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There’s Something About Baz

There’s Something About Baz

Cassidy Krygger

Cassidy Krygger

Hollywood Reporter

There’s Something About Baz

“The films I make are couture frocks — extremely labor intensive. You know, they’re like a beacon. You’re not going to be making something that will endure or have an imprint on the culture if it isn’t drawing violent juxtaposing critical responses.” – Baz Luhrmann 

If you love cinema, then you know about the Australian director, producer and writer Baz Luhrmann. Having four of his five films in the top 10 highest-grossing films in Australia, his mark on the film industry Down Under is indelible. But just who is the man behind the movie magic?

The man we know as Baz Luhrmann was born Mark Anthony Luhrmann on September 17, 1962, and raised in the small rural town, Herons Creek on the North Coast of New South Wales. With a population of only 247 people, entertainment was limited for the young boy with a creative genius flair. Luhrmann spent the majority of childhood watching old films in his parent’s movie theatre.  

 

But a theatre show about Ballroom Dancing is where this story truly begins. While studying at NIDA in 1983, Baz and a group of fellow acting students put together a short 20-minute play about a young male Ballroom dancer who shunned convention. The reaction was ecstatic, and Baz discovered something about himself, he later told The Guardian,  “I knew for good or bad I would be making shows for the rest of my life.” And so it began. 

 

Luhrmann and his creative team, now called Six Years Old, joined the Sydney Theatre Company and this is where the fully fleshed out production of Strictly Ballroom came to life.

Movie producers saw the theatre show and offered to transform the play into a feature film. Luhrmann agreed but only if he was to direct. Baz, the Hollywood movie director, was born. 

After the surprise worldwide success of Strictly Ballroom (who would have thought ballroom dancing would become trendy again and inspire an episode of The Simpsons?), Luhrmann was given the financial freedom to let his creative flair fly. He followed this success with his first big Hollywood production starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Romeo + Juliet in 1996, bringing the Shakespearean classic into modern cinema. Only Luhrmann could successfully retain Shakespeare’s original dialogue, mix it with modern America and create a spectacular twist on the classic tale of the troubled lovers. It was nothing short of genius. 

 

The arrival of Moulin Rouge! Cemented him forever amongst the Hollywood elite. The sheer brilliance of mixing the soundtrack to a smart blend of the ’80s and ’90s against a backdrop of Paris in 1903 attests to Baz Luhrmann’s quirky brilliance. Not surprisingly, Moulin Rouge! Was nominated for Best Picture, Luhrmann’s only Academy Award nomination. Interestingly, at the same Academy Awards, he was snubbed for Best Director leading the show’s host Whoopi Goldberg to quip “I guess Moulin Rouge! just directed itself.” 

Stepping away from musicals, but keeping with the troubled lovers narrative, Baz Luhrmann partnered once again with his Moulin Rouge leading lady Nicole Kidman to deliver Australia. A love of letter of sorts to his home and Australia’s first people. He provided a porthole for the world to see elements and parts of Australia not often explored. 

 

Bring on another set of troubled lovers, the most epic party you’ve ever seen, complete with 3D filming, the most bopping soundtrack, and that my friends lead to 350 million US dollars at the box office. Please enter the stage… The Great Gatsby, Luhrmann’s most financially successful film to date.

 

The King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, will be interpreted and brought alive with Luhrmann’s magic in 2021 with a biopic currently in production on the Gold Coast. The mind boggles with costume possibilities, rhinestones and the musical genius and magic that is to come. 

Baz has become known for his lavish productions, over the top and opulent set designs and his love of heightened reality. 

All five of Luhrmann’s films have been inspired by Italian Grand Opera with a mixture of Old Hollywood Musicals and Bollywood movies thrown in.

So why, with only one Academy Award nomination, hasn’t he been more widely recognised from Hollywood? I’ll leave you to ponder that. 

