Monthly Archives: June 2013

Teaser Trailer for The Turning Debuts, Recent Hugo Weaving Print Articles

Note: this is an archived entry. Some links might not still work, but I have tried to ensure scan and video embeds are still in place. If any linked material is unavailable, please let me know and I’ll attempt to find a copy in my personal archives.

Things have quieted down a bit after all the Sydney Film Fest hubbub earlier in the month, but this likely won’t last long with The Turning opening next month. Hugo has been spotted in the Melbourne area recently, so I assume he’s working on The Mule, though that film’s Twitter feed isn’t giving anything away just yet. (They do love to tease us, though…)

But today’s big news is the official release of the teaser trailer for Tim Winton’s The Turning (the full title of the film). which features Hugo in a story entitled “Commission” (not “The Commission”, as previously reported.) David Wenham directs that segment. Cate Blanchett was previously slated to direct a different segment, but changed her mind– fans needn’t worry too much though, because she did so in order to focus on acting in the film. The trailer debuted on the Australian news broadcast Sunrise at Seven (you can see the footage on Yahoo 7), but an HD version soon appeared on the film’s Facebook page, and that’s the version I’ll try to embed here. It’s lovely and evocative without any spoilers. Hugo is seen briefly near the end.

(Apologies… LJ STILL won’t let me embed Facebook videos, and the film trailer isn’t yet available in HD on YouTube. That should change soon, but meantime here’s the Sunrise on Seven version. )

Here’s a look at the film’s new poster; I’ll add links for a larger version as soon as I find one.

More on The Turning at The Australian and SBS Film. The film will premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival next month; no specific screening times have yet been announced; a general Australian release for the film is likely to follow. No word on international distribution. The stellar cast guarantees it’ll probably get at least a VOD release worldwide, but the three-hour running time and compendium structure might limit its chances in cinemas. I’d really love to be wrong about that, though.

I’ve finally had time to prep a few more print articles for sharing; most are fairly recent, but one is a gift from the Sydney Film Festival archives. Below the cut you can read more about Hugo’s visit to STC’s The Maids, the Archibald Prizes, Proof’s SFF debut in 1991 and the controversial awards ceremony at this year’s SFF. The last article is an interesting piece on Indian films at SFF 2013 which features a few pics of Hugo with fellow juror Anand Gandhi (who directed his own “blind photographer movie”, Ship of Theseus) and Monsoon Shootout director Amit Kumar. The Indian Link article is an interesting read about the Indian film industry’s attempts to move beyond Bollywood stereotypes, and can be read as an eZine here… I fully admit my screenshots aren’t ideal. I couldn’t get the enlarged images to remain static on the screen for some reason.

Wentworth Courier, 19 June 2013

The Weekend Australian, 25 March 2013

It should go without saying that I disagree with their art critic in the strongest terms possible.

Sydney Morning Herald, 17 June 2013

Rocket did win the Audience Award at this year’s SFF, with Only God Forgives not even placing in the audience’s top five.

Sydney Film Festival Programme, 1991

Indian Link, June 2013

Interesting quote from Anand Gandhi: “I was just telling Hugo Weaving, my friend and co-jury member here [at SFF] that if we have the luxury and the leisure to dream and imagine and invent, we also have a responsibility to do something interesting and thoughtful.” This echoes Hugo’s frequent statements to the effect that acting, at its noblest, should attempt to elucidate or “illuminate” human nature. Makes their choice of SFF winner all the more baffling. 😉 Hugo has already “blurbed” Gandhi’s film Ship of Theseus, calling it “a beautiful and profoundly moving film.” (He hasn’t blurbed that other movie… or really said much about it at all, beyond the prepared statement read at the award ceremony.) Seems like two of the best films at this year’s festival were exempted from competition Gandhi and Weaving were jury members.

In other Hugo Weaving News:

You can read another positive review of Mystery Road at Vogue Australia. The film’s Facebook page reposted highlights of the Sydney Film Fest premiere photos (which I also posted here when they first ran.) Graffiti With Punctuation‘s Blake Howard included the film in his SFF highlights and posted a cute pic of himself with Hugo at the Mystery Road premiere June 5:

Peter Jackson is promising a new Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug production diary video any day now, but in the meantime you can check out new images from the set (of James Nesbitt and a gaggle of Dwarves) at Jackson’s Facebook page.  There’s also a charming video of Orlando Bloom, Lee Pace and Evangeline Lilly (in character) responding to an emotional fan video reacting to the first DOS trailer.  No word yet on when/whether Hugo Weaving will be required for additional pick-up shoots before the film finally wraps, or whether Elrond will be featured in all three films.

Finally Terence Stamp shares an amusing anecdote about Priscilla, Queen of the Desert in this Slant Magazine interview.

