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Sunday
Apr132014

Strictly Baz

As you may or may not have heard Baz Luhrmann has been in the news again this week. 2013 was another big year for him with The Great Gatsby exceeding expectations (financially). The buzz on Baz hasn't quieted in this new year. On March 2nd, his wife Catherine Martin won another pair of Oscars to match her Moulin Rouge! statues and new collaborations for the Bazmark spouses are on the way.

First up is the stage musical adaptation of his breakthrough debut hit Strictly Ballroom (1992). The Guardian featured him a few days ago -- the video is more of a commercial for the show really than a true interview but there are clips from the show and Baz statements worth parsing.

I was 29 for the film. In the back of my mind I always thought 'it's got to be a musical'. I thought 'God, I hope I don't end up 40 and I'm doing Strictly Ballroom musical.' And I'm 52. So I think it will always be in my life. I think a bit like a band that had their first hit song. If you aren't playing that hig song at concerts until you have a foot in the grave then probably you're doing something wrong for the audience and probably you're doing something wrong for yourself. So I've just accepted that it's actually a fundamental part of our life and our journey"

The show, which obviously intends a Broadway run given how frequently Baz drops the word "Broadway" while talking about it is playing in Sydney Australia and the reviews for the show have just arrived which are generally positive though it's amusing that the Telegraph and Guardian critics say almost exactly opposite things about how it stacks up to the beloved film version. 

Baz's next film project-- if he actually goes through with it -- is a real surprise. The rumor is he'll direct the big screen version of the ol' TV series Kung Fu. I can't imagine what would attract Luhrmann to this property which is such an about face, even if he does love to genre-hop. But I pray to God, they dump the whole non-Asian conceit that the TV show went with. David Carradine was such a white dude, you know, and nobody needs 21st century narratives about ethnic anything that pretend audiences can only bear to look at white faces. Even if he does decide to do it, we won't see it for years; his films often appear to be on speed but the auteur isn't speedy. What's more he's supposedly also doing a Napoleon miniseries for TV and a TV series about the early days of hip-hop. How many of those do you think will actually come to be? It takes him five or so years to make everything, after all.  

People will surely make jokes about him adding musical numbers to Kung Fu though it's tough to graft those on to memories of that sedate and dusty TV show. But maybe it's not as impossible as it sounds. Every single one of Baz's films yearns to be a musical even though only one of them truly is.  Given that pervasive feeling, it's just bizarre that he hasn't made one since Moulin Rouge! but maybe he knows it's untoppable? Singular sensations are called that for a reason. They're rare and glorious freaks. 

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Reader Comments (10)

I've never seen Kung Fu, but I can totally see Baz doing some wuxia material. Anyone who has seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero or House of Flying Daggers can see those movies are musicals in structure, with fights replacing music in the function of telling a story and astonish the audience at the same time. That's why both genres have choreography.

April 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

cal -- that's totally true but Kung Fu just had *very little* in common with any of those beyond the existence of martial arts. But maybe that's what Baz is picturing. I hope so!

April 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Baz makes me so angry sometimes. I love him to pieces but he does not help when he thinks about things like these.

Kung Fu, Baz? really? i mean, a director should be able to branch out, but Kung Fu? He would do so well with a film noir. Lots of style plus it would give Catherine Martin another chance to go bananas.

Well, i'm hoping to see what he comes up with when the film comes out in four years.

April 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck.

i'm just wondering which pop star/dj i haven't heard of will be doing the cover/remix of 'kung fu fighting' for the climatic twenty minute fight scene (that will surely be the cause of death for several editors)

April 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterpar

I wish he never said that he'd retired "The Red Curtain" approach to filmmaking. It would have made it much easier to deal with the things I had problems with in both Australia and especially The Great Gatsby. There's a brilliant movie somewhere in Australia, but there's just too much going on. Even still it's a masterpiece compared to The Great Gatsby. Leo giving great movie star mojo and Joel Edgerton shoplifting the whole thing aside, I think it was a complete mess. We get it Baz, you love a party, you love what Catherine can do, but it's like the story was directed from the Cliff Notes. As much as the story is about excess, any subtext Fitzgerald's work has was sacrificed in favor for it. Then again, it made a shitload of money, so maybe I just wasn't the intended audience. All this to say, if things were still happening within "The Red Curtain" I could forgive Baz apparently being lost in a world of artifice. If that is the case, his talents might best serve something more fantastical. Maybe not Kung Fu, but I've always thought he would absolutely kill an adaptation of <I>The Picture of Dorian Gray. Dear Lord (and Nicole) hear my pray and make this happen one day.

April 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVal

Isn't it great to tear down stereotypes that Baz Luhrmann is straight and Roland Emmerich gay?

/end of random morning thought

April 14, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

@iggy

I think three famous Australian men are married to beards because they're clearly in glass closets: Luhrmann, Pearce, and Jackman.

April 14, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

The idea of Baz Luhrmann making a Material Arts movie sounds akward but also plausible at the same time.
*lol* I don't know. I like his films because the first half part of them is always hilarious messy and then deadly serious in the second half.

April 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

3rtful, lol, until I test them they're straight to me. In the end, isn't a closeted gay like the tree in the forest that falls down without no one around? If no one knows (in the flesh) about your gay life, does it really exist?

/end of existential evening thought

April 14, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

Glad he's making this project, sure it'll be cool! It'll be dazzling to have Baz make a martial arts film! Cal roth is right that Crouching Tiger, House OfFlying Daggers, Hero, ect are like musicals in their size and scope, he'll be perfect for it!

April 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

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