"Australia" splendor

There are moments in "Australia" that are as good as anything you'll see in a movie.

Sure, there are flaws. The movie is too long and sometimes too contrived. Snidely Whiplash would consider its villain overwrought.

But in its best moments, this film is stunning. Baz Luhrman has that directing touch, the ability to stun you visually and emotionally.

Catch the moment the cattle stampede into Darwin. Or the moment the boy sees "The Wizard of Oz." Or the "Oz"-themed return of the sailboat.

These are moments as good as anything in "Atonement" -- which is to say, as good as anything in recent years. Hugh Jackman is great, Nicole Kidman is fine and Australia itself is splendid. Catch the movie; just make sure you bring lots of patience and popcorn. 

Welcome, folks

Soon enough, there will be clever-type blogs here. For now, however, I just wanted to explain what's here.

Hit the "TV column" button on top and you'll find my columns for upcoming days. These are in several papers, from New Jersey to Cincinnati to Hawaii. There will be more; have fun and add your comments.

Eventually, I'll have to quit putting the columns here, because they'll be in too many papers. By then, however, I'll have lots of blogs -- and, I hope, your comments -- in place.