UPDATE: We now have an embeddable, HD version of the Turning trailer courtesy Madman Films, and a larger version of the poster. Both are beneath the cut:

New articles about The Turning and the new trailer are available at The Film StageMoviehole and A few of these reports contain minor errors, but I appreciate their enthusiasm for the film. Cate Blanchett decided to star in, rather than direct, her segment. She handed directing chores over to Simon Stone (according to The Australian.)   Careful scrutiny of the trailer and poster confirm this, but several crowd-sourced sites (including IMDb) still list Cate as a director, so it’s an understandable error.

Also, Empire Magazine’s August issue features a Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug-themed cover featuring Orlando Bloom (Legolas), Lee Pace (Thranduil) and Evangeline Lilly (Tauriel). I have no idea if there’s any Hugo content, but early word is that the second Hobbit films focuses on the Mirkwood elves, who have a different attitude and culture than those of Rivendell and Lothlorien. This may mean Hugo and Cate Blanchett won’t reappear until the final film, but nothing is certain. Hugo last spoke about The Hobbit while promoting Cloud Atlas last fall, at which time he’d just been informed there would be three films instead of two. He confirmed he was appearing in two movies then, but hasn’t yet filmed additional footage, though he might yet before Peter Jackson finally wraps production. Another possibility is that Jackson will spread previously-filmed Elrond scenes between the final two installments. Fans will probably turn up for all three films regardless of who’s in each.

And The Mule’s production team (and cast?) is now in Bangkok, Thailand. They posted some teasing city footage on Twitter/Instagram, but (of course) no specifics about filming or who might be required for location work.  😉

Sydney Film Fest Closing Ceremony Photos, Hugo Weaving & SFF Jury Audio Interview, The Commission

Note: this is an archived entry. Some links might not still work, but I have tried to ensure scan and video embeds are still in place. If any linked material is unavailable, please let me know and I’ll attempt to find a copy in my personal archives.

Just as I was lamenting the lack of photos of the June 16 Sydney Film Festival Closing Ceremony, our Sydney Correspondent Yvette has come though (again) with a nice set of images. She’s been working all week as a volunteer at the SFF and thus got passes for the closing night’s event. I have to say her pics are the best I’ve seen so far of the ceremony… curiously, no official press photos seem to have been taken. But I always appreciate the “fan’s eye view” just as much. These are large, so they’ll be under the cut.

L to R: SFF jurors  Paolo Bertolin, Anand Gandhi, Pia Marais, Kath Shelper, Hugo Weaving

Hugo presents the main competition award to Nick Hayes, accepting on behalf of Nicolas Winding Refn

The SFF jury and winner      Photo: Fred Film Radio

An audio interview from the SFF awards ceremony earlier that day has just surfaced, courtesy Fred Film Radio.  It’s slightly more elucidating on the subject of the voting process and controversial result. Hugo keeps his personal opinions close to the vest, though; interestingly, he says nothing when a journalist asks if the jurors recommend the film. At that point, the two women on the jury become very vocal and effusive. Methinks the Ryan Gosling effect might be at play here… yes, I have seen it in serious film critics before. Mostly female. Though a few male too. 😉 I myself am curiously immune to that particular actor’s alleged charms, but my main reservations with Only God Forgives are with the director, who steals Hong Kong and Korean revenge-thriller tropes but avoids the depth and meaning that the best of those Asian films share. I do think the SFF judging criteria, presumably not invented by this particular jury, are a bit vapid, and might have hindered the selection process. Any rank amateur can be “audacious” or “cutting edge”, but being lastingly good is something else altogether.

I found the comments to the effect that the winning film deserves the award more because its violence might limit its audience to be a bit clueless– maybe because I’m American, and our movies tend to be spectacularly violent. Even recent superhero films inevitably feature thousands of deaths and citywide carnage… and those are the kid-friendly PG-13 films. 😉 Hard-R violent thrillers rake in hundreds of millions as well. It’s the less visceral, more thoughtful films that have a harder time getting a look-in at the box office. I’m sure this film will have no problem getting wide distribution worldwide. I do want to emphasize that it’s not the violence per say that I object to in Refn’s work, but it’s derivative emptiness. When critics use words like “hypnotic” to describe films like this, I have to wonder if they aren’t being a bit too literal. I’ve seen thousands of movies allm over the ratings spectrum and have never been particularly squeamish. I don’t worry that films like this might shock me… I have to care about the characters and their plight before anything they do (or that’s done to them) could disturb me. Park Chanwook’s films, at their best, are stylized and extremely violent, but he bothers to ground any outlandishness with relatable characters and profoundly human dilemmas. Refn reminds me more of that Monty Python sketch parodying Sam Peckinpah where a director known for “stylishly violent” films lovingly describes how he’d like the fountain of blood to spurt ‘just so’ when a character meets his demise. If I’m paying undue attention to the cinematography or lighting at such moments, clearly the film isn’t really visceral in any meaningful way. 😉 And if the artfully choreographed blood fountains start taking on a drinking game frequency, I tend to giggle more than gasp.

