appears to be low, primarily because people may not even be willing to watch a pirated movie that’s almost three hours long and that received lackluster reviews. Also, the copies are “CAMs,” which are low-quality copies made by someone bringing a camcorder into the theater. While it’s good to hear that piracy isn’t torpedoing the film’s box office receipts, it’s sad that this in some way indicates how few people really want to watch this movie.

The thought of someone watching Luhrmann’s epic on a small computer screen with crappy quality sends a shiver down my spine. Don’t pirate Australia! Go see it in theaters. If there’s one movie this season that deserves the big screen treatment, it’s this one (plus maybe Benjamin Button).

Source: Sydney Morning Herald via Gawker

Discuss: What did you think of Australia? Did it deserve its box office fate?

In this episode of the /Filmcast, Dave, Peter, Devindra, and Adam weigh in on the Planet of the Apes prequel, discuss their lack of enthusiasm for Milk, and praise the latent talent of Keanu Reeves. Chris and Jimmy from the enormously popular Scene Unseen podcast join us to deliver their movie review stylings for Australia.

Make sure to tune in next week for our special Wire-themed episode! You can reach the /Filmcast by e-mail or by phone (781-583-1993) with questions, comments, suggestions, praise, and complaints.

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The Guardian is reporting that director Baz Luhrmann agreed, after “intense discussions”, to rewrite the final scenes of the Nicole Kidman/Hugh Jackman romantic adventure epic Australia. Apparently studio executives wanted the film to end on a more positive note (We’re not going to discuss the spoiler in question here). Apparently negative feedback from early test screenings prompted the studio’s concerns over the film finale.

I’m told that Luhrmann has final cut on this film, and that Fox could not have forced Luhrmann to change the ending even if they wanted to. That said, there is a lot of other stuff a studio can threaten to do that could have forced Luhrmann’s hand (not to say Fox did such things…).

It’s impossible to make an opinion based on pure hearsay, and I doubt we’ll ever get the real story behind the changes. Some will blame Fox for stepping in and “ruining Baz’s artistic vision” while others may agree that Baz made the right choice in agreeing to the changes. Either way, I’m sure the alternative ending will be available on DVD.

Australia Moves to Thanksgiving


20th Century Fox has announced they are pushing the release of Baz Luhrmann‘s Australia from November 14th, back to November 26th. The shift was made as a butterfly effect of Warner Bros’ decision to movie Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince from November 21st back to Summer 2009. As you may remember, this prompted Sony to move Quantum of Solace to the November 14th release date. The move will also give Australia more time in the editing room, as Variety reports that Luhrmann is currently shooting pickup shots. The film will now go head to head with Transporter 3, Four Christmases, The Road, Bolt and The Time Traveler’s Wife.

Check out some new international movie posters for Max Payne, Transporter 3 and Baz Luhrmann’s Australia.

via: postergeek, ros

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