Daily Archives: July 5, 2012

Hobbit scans, More Last Ride Reviews, THR Last Ride Interview

Note: This is an archived entry that’s over two years old. While I have ensured that all photos are restored, some links may no longer work. If you encounter any dead links, let me know and I’ll try to find a copy of the material.

After a lot of delays caused by technical difficulties of various sorts, I have managed to scan Entertainment Weekly‘s recent Hobbit preview/cover story. Alas, there’s no new Hugo Weaving material in it (the set interviews were conducted last fall, when he was working on Cloud Atlas), just a cropped version of the pic EW and many other sites shared online. LOTR/Hobbit fans will want to take a look (if they haven’t already snapped up their own copy)… as usual, Peter Jackson and Ian McKellen provide some entertaining insights. And there’s a handy guide on how to tell the dwarves apart. 😉

Full, uncropped version of EW’s new Elrond pic

For slightly larger versions of these scans, go here.

Hugo’s recent interviews with Collider, THR and IFC continue to be reposted, quoted and repackaged in various ways online, but so far those are the only original interviews he’s given in support of Last Ride‘s US release (and, to a lesser but more-talked-about extent, Cloud Atlas and The Hobbit.) Frustratingly, though Last Ride is now in theaters in New York and Chicago, and available on Cable On Demand and via other Video On Demand services, IFC and THR continue to sit on the interviews Hugo gave specifically to promote it in favor of hyping films that don’t come out for months, and which he can only speak in broad terms about. (Of course they had a right to ask about these projects– who wouldn’t?– but he’ll be promoting them officially in a few months. Last Ride is out now, and is the one film of the three that really needs a strong word of mouth campaign from its star.) [UPDATE: THR must be tired of my bitching: they posted Hugo’s Last Ride interview even as I typed this up. 😉 It was well worth the wait– see below…]

But the better news is that Last Ride continues to be well-received in its limited arthouse release; today it received a positive notice   from The New York Times‘ notoriously hard- to- please Manohla Dargis. There were also glowing reviews on other sites which I’ll link to and excerpt below.

The American poster art for Last Ride

Manohla Dargis, The New York Times: The Australian actor Hugo Weaving has the kind of blockbuster credits and genre fame that can overshadow a performer’s range. He’s hitched rides in hits like “The Matrix” cycle (as Agent Smith) and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy (Elrond, an Elf-lord), in which he dominated his scenes with restrained intensity, slashing eyebrows and a voice that turns whispers into threats… There’s more to Mr. Weaving than a spooky voice, though, but you need to look into the quieter corners of the movie world for the fuller picture….The screenwriter Mac Gudgeon, working from a novel by Denise Young, fills out the story with natural-sounding stop-and-go conversations, traded jokes, informational exchanges and the like rather than conspicuously expository passages. The two main characters talk rather than slog or sift through their feelings. This strengthens the realism, particularly because Kev is fairly laconic, and Chook isn’t especially chatty…Shooting in wide screen [Glendyn] Ivin tends to switch back and forth between intimate images of Kev and Chook and long shots of them enveloped by the harshly beautiful landscape, suggestively toggling between man and nature…Mr. Weaving turns the film’s silences into brooding and threatening lulls, and he matches Kev’s quieter moments with gestures that are similarly controlled until they’re abruptly not. This restraint draws you closer to Kev — he seems like an enigma worth exploring — even as he then repulses you with his violence, including toward Chook. Kev is mean and often frightening, a volcano on the verge of inundating everything within distance. But what Mr. Weaving and Mr. Ivin never lose sight of is that Kev is Chook’s father. The boy loves Kev and wants to be loved by him, which is crucial to the story’s emotional stakes. ”

Mark Jenkins, NPR: “Hugo Weaving, best known for The Matrix and the Lord of the Rings trilogies, brings subtlety and poignance to the hoodlum’s mercurial character. Kev can do good when he takes time to think; that just doesn’t happen very often….Weaving is well matched by Tom Russell, making his screen debut as Chook, the boy who at first doesn’t understand that this excursion with his dad is actually a run from the law. Chook is confused and overwhelmed, but Russell conveys an inner strength that makes plausible the kid’s gradual shift toward independence… While we watch Kev and Chook run from the law, the southern Australian landscape becomes a character of its own….Adapted from Denise Young’s novel by screenwriter Mac Gudgeon, Last Ride is neatly structured. Events are carefully foreshadowed, and the flashbacks fill in the story without clogging it; this is primarily a character study, not an exercise in narrative acrobatics.”