Sorry. Got carried away there. I do have a pet peeve with festivals favoring style over substance. Refreshingly, the Aussie press seems to (mostly) be with me on this one. American critics will probably beg to differ. And I should again emphasize that Hugo hasn’t said he loved or hated the film. I suspect from his carefully worded statements that he respects it more than loves it, and deferred to the majority and judging criteria. His tastes are thoughtful and varied enough to respect a wide variety of what’s broadly considered “arthouse” fare. He does reiterate his preference for independent, “human level” filmmaking in the audio interview, for films he wants to act in or to see. But if you look at just the list of Hugo’s 2013-14 Australian films, there’s a lot of diversity. I suspect The Mule is nothing like The Turning, which is nothing like Mystery Road or Healing. Ideally, they’ll all be entertaining. Certainly there’s something for everyone.

Speaking of The Turning, our first still from David Wenham’s short “The Commission”, starring Hugo, debuted on the film’s Twitter feed and Facebook page yesterday. It’s cryptic but elegant…

“I just hung on in there until there was nothing left of me”…’Commission’, directed by David Wenham, The Turning.

There’s a larger version of the image here.

And they are promising a trailer soon.  😉

UPDATE: The Sydney Film Festival Facebook page has now posted dozens of new images from the June 16 awards presentation, closing ceremony and final film premiere. I’ll add all of those featuring Hugo below:

Hugo at the awards presentation announcement the afternoon of June 16

Hugo Weaving and Festival Director Nashen Moodley

L to R: Paolo Bertolin, Anand Gandhi, Pia Marais, Nick Hayes, Hugo Weaving, Kath Shelper, Nashen Moodley

More Swag Display For The Sponsors 😉

Hugo and Pia Marais at the final night premiere of 20 Feet From Stardom

Awards presentations at the closing ceremony

Fan photo of Hugo at the Twenty Feet From Stardom closing night premiere:

Photo: Susanne Gervay. For a larger version of this image, go to Gervay’s blog

Final Round of Sydney Film Festival Pics, Hugo Weaving And Glendyn Ivin Plan Second Project

Note: this is an archived entry. Some links might not still work, but I have tried to ensure scan and video embeds are still in place. If any linked material is unavailable, please let me know and I’ll attempt to find a copy in my personal archives.

It’s been a fun week following the Sydney Film Festival remotely, but all good things must end. The festival closed today on a somewhat controversial note, with a film that divided the jury getting the top prize. Images from the awards ceremony are just starting to roll in, and ideally we’ll have some video footage too at some point. The competition field was full of worthy contenders, but I’m afraid I’d have to agree with Sydney Morning Herald critic Garry Maddox’s assertion that the winner “wasn’t in my top 11  of the 12 films in the competition”. 😉 (Technically I can’t say Only God Forgives was the worst of the twelve, as several competition films haven’t yet been released over here, but given how amateurishly pretentious Nicolas Winding Refn’s previous films have been, it’s a good guess.)

However, Hugo shouldn’t take full credit or blame for the winner– he himself acknowledged that the winning film “will polarise opinion as it polarised ours”.* He also conceded that it took much longer than expected (six and a half hours) for the jury to reach consensus: “I’m not very good at cracking the whip, so we kind of went over by about two and a half hours…[This was a a group of] very diverse and strong films. It was a very honest and free ranging debate with good humour and also a lot of passion. It probably wasn’t too difficult to cut the 12 down to six (but) we basically debated about a couple of films for quite some time.” (As quoted in The Australian.)

Critics and festivalgoers who loved– and who loathed– the winning film Only God Forgives are suggesting that since Hugo was the most famous jury member and the president/spokesman that his must have been the decisive vote, but I wouldn’t assume that. Hugo’s conciliatory nature is part of the reason he’s so beloved in the Australian film industry, and he does have a record of being talked into decisions… some good (he turned down The Matrix twice before reading the script and changing his mind) and some not-so-good (even Hugo can’t really explain why he did the Transformers voiceovers. He talks about the experience as if it was something that he accidentally stumbled into without fully understanding it.) More tellingly, director Rowan Woods (Little Fish) describes getting Hugo to change his vote on a previous awards panel where the two first met in this Australian Vogue interview. I found the wording of Hugo’s statement about the award-winning film interesting, but it’s impossible to say whether he was implying his own misgivings or acknowledging those of another jury member or members. (Some news sources say Hugo’s statement in giving the award was his own, others that he read something on behalf of the jury… so again, it’s unfair to be too definitive. The remarks about the decision process were definitely his.)

