Why Twilight is a Smash and Australia Isn't
Twilight has emerged as a cinema phenomenon--Harry Potter with fangs--and it's clearly because it knows its target audience (moist teen girls), it delivers dreamy, hypnotic goods based on a popular book, and it stars a really cute guy (though I have to admit I could barely keep my eyes open to enjoy him for the whole film).
But another new release, Australia, doesn't seem to be biting into the public's necks at all. The film is only doing so-so box office, and, being a brilliantly incisive observer of cultural events, I can totally see why. It's a beautiful, big-scale, period romp filled with lovely visuals and Baz Lurhmann's usual obsessive attention to detail. But it exhibits wild shifts in tone and, what's worse, the thing is way too fucking long! At a press screening I went to, some reporters were leaving before the film was over, pretending they thought it HAD ended. But I knew from my trusty light-up watch that there was another 20 whole minutes to go! (Thank you, K Mart!) By that point, you didn't necessarily want to see any more of Hugh Jackman's preening or Nicole Kidman's eyebrow rolling or the aborigine kid's cute narrating ("This story starts in a land called ENG-land.")
Luhrmann cut a whole bunch of the film--in fact, he was working on it till the moment they opened the theaters--but he probably should have randomly chopped out another hour or so. And added a hot vampire.