Meagan Lehmann, Film Journal:  “A tour-de-force turn from the persistently terrific Hugo Weaving lights a fuse under Last Ride, a spare and wrenching road movie delving into the complexities of a fraught father-son relationship. Against all odds, Weaving gives his violent career criminal, on the run from the law with his ten-year-old son, a touching humanity. Coupled with a slow-burn narrative tension and some truly stunning location shots of the South Australian outback, his front-and-center performance makes this a journey worth taking….The debut feature from Glendyn Ivin, who won the Short Film Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2003 with Cracker Bag, feeds into a distinctly Australian mythology of the rambling man lost in a vast landscape. But its exploration of a troubled male psyche is universal.”

James van Maanen, TrustMovies: “As well played by Weaving, one of Australia’s finest actors, and the excellent young newcomer Tom Russell (below, who made this movie prior The Tree, which opened here one year ago), these two performances command our attention and at least a little of our good will, especially where young Russell’s character is concerned…Kev (Weaving) and Chook (Russell) encounter various folk, tell jokes (two out of three are pretty funny) and have some sweet moments along the way — which becomes all the sadder as we get a better understanding of how dark and problematic is the character of Kev.”

David Fear, Time Out New York: “Glendyn Ivin’s road movie has a knack for turning Aussie landscapes into characters, as well as a slow-burn sense of tension. If Last Ride leans heavily on fugitive-life lyricism, it benefits from an incredible father-son chemistry between Weaving and Russell—one that makes the movie’s inexorable drive toward tragedy that much more gut-wrenching.”

Shannon M. Houston, Paste: “Last Ride accomplishes the difficult task of being a complete film with a fully explored storyline that is simultaneously enveloped in mystery. Eerie and strange, and unwilling to produce concrete answers to every question, it leaves the viewer with an unabating interest in the characters and the traditional (yet unconventional) father/son dynamic at work…With an outstanding performance from Weaving and impressive work from his young co-star, Last Ride participates in a grand narrative of films concerned with the unique relationship between a man and his boy. As Chook takes on (and tries to rectify) the sins of his father, we are reminded of similarly complex relationships in last year’s The Tree Of Life, this year’s Boy, and the countless other films where a seemingly bad father tries to raise a good son—and, in doing so, redeems himself.”

For Video On Demand info on Last Ride (and venues, dates, etc as they’re added) check out Music Box Films’ Last Ride page.

Hugo Weaving and Last Ride novelist Denise Young on the film’s set, 2008 (Yes, she visited the set the day the love scene was filmed. No idea if this was intentional, heh heh.) Fans of the film should read the novel, by the way. It’s told in a different way and ends differently, but the essence of the story– and the emotional crux of Chook’s decision– are intact.

I’m thrilled to report THR has finally posted Hugo’s lengthy Last Ride promotional interview. I’m too happy and relieved to condense or excerpt the thing, so here it is in glorious entirety:

6:05 PM PDT 7/5/2012 by Todd Gilchrist

Weaving spoke to The Hollywood Reporter last week via telephone to talk about Last Ride, where he plays a troubled father named Kev who absconds with his son and takes a dangerous trek across the Australian Outback. In addition to discussing his initial interest in the role, Weaving talks about his collaboration with newcomer Tom Russell, who plays his onscreen son, and examines the appeal of films that tackle complex and sometimes difficult-to-watch subject matter.

The Hollywood Reporter: When you look at all of the work you’re going to have to do in a movie like this, what’s your initial reaction – excitement or trepidation?

Hugo Weaving: That’s an interesting question because in a way it doesn’t feel like an effort, but the thing that appealed to me about that character was that he was very compromised. He had an appalling childhood himself, his background, and I’d read the book and I just wanted to work on a small-budget film and with a really talented film director whose short film I’d seen that won an award at Cannes. I really wanted to work with Glendyn [Ivin], and the script moved me and I could see there was a massive contrast between the subject of the story, which was a relationship between a father and a son, and the brutality of the landscape and the interaction of the father and son and some of the other characters in the film. And so it was all of those complexities together that excited me – the more compromised the character is, the more complexities the story has, I’ll jump in and say “yes” to it immediately. Then I think, “Oh my God – I’ve got a lot of work to do.” But that tends to excite me rather than daunt me – and then it’s just trying to spend whatever time you’ve got between first reading the script and production and trying to bring about some kind of internal combination and create a character. And that was an exciting process – it was a real joy to do, actually.