The Australian press has reflected the divided opinion about the winner, with some praising the choice as crowdpleasing, and others suggesting it was motivated by commercial rather than artistic interests. You can read more at International News/AAP, The Sun-Herald, The Australian, Inside Film, The Sydney Morning Herald, Urban Cinefile and Pedestrian TV. The winning film already has wide international distribution, so at least viewers can decide for themselves what they think, if this is the sort of film they’d see. Interestingly, the SFF’s judging criteria was “[Films that have] emotional power and resonance; are audacious, cutting-edge, courageous; and go beyond the usual treatment of the subject matter”.  Quality isn’t mentioned, and this list would tend to value theatrical, visceral and shocking films above quieter, subtle ones. I also think to some extent that it’s the job of film festivals to raise the profiles of films that might lack wide distribution and international attention rather than to foist more attention on films already destined to receive it, but most film festivals no longer do this, at least when it comes to distributing awards. But I did learn about some fascinating films I hadn’t previously discovered through covering SFF, so on the whole it did its job. I would like to see an individual polling of the jury members though. 😉

[* According to AAP, the full awards announcement Hugo read went as follows: “After 10 days of captivating and diverse film viewing and passionate conversations, the jury arrived at a majority decision. In the true spirit of the Competition criteria, we award a visually mesmerizing and disturbing film, which polarised our opinions. The winner of the Sydney Film Prize is Only God Forgives.”]

The official closing ceremony, which awards other festival prizes, is currently underway and Hugo is definitely on hand, so I’ll add any new images as they roll in. Let’s at least try to keep things chronological…

Forgot to say Hugo Weaving #SydFilmFest judge, kicked me out of my seat last night, alright his seat! #highlight” Erin M. McCuskey, via Twitter

The first 5 are from the Sydney Film Festival Facebook page:

Hugo Weaving, fellow juror Anand Gandhi and Festival Director Nashen Moodley at the premiere of Gandhi’s film Ship of Theseus, June 11 (It’s about a blind photographer, but is NOT an Indian remake of Proof.) 😉

Hugo Weaving and Amit Kumar at the premiere of Kumar’s film Monsoon Shootout, June 11

Pia Marais, Kath Shelper, Jan Ole Gerster, Hugo Weaving and Anand Gandhi at the SFF premiere of Gerster’s film Oh Boy, June 12

Some photos from the June 16 Festival Competition Awards Ceremony:

Jurors Paolo Bertolin, Pia Marais, Hugo Weaving, Kath Shelper and Anand Gandhi with Nick Hayes (center, next to Hugo) who accepted on behalf of absent director Nicolas Winding Refn   Photo: The AU Review via Twitter/Instagram

Hugo announces the winner  Photo: Ed Gibbs via Twitter

The SFF Jury, amid lengthy negotiations (and swag collection) 😉  Photo: Cardinal Spin, via Twitter

The SFF Jury and winner-surrogate pose before the Sydney Opera House  Photo: Richard Milnes/Demotix (plus next 11

More Shameless Swag Display 😉 (the watches are from a festival sponsor)

“I guess they don’t know that I never wear watches”. 😉

The award’s hypno-wheel look sorta goes with the awards criteria. 😉

Some initial photos of the Closing Ceremony:

Hugo is at the lectern, jury to left   Photo: Empire Australia via Twitter

Photo: Lina Mbirkou via Twitter

Photo: Luke Buckmaster, via Twitter

I’ll add more images as they appear; my thanks to everyone who posted photos. In spite of my misgivings about the main winner it looks to have been a wonderful film festival.

Here’s a new pic of Hugo and fellow SFF juror Pia Marais at the SFF closing film premiere, 20 Feet from Stardom

Photo: Richard Milnes/Demotix

On an even more wonderful note, I got some official confirmation that Hugo Weaving and Last Ride director Glendyn Ivin are planning another project together… from Ivin himself, no less.  I managed the gumption to ask if he and Hugo might work together again during a live-tweeting event yesterday to coincide with SBS TV’s airing of Last Ride. For the record, I didn’t try to tweet while watching the film, and don’t personally mix tweeting with other activities. To their eternal credit, Ivin and several viewers agreed the film–ANY good film– deserves one’s full attention. I do have two copies of the DVD and the film is also available via Netflix streaming. 😉 But the fact SBS added commercials (another element laudably mocked by those live-tweeting) gave people a chance to take a break and ask questions. I retweeted the full, two-hour exchange, which should appear on my personal LJ cross-post soon. (Unfortunately, LJ auto-posted right in the middle of the event, so the tweets are spread over two entries; part one is here, part two here. Or you can just scroll down my Twitter feed to yesterday.) There wasn’t a huge crowd “in attendance”, but all on hand were intelligent, witty and entertaining, and there was a refreshing lack of stupid questions/comments. Yes, on Twitter. 😉 Quasi-miraculous, but goes to show you what the right film can inspire.