 

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Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s the curse of Superman

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s the curse of Superman

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s the curse of Superman

words by Cassidy Krygger

Superman was faster than a speeding bullet and could walk through fire, but his Kryptonite was the supposed curse that befell him. 

Or at least the actors who played him. If you are one to believe in curses, the Superman Curse is probably one of the most famous in Hollywood. From career failures to illnesses, horrific injuries and untimely deaths, the Superman Curse has plagued most of the 20th-century actors that have played the Man of Steel as well as other actors and creatives involved in the Superman world.

The Superman curse can be traced back to the creators themselves, Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster, who created Superman in the 1930s. 

The pair were not fairly compensated for the creation of the character after selling the rights early on for only $130. Shuster’s career plummeted shortly after. By the 1950s, his eyesight began to deteriorate, forcing him out of the comic book game entirely and eventually became almost entirely blind.

Misfortune next befell George Reeves, who played Superman in the 1951 movie ‘Superman and the Mole Men and the television series ‘Adventures of Superman.’ 

Because of typecasting, Reeves found it hard to get any other acting work, and on June 16 1959, Reeves was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head. The death was ruled a suicide despite the fact fingerprints were never found on the weapon that killed him, generating rumours and conspiracy theories that foul play was involved. He was just 45.

But the Superman Curse took hold with Christopher Reeve, who made us believe that man could fly. 

He rose to fame in the 1978 Superman film of the same name as well as it three sequels. Tragedy struck in 1995 when he was paralyzed from the neck down after being thrown from his horse. He died in 2004 from a medical condition stemming from his accident. His wife, Dana Reeve died two years later at the age of 44 from lung cancer.

Lee Quigley was cast as baby Superman at the age of seven months, appearing alongside Marlon Brando as his baby son Kal-El in the 1978 Superman movie. 

He would become the youngest actor ever to play Superman and would be his only film role. He sadly died at the young age of 14 in 1991 of solvent abuse.

But it’s not just the men that played Superman that were hit with the curse. Richard Pryor who played a computer hacker in Superman III lit himself on fire during a drug binge and later developed Multiple Sclerosis. Margot Kidder who played Lois Lane in the same series went on to suffer from Bipolar Disorder and addiction. She committed suicide in 2018.

If there was ever a Superman curse, it seems to be broken. Brandon Routh, Tom Welling and Henry Cavill have all played the men in blue tights since the beginning of the 21st century without an issue.

This could be one of the greatest Hollywood Hogwash conspiracy theories or perhaps there is an inkling of truth to it. You decide. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lucille Ball -More Than Just A Funny Face

Lucille Ball -More Than Just A Funny Face

Lucille Ball - more than just a Funny Face

by Ponderings Radio

Lucille Ball -More Than Just A Funny Face

Words by Cassidy Krygger

Who doesn’t love Lucy?

One of the most recognized and beloved female comedians of all time, with her famous red hair and hilarious antics that captivated audiences and changed the face of television forever. Lucy was a trailblazer in smashing the glass ceilings of her time.

Lucille Desiree Ball was born on August 6, 1911, in New York.

She had a childhood of tragedy and hardship with her father passing away when she was just three years old; her mother went on to marry a man who was not fond of children and left her and her brother Fred to be raised by her new husband’s parents. In her teenage years, Lucy discovered a passion for performing, and in her early twenties, she moved to Hollywood to pursue a career in the movies.

After years of steady film work but failing to advance her movie career past minor roles, in the late 1940s Lucy began to work freelance and star in radio programs.

Catching the eye (or ear) of television executives, they offered her a chance to bring one of her more successful radio shows, My Favourite Husband to the small screen. She saw this as an excellent opportunity to work with her new husband, Cuban musician and actor Desi Arnaz. And I Love Lucy was born. From the beginning, Lucy and Desi were in control. They insisted that the show was filmed in Hollywood and recorded on film instead of the cheaper and usual option for television, kinescope. Taking a pay cut to ensure they would receive full rights to the show, Lucy and Desi began their production studio, Desilu Productions.

