Baz Luhrmann: Just Foxing


Are we the lucky country or what? Think how Kath and Kim we'd have sounded if Mark Anthony Luhrmann had taken the nickname Bazza instead of Baz.

"Bazza Luhrmann's Austroilia. Now showing at a cinema near every bloke and his sheila."

Thank heavens for small mercies. Come February 22nd, 2009, does anyone really want to hear, "And the Ocker goes to..." (If that day ever comes, pickle me pink and keep me perpetually sozzled.)
As a matter of fact, Baz earned his affectionate nickname for his resemblance to the adorable British glove puppet fox, Basil Brush, created in the late 1960s. So to all those Hollywood naysayers who doubted whether Baz would get 'Australia' over the line in time, take that - he was probably just foxing! (I say 'as a matter of fact' loosely, by the way, because my research only extends as far as Wikipedia and since it can be edited by anyone, there's a modicum of chance I'm giving you a bum steer. I'll always wonder if Josh Groban really did play kazoo at school...)

My same source says that Basil Brush's "persona, speech and gap-toothed look", in turn, was inspired by Terry-Thomas, a stirling English comedian, renowned for portraying disreputable cads of the upper classes and uttering "Good show!" By my calculations, this makes Baz a second cousin to Terry-Thomas or at worst, only two degrees of separation away, which is considerably less than the distance between Terry-Thomas's teeth. (I, on the other hand, have a veritable mosh pit of pearly whites jamming in my front row, proving that you can have too much of a good thing.)

Little wonder that Baz turned to show biz with such associations in his life. (Oh, and his father ran a petrol station and movie theatre, both of which would influence his film making career, according to my source. Not sure about the petrol station. He wanted to set the world on fire? He learned the importance of being able to pump up his own tyres? He saw the look in a woman's eyes when offered a grease and oil change and realised the power of a great romance?)

From the early critic reviews, it looks like Baz Luhrmann's love of the theatrical and a love story as mushy as the best pie and peas are evident in 'Australia'. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I will and I'll love it, damn it all, because I'm already fed up with people sharpening their secateurs for some Tall Poppy pruning.

For those who say the love scenes are Harlequin or Mills & Boon-esque as if it's a bad thing, let's guess how many millions of women have had their fancies tickled and blood pressure elevated by such entertainment over the years. I'd say A Lot.

And to the angst-riddled types who think giving people what they want is a sign of artistic weakness, perish the thought that Baz knows the fairer sex far too well to hide Hugh Jackman's melting smile and tanned six pack under the shade of a sensible Akubra for long. I have to admit, though: I think I'm a little in love with Deborra-Lee Furness. What a woman! She has the guts not to embrace camping even though her hunk of hubby was filming in the Never Never (we comfort-lovers instinctively know there's a reason why it's called that). And she has the fortitude to not pass out with delirium every time he looks at her the way he does ... no wonder Hugh is so smitten!

There are accusations of schmaltz in 'Australia' but let's remember that Baz wanted to bump off The Drover. After a pushy test audience and possibly a beer or two, he acquiesced to peer pressure and went for one of his alternative endings, so it wasn't really his fault. (He was also seen hanging around the back of the cinema on opening night having a few surreptitious puffs with the tough kids.) I'm looking forward to seeing it and finding out for myself. Fortunately my blood pressure is on the low side so I can take a few hours of The Drover without missing a beat.

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