Since I get nervous in the presence (even the virtual-presence) of artists I admire, I waited a full hour to see if someone else would ask my question, but since no one did, I went ahead. Ivin answered within a few minutes, as he did almost all questions asked. The exchange went as follows:


Hugo Weaving called Last Ride 1 of his 2 best films he’s made in past 10 yrs. I agree. Any chance of reteaming?

Hugo Weaving and I have another film in the pipeline…! Can’t wait. Making Last Ride with him was a joy

You’ve just made me very, very happy. Also, you’ve made me a raging fan with Last Ride. And Paul Charlier too.

That Marcus guy was hilarious for the duration, but also noticed details in the film even the director hadn’t. The full live-tweet session is worth reading if you have time… it was great “company” to be in.   Since no official announcements have been made about what Ivin has in mind for his next project with Hugo, I can’t speculate further, but this is the best Hugo News I’ve had in ages. I know that the process of securing funding and getting projects greenlighted can be tortuous in Australia, so this one might take time (just ask Craig Monahan, who waited seven years between Healing’s announcement and its actual filming), but Ivin has won a devoted following and awards for Last Ride and his television work (Puberty Blues, Beaconsfield) … and I don’t think he’d let us in on plans if he didn’t have some notion of how to achieve them. Ivin is the only director of Hugo’s that I’ve actually met in the sense we exchanged words (though I attended premieres where the Wachowskis (Cloud Atlas) and Jim Loach (Oranges & Sunshine) were in attendance– crowds were too thick to approach them.)

I met Ivin at the 2011 MoMA screening/unofficial US premiere of Last Ride. He enthused about how much he enjoyed working with Hugo. Later that summer, I had Hugo sign my Last Ride DVD slipcase after a performance of Uncle Vanya at Kennedy Center, and he was similarly effusive. (“You’ve met Glendyn Ivin? Oh, he’s a lovely man.”) And I was absolutely sincere in saying Last Ride is one of Hugo’s best two performances of the past ten years. (I paraphrased Hugo slightly to fit a tweet: he actually said that Last Ride and Little Fish were his favorite experiences working on films in the past ten years, and the performances he worked hardest to achieve.) So the idea of them collaborating again on anything is the fulfillment of one of my fondest wishes. And it’ll be something to look forward to hearing more about as details become official. Meanwhile, Hugo has The Turning premiering in a month at the Melbourne International Film Festival, The Mule currently filming (though I assume Hugo hasn’t reported to the set, as, unlike his most famous character, he can’t actually be in two places at once), Mystery Road premiering in Australia in August and the US next year, the second Hobbit movie out in December (when Hugo will be costarring in Waiting for Godot with Richard Roxburgh for the STC)… and Healing debuting early next year. Exhausting just to read that off.

Anyhow, I’ll post this entry and amend with extra photos (and video if we’re lucky) as needed.

SFF/Mystery Road Updates and Candids, The Maids, Updates on The Turning, No Budget, The Hobbit

Note: this is an archived entry. Some links might not still work, but I have tried to ensure scan and video embeds are still in place. If any linked material is unavailable, please let me know and I’ll attempt to find a copy in my personal archives.

Hugo has turned up in more red carpet photos from the Sydney Film Festival this year than usual– no doubt due to his official position this time around. (He typically poses with the other three members of the SFF Jury.) Of course he’s always been spotted and occasionally photographed in years past, even when he didn’t have a film there to promote. I’ll post the most recent SFF photos under a cut because they’re nice and large– in general, the SFF Facebook staff have done a wonderful job promoting the films and providing a sense of the atmosphere there, for those of us who aren’t lucky enough to be around.

But first, some photographic confirmation of rumors from a couple of days ago, ie that Hugo did indeed take a night off from SFF Jury Duty on the 8th to take in a performance of The Maids, starring Cate Blanchett and Isabelle Huppert at Sydney’s Wharf Theatre. He and partner Katrina posed for a picture, a did he and Cate’s Uncle Vanya costar Jacki Weaver.  The play has received stellar reviews and demonstrates that Blanchett still takes her biggest, most fascinating risks as an artist onstage rather than in films. (Though I hope her forthcoming role in Woody Allen’s latest opus is a break from the shrewish villain roles she’s been dealt in Hollywood product in the past couple of years.) The play is a psychological thriller with class-conscious and sexual elements written by existentialist Jean Genet. Isabelle Huppert is one of the few actresses who could match Blanchett in this genre, so I’d love to see this production tour. (And someone needs to get the STC to film and simulcast productions like the RSC and Met Opera do… think of the revenue they could bring in! I know I’d subscribe to a season package if I could.)