I Love Lucy debuted in 1951 and was a runaway smash hit.

Engaging in storylines and changing the perception of women on screen, Lucy was a woman in her 40s when she had her most significant success at a time when most successes in Hollywood didn’t happen to women past their 20s. She was also the first openly pregnant woman to show her pregnancy on screen. And when she gave birth to her son Desi Arnaz Jr in January 1953, her TV character also gave birth to Little Ricky on the same night with more than 40 million people tuning in. It went on to become one of the most publicized childbirths in American history.

After an unbeaten six-year run, the show ended and with that so did the twenty-year marriage of Lucy and Desi. Following the divorce, Lucy bought out Desi’s share in Desilu Productions, making her the first woman to run a major TV production studio in Hollywood.

Throughout the 1960s, the production company continued to churn out hit TV shows such as The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mission: Impossible and Star Trek.

She succeeded in making Desilu Productions  once again profitable after a slight decline and sold the company in 1967 to Paramount Pictures for $17 million ($128 million in 2018).

Lucy received thirteen Emmy nominations and four Emmy awards throughout her career,

a Kennedy Center Honor and in 1989 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Fearlessly brave, funny and a woman who wasn’t afraid to break the constraints of the 1950s gender prejudice, Lucy triumphed. Many of today’s comedians and actors still count Lucy as an influence on their work. Lucille passed away on April 26, 1989, leaving behind her two children and a body of work that still connects to us and makes us laugh today.

“I love Lucy was never just a title.” – Desi Arnaz

 

 

 

 

 

Wuthering Heathcliff

Wuthering Heathcliff

Cassidy Krygger

Cassidy Krygger

Hollywood Expert

Wuthering Heathcliff

Darkly menacing, untamable and with a hint of a savage.

What’s not to love about literary hero Heathcliff? He is misunderstood – deeply complicated and in need of that one person who truly loves and understands him — the exemplification of the bad boy who we all want to fix. There have been many dashing leading men who have taken on the hard task of playing him on stage and on screen over the years, but who was best?

Heathcliff is the romantic hero (or anti-hero) of the 1847 gothic novel, Wuthering Heights by author Emily Bronte. The classic book tells the passionate love story of Heathcliff and Cathy and the revenge Heathcliff brings to everyone surrounding him once he loses her. It was surprising that such an intense story could be born from the brain of a woman who never married and supposedly never had a lover.

Heathcliff’s TV and movie career aren’t as well-known as his fellow literary leading man Mr Darcy.

There have only been five well-known adaptations, but perhaps the most famous would have to be the 1939 classic starring Sir Laurence Olivier in the central role. This film is the most romanticized, probably to keep up with the biggest movie of that year – the romantic epic Gone with the Wind. The second half of the book is left out, which deals with Heathcliff’s more vengeful and tyrannical side, painting him as the victim of the story as opposed to the aggressor.

The closest to the novel and least romantic would be Tom Hardy’s famous portrayal in the 2009 mini-series. Kathryn Flett of The Guardian perfectly summed up Hardy’s Heathcliff as “…thoroughly dangerous to know in all the right ways, entirely capable of making even careworn middle-aged women rend their garments, tear their hair and head for the moors.”

My opinion? Olivier did it best. Because it is more romantic? Probably, I am a hopeless romantic at heart. It was my first taste of Wuthering Heights at a young and impressionable 16 years old, and I became one of the girls who fell in love with Heathcliff. And I blame Laurence Olivier for it.

If you are new to the world of  Wuthering Heights, I insist you read the book. It will be a bumpy ride, I assure you. And then I suggest you watch the 1939 movie before any other adaptation. Yes, it is different from the book, and if you are looking for a faithful retelling, this isn’t it. But I believe it is powerful enough to stand alone and to make you fall in love with the tyrant himself. Just don’t blame me if you do.

 

 

 

 

 

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