THR: Because I imagine you get a lot of offers to play villainous characters, how much do you think about what roles you’ve played in the past – or even just recently – when choosing to take on a new one that might be perceived as similar?

Weaving: I try and sort of vary what I do as much as possible, but it’s a little bit dependent on what’s out there and what’s offered – and I don’t say yes to everything. But I try to get back to the theatre every year, and to work on small-budget film like Last Ride, that would be my first choice, to do something like that, and then do some theatre, and then if possible, do something completely different like Cloud Atlas which is coming out at the end of the year, which is a huge-budget science fiction film we shot in Germany.

THR: How difficult was it to fall into the rhythm of a relationship with the young actor who plays your son in the film, especially since you relate to one another in some dramatic ways?

Weaving: We met up in Sydney. Glendyn, Tom [Russell] and I came up and we spent two or three days up in a room, the three of us just talking and having fun and eating and just getting to know each other, and filming little bits and rehearsing. And it was just a matter of getting to know each other, and making Tom feel like he was safe, that I wasn’t actually like Kev and I wouldn’t actually beat and bash him. But he was a young kid who was just very present, and whenever the camera’s on him, whatever he’s doing is interesting, and the thing with him at that age was just keeping him interested and keeping his mind focused. And it’s quite hard to do that through a long shooting day, but Glendyn had a great relationship with Tom and I did too, so he was supported by the whole crew and his parents were on board most of the time. So they were with us on the journey through the Outback, and he’s a remarkable boy and I think he did a great job. But no, Glendyn’s skill at dealing with him in a relaxed way I think was the key to the performance, really.

THR: Actors seem to have different opinions on how best to play characters that are difficult to sympathize with. How tough is it to tap into the humanity in a character like Kev that will help you and/or the audience identify with him even if they don’t like him?

Weaving: I’ve always found that people, even if they’re quite bleak or unlikeable characters and it’s hard to sympathize with them, if you give some sense that they’ve been damaged as a child or why they are the way that they are, to think about that even for a few seconds, that’s enough for me to reserve judgment about them rather than saying, “I didn’t like that film because that character was so awful.” But there’s something, not an explanation but something to hinge that character on, who’s doing things as best they can given their background and their upbringing and the things they’re battling against. And I think that’s what’s interesting in the film, really, that it is about love and it is about the secure relationship between father and son, and yet, you know that he’s violent and you know that he’s making all of the wrong decisions and you know he’s compounding the problem rather than alleviating it. But there’s something compelling about all of that, I think – that’s certainly what interested me in doing the film in the first place. The book’s a little different – he’s a little more of a loser in the book, and the ending’s a little different.

THR: How do you ultimately look at a film project like this one – is it a purely visceral experience, a meditative one, a metaphorical one? It offers a pretty unflinching portrait of a complex relationship.

Weaving: I think people will have their own reaction to it, but to me it was about, despite everything else, a story about love, actually, and I find that incredibly moving – that Kev loves Chuck and vice versa but they don’t necessarily express that in a way that someone we might expect that somebody would. But in many ways, Kev is a very repellent character, and violent, and you want Chuck to get away from him. But by the end of the film, it’s very clear that he’s his father and he wants to help him and he doesn’t want certain things to happen – but at the same time you’re aware that this isn’t going to end well. And I think that ending is quite bleak and harsh and sudden; you shouldn’t be in any doubt that there’s a strong love there, but it’s quite tragic, really. But everyone deals with this film in a different way, and the reception to the film in Australia was quite mixed – critically acclaimed by some people and utterly damned by other because they found it so bleak, saying we shouldn’t make films like this any more. So it depends on how you’re feeling, and what sort of film you’re into, your reaction will be quite different. But ultimately it’s a story of love and a particular relationship at a particular time and a particular place, despite all of the odds. And that’s what make it compelling to me.”