Anyhow… the Sydney Morning Herald posted pics of the Maids’ more famous guests (alas, none posed with the actresses themselves) while slightly larger versions appeared in the print version.

Photo: Steve Lunham/Sydney Morning Herald

Mystery Road Promotion/SFF Candids

Ivan Sen has continued promoting Mystery Road at the Sydney Film Festival; he and producer David Jowsey participated in a Q&A on June 8 (not filmed, alas) and SBS posted a nice 7 minute interview/preview with Sen, which features a few new snippets of the film (no new Hugo footage, alas, but some interesting hints about the film’s look and internal tensions). If you’re curious about other films showing at the Sydney Film Festival, SBS has a comprehensive selection of director interviews and profiles.

David Jowsey, Ivan Sen and Sydney Morning Herald writer Garry Maddox at the SFF Q&A for Mystery Road (Photo: SFF Facebook page)

A new photo of Hugo at the Mystery Road premiere, 5 June   Photo: Cool Events Australia Facebook

The SFF Jury: Paolo Bertolin, Kath Shelper, Hugo Weaving, Anand Gandhi, Pia Marais with  festival director Nashen Moodley on 10 June (this and all subsequent photos: SFF Facebook)

Obviously amused by something… 😉

The SFF Jury with director Paul Wright, at the premiere of Wright’s film For Those in Peril

Hugo was also spotted at a screening of the Indian film Monsoon Shootout earlier today.

The Turning

A few tantalizing photos have begun appearing from Hugo’s next film to premiere, Tim Winton’s The Turning, via the film’s Facebook page and Twitter feed. So far no glimpses of the Wenham/Weaving short “The Commission” have appeared, nor have specific screening dates been announced. (The Melbourne International Film Festival website promises their full schedule will be announced early next month.) But if the scans I posted of the David Wenham profile in the last entry keep causing your browser to stall out, The Australian has finally posted the text part of the piece (and a few of the photos) online. This remains the most informative tease about The Turning thusfar. FilmInk also highlighted the film in its preview of next month’s Melbourne International Film Festival.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Hard to believe, but we’ve already reached the halfway point between the first two installments of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy… as the director and cast continue shooting additional footage in New Zealand, the first promo poster has been issued, and a teaser trailer is promised for June 11 (ie later today) at noon EDT. I’ll embed it here as soon as it’s available. No, still no production videos from the set (yet) or news about Hugo’s further involvement.


Here’s the brand new Desolation of Smaug teaser. Elrond doesn’t appear, but Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Thranduil (Lee Pace) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) get a substantial amount of footage… also, our first real look at the titular critter.  Looks like an upgrade of the dragon in Dragonslayer. 😉

No Budget

The short film No Budget, directed by Christopher Stollery, which features cameos by Hugo Weaving and David Wenham, will have its international premiere at The Palm Springs ShortFest. This particular festival features an unusually star-studded lineup, with short films featuring contributions from Cate Blanchett (A Cautionary Tale), Ian McKellen (The Egg Trick), Rachel Griffiths (Butterflies) and many others. For more info, check out Screen Daily as well as the ShortFest website. Alas, though the site offers streaming versions of some short films, none are those mentioned above. But the international exposure does bode well for an official online or DVD release for No Budget in the future. No Budget will screen as part of ShortFest’s Up From Down Under program of Australian shorts on June 22 at 5.30. I’d go, but I’m on the wrong coast… hope some of you are more ideally situated. 😉

The Mule

Though there have been no official news updates on Hugo’s next project to shoot, the filmmakers have posted a lot of amusing tomfoolery (all of it guaranteed 100% spoiler-free) on their Twitter feed. A sample below:

“Day 9: Behind the scenes on The Mule…Literally.”   Photo: via @themulemovie (Twitter/Instagram)

Del Kathryn Barton Hugo Portrait

Finally, Australian fans will have another chance to have a look at the Archibald Prize winning Hugo Weaving portrait as the full Archibald Prizes exhibit travels to The Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery in Victoria, where it will remain on display through July 7 before the Hugo portrait returns to Sydney (or Hunter Valley?) for a permanent exhibition in The Weaving Household.  More info about the new exhibit in Pieces of Victoria; more on Barton and her work in The Global Panorama.

