Australia

I feel like it should really be called Australia!. Because it’s big! And epic! And just over two and a half hours long! And exhausting!
*ahem* Let me try again. Nicole Kidman is Lady Sarah Ashley, aristocratic Englishwoman. I know, she really is Australian, but she isn’t for this movie, so there. Her husband is in Australia!, running Faraway Downs, a cattle ranch he owns, but don’t worry about him because he’s conveniently gotten rid of early on. In spite of the fact that World War II is about to break out, Nicole goes to Australia! to bring him home, because they need money and that means selling the ranch, which hasn’t turned a profit in some time.
She shows up wearing a perfect blue and white travel suit and dragging matching luggage behind her, or rather, the porters are doing the dragging. And it really is matching luggage, because it’s blue and white, too. She first meets the ‘trusted man’ her husband as sent to meet her, The Drover, when he uses her luggage to beat up the guy he’s having a brawl with. The Drover is Hugh Jackman, who actually does get to be Australian, and unshaven, and inclined to punch first and ask questions later. He is not, however, fortunate enough to have a name, so everyone calls him The Drover. I think maybe it’s supposed to be a homage to Clint Eastwood in those spaghetti westerns where he didn’t have a name, because early on they try to make him look like Clint Eastwood.
There’s also a half-caste boy named Nullah (Brandon Walters), offspring of an aborigine woman and one of the Evil Guys. (It’s like a Bond movie in that respect — you know who the Black Hats are at a glance.) Main Evil Guys are Neil Fletcher (David Wenham — he was in 300, the narrator character that I kept hoping would drop dead) and “King” Carney (Bryan Brown, also an actual Australian playing an Australian), cattle baron of the north. There’s another king, too, which you know is going to cause problems — this one is called King George (David Gulpilil), an aborigine elder and grandfather to Nullah.

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Yes, it really is this melodramatic.

And then EVERYTHING happens. Seriously. War breaks out. Shady business deals are brokered. Bombs fall. Fires are set. Cattle plummet to their deaths. People are eaten by crocodiles. Kids go missing. Hugh Jackman foxtrots. Nicole Kidman sings, for heaven’s sake. I’m getting exhausted again just thinking about it all. And it’s too much. I thought the movie was over about three times before it actually ended — they just kept throwing in more. It felt like the Movie that Never Ends.
Which would’ve been all right, if I’d been able to enjoy it more. But though it looks wonderful — even aside from the scenery, Nicole Kidman is her usual lovely self; and Hugh Jackman is absolutely dreamy — and now and then I did manage to get swept up into events, it really isn’t all that good. So I feel like I ended up exhausted for no good reason. The little boy actually manages to be a decent actor, in spite of some of the very silly stuff he has to do and odd lines he has to say — but I was so tired of his narration halfway through that I kind of felt like I was watching 300 again.
Two and three-quarters idols is the best I can do, though I suppose some people are going to object — Oprah, for instance, has been busy brainwashing her viewers into thinking this is a great film, I hear. Not that it’s quite bad, either, but it really isn’t ever as grand as the filmmakers wanted it to be, much as they obviously tried — and maybe that’s the problem, that they just tried too hard. Or maybe they really needed that exclamation point in the title.

New Music Coming Very Soon

I know many of you are getting impatient, but there are some very nice pieces in the process of getting uploaded right now!
So – look for them in a day or two!
Cheers, and thanks for checking back so often!
- Kevin MacLeod

Quantum of Solace

The title sounds like it belongs to a sci-fi film, doesn’t it? It’s the title of an actual Ian Fleming short story featuring Bond, James Bond, but it isn’t really a spy story. That’s okay, though, because the movie has nothing to do with the story; they just used the title. It means “a precise figure defining the comfort/humanity/fellow feeling required between any pair of people for love to survive. If the Quantum of Solace is 0, then love is dead.”
And love is dead. Bond has lost yet another girlfriend, in Casino Royale (The one time I don’t bother watching the film before because Bond movies never connect, they make them connect. I need to find someone to complain to.), Vesper Lynd, and now he wants revenge. Again. They make a big deal about how she was really “the one”, but like M says, I’ve heard that before. He just always needs to be taking revenge, because that’s his thing.
Anyway, it was a touch confusing for me because of that, but Bond movies nearly always throw you into the middle of the action without much warning anyway, and they did okay at explaining everything you need to know. They make the title fit a little by retroactively naming the criminal organization from Casino Royale Quantum and giving them a little stylized Q logo that makes me wish for the real Q to show up. But he doesn’t, and there’s no Moneypenny, either. *sigh* Thank goodness Judi Dench is still around.
What you get is all the usual Bond stuff — mostly. There’s car chases, boat chases, explosions (hint: if Bond is around and you hear someone mention ‘unstable fuel cells’, start running immediately), glamorous parties, beautiful women, and villains so villainous that you can just see them oozing, um, villainy. That’s sort of comforting about the Bond films, actually — you may have a few betrayals here and there, but the really big bad guys are just bad. They never switch sides.

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Revenge is a dish best served… sandy.

Bond Girl #1 is Camille, who doesn’t get a last name. She’s played by a Ukranian actress (Olga Kurylenko) who speaks three languages, but Spanish isn’t one of them, so of course they make her Bolivian here. She was the sister of the woman with the giant gun in Max Payne, but we won’t hold that against her. Since she wants revenge against a South American ex-dictator who wants his old job back and is working with Quantum to make that happen; and James wants revenge against — well, maybe everyone by now, but Quantum will do — they get thrown together as semi-reluctant partners.
Quantum, personified by big bad guy Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), is trying to corner the market on the earth’s most vital resource, using a global eco-charity called Greene Planet to hide behind, and a more obvious sign of megalomania would be hard to find. He has some justification for that, though, since he literally makes or breaks governments, it seems, even though he sort of looks like an accountant trying a little too hard to be cool. But Bond finds him a fitting target for his vengeance, and that’s all we need here.
Three and a quarter idols here. I still miss Pierce Brosnan, but Daniel Craig is managing to make the role his own, even though he’s no longer quite the James Bond we once knew. Which is kind of a shame, but even icons have to move with the times, I suppose. Unfortunately, he keeps duing the same purse-your-lips-to-show-you’re-serious thing that Dennis Quaid does, and they both need to stop that. I think a support group is in order.