Mystery Road Webpage Debuts, Sydney Film Festival Continues, New Hugo Weaving Photos

Note: this is an archived entry. Some links might not still work, but I have tried to ensure scan and video embeds are still in place. If any linked material is unavailable, please let me know and I’ll attempt to find a copy in my personal archives.

The Sydney Film Festival continues, as do Hugo Weaving sightings as Hugo sets aside promotional duties and gets down to film viewing in his role as Jury President. (Most years he’s “merely” doing so as an enthusiastic film fan.) 😉 So far he’s been spotted at screenings of three very different films: the Park Chanwook gothic thriller Stoker, the Indonesian war atrocity doc The Act of Killing, and Wadjda, which is the first film made in Saudi Arabia by a female director. I can’t say which of these he saw because they’re official festival selections and which he would’ve seen anyhow, or what he thought of them… In the past I might’ve said such matters are none of my business, but recently Hugo has taken to blurbing various Australian films, and almost always mentions a few recent favorites in recent interviews, so it’s not a subject he considers off limits. That and he has the power to hand out prestigious awards this time around. 😉 I suspect two of the above films are potent, provocative viewing while this other is an unabashed guilty pleasure. I’ll let you guess which are which. (Yes, I’d love to see Hugo work with Park Chanwook. Ideally in a Korean film. And not JUST because it’d shut up all those pedants still complaining about Boardman Mephi in Cloud Atlas.) 😉

But enough speculation, on to the news updates. Mystery Road’s new webpage went live yesterday, as did its Twitter feed, to go along with the Facebook page that’s been up for several months. Ivan Sen and David Jowsey’s promotion continues to be wonderfully laconic and understated. You can download a press kit and a passel of wonderful, sepia-tinged stills from the film from the site. Though the webpage synopsis gives the minimum away, the press kit goes into a bit more detail, though only minor plot spoilers. (Nothing on the scale of Little Fish or The Tender Hook, both of which had full plot synopses– including character deaths and ending spoilers– revealed on their production companies’ websites AS THE FILMS WERE BEING SHOT. Yes, seriously!) This reminds me a lot more of the promotion for Last Ride, which was first-rate, though that film didn’t get the wide international distribution it deserved. Mystery Road will almost certainly fare better, as it’s already found a US distributor with plans to open the film a few months after its Australian run.

Here are the webpage stills featuring Hugo:

Hugo Weaving as Johnno, Damian Walsh-Howling as Wayne

Hugo Weaving as Johnno, Tony Barry as Sergeant

Here are the latest photos from the Sydney Film Festival:

Hugo Weaving, Pia Marais, Kath Shelper and Paolo Bertolin (the SFF Jury) pose with Saudi director Haifaa al-Mansour (center) at the June 7 screening of her film Wadjda  Photo: SFF Facebook page

Hugo with Haifaa al-Mansour (center) , Kath Shelper (right) and SFF Director Nashen Moodley (far left) at the Wadjda premiere  Photo: Hopscotch Films Facebook page

And I’ve officially begun calling the “double denim” look “The Weaving Tuxedo”. And I don’t wanna hear any fashion snobs sayin’ nothin’ about that. 😉

Hugo poses with fan/fellow festivalgoer Hannah  (@Hannacramb via Twitter)

Another photo of Hugo with Stephanie Langridge in designer Natalie Chapman’s SFF flag dress  Photo: SFF Facebook page

There’s also an entertaining YouTube video about the making of that dress, and the mileage it got on the Mystery Road red carpet:

There are several seconds of Hugo footage starting at 1.30… also love the creative repurposing, and the fact that Ms Chapman chose a model with a va-va-voomy figure rather than one of those standard issue catwalk coat-racks. 😉

And here’s an older one, a great photo from last November’s Wellington Hobbit premiere that I hadn’t seen before:

Photo: dandireyes via Flickr… larger version here

I’ll augment the photo section as more new images appear. There are a few of new reviews as well: two very positive, one more mixed.

Blake Howard, Graffiti With Punctuation: “[Ivan] Sen and star [Aaron] Pedersen have crafted a pitch perfect indigneous noir detective mixed with soul for the modern western (No Country for Old Men, Red Hill). It’s finally a role that Pederesen (Water Rats, East West 101, MDA, City Homicide) has been able to truly shine in. The stoicism and resolve that Pedersen’s Swan outwardly displays does have its cracks; and it’s in those peeks into his soul that he’s even more impressive. As he’s driving through the maze like streets, his eyes confess his internal turmoil to the open road.

The supporting cast does a phenomenal job. The highlights for this reviewer in the all star Aussie ensemble were Hugo Weaving; whose skill with portraying ambiguity makes his Detective character a particularly elusive entity. He has past indiscretions that still influence his approach. [And] Ryan Kwanten is electric as the overtly racist Kangaroo hunter, that’s suspect number one in Swan’s investigation. This is yet another potent performance for the increasingly incredible performer.
Mystery Road is an unravelling enigma haunted by the spirits of the Australia’s indigenous and colonial past. It positions ‘civilisation’ alongside the outback and it’s inescapable ochre stain. It’s Australia’s answer to No Country for Old Men. ★★★★ and a half (out of 5)”artemisprojects: ”

Mystery Road is packaged neatly (and cunningly) in the genre of a detective film, itself a gentle parody of a white man’s paradigm, though the detective in this film is Aaron Pedersen’s Jay Swan, an aboriginal detective who is encouraged by his uncle, played by the charming Jack Charles in a memorable performance, to ‘keep it dark’….Mystery Road is a modern parable of how wrongdoings come back to haunt us…it is gentle, patient, yet unrelenting and merciless.

It has already won itself a unique and fundamental place in the history of Australian film.”

Lynden Barber, SBS: “Ivan Sen’s Mystery Road, an Aboriginal police procedural cum modern Western set in a small outback town, was a canny choice for the gala opening night feature. I liked it with reservations. Apart from a terrific cast (headed by Aaron Pederson as the cop just returned from the city), the good part is that after his smell-of-an-oily-rag Toomelah, Sen has re-found the spectacular eye that marked out his earlier short films and debut feature, Beneath Clouds. This is a director who knows how to frame a shot (and he does all his own, often spectacular, cinematography).

While I suspect Mystery Road will be enthusiastically reviewed, I predict it will struggle to match that approval at the box office, and for understandable reason. While Sen has addressed the need for his feature film to look boldly cinematic, his under-developed plot derives essentially from television…To my mind, Sen would have been better off working with a screenwriter to more satisfactorily develop the script and turn this into a high-end TV teleseries. In this form it could have retained its cinematic virtues (as our new large-screen televisions allow) while satisfying more deeply on the narrative level. ”


I don’t think the TV comments are insulting, and in the cases of some films, I wonder the same thing: some plots (especially the “slow burn” variety) and characters are better-served by the broader narrative parameters of television, particularly the sorts of artful miniseries/limited run series now being developed by Sundance and other cable networks: Top of the Lake (co-directed by Jane Campion) and Rectify were particularly fine recent examples. (Hugo’s friend and periodic costar Aden Young starred in the latter– possibly the most remarkable performance I’ve seen from an actor yet this year. Seek it out if you haven’t seen it already.) That said, I’m glad Mystery Road is a film, because I don’t have an 80″ LED screen and cinema-quality sound system yet, and I really want to see this in a cinematic context.

One of the heartening things about seeing Cloud Atlas in a theater several times was being able to chat with others who loved the film as much as I did, which countered a lot of the pseudointellectual internet smarm I had to slog through in covering the film for the fan community. I bet a lot of people now discovering that film on DVD/Blu-Ray/On Demand etc wish they’d seen it on a giant screen.  😉 But I could definitely see Hugo doing a limited-run series for Sen or another director of his calibre. One could easily argue that in the US, in particular, the television is often of a higher quality than the films in recent years, though there’s still too much “reality” TV garbage out there. (But all countries produce their share of the latter.)

You can read other articles about the Mystery Road premiere, and its US distribution deal, at The Age, Twitch Film and FilmOFilia.

The Hobbit Trilogy
There are a few minor updates on the second installment of The Hobbit: The Hobbit Movie website posted some speculative clues about what might appear in the sequels. I suspect that Battle of Five Armies will be saved for the third film, as many actors have confirmed it hadn’t been filmed yet before the recent additional shooting began in New Zealand. Still no word on whether Hugo will be needed for additional scenes/shooting, or whether he’ll appear in all three films. Several websites have speculated that the first trailer for The Desolation of Smaug might appear before screenings of Man of Steel, but this isn’t confirmed by any official sources. Anyhow, the trailer will certainly be posted online no matter which films it’s attached to. So you don’t have to subject yourself to Zack Snyder. (I’d probably be ejected from the theater for cheering on Michael Shannon too loudly. Yes, my favorite actors are inevitably cast as villains in these things…) 😉

Peter Jackson hasn’t shared any new dispatches from the set, though he’s promised something soon… he did share an amusing behind the scenes video made for the An Unexpected Journey DVD and New Zealand tourism, which covers all of the locations used in the first film. And insists none of the scenery was photoshopped (though PJ wryly reveals that the Hobbiton set used in the LOTR trilogy was “made of polystyrene”.) No Elrond/Hugo footage,alas, because Rivendell was completely filmed on sound stages. But it’s well worth a look if you’re a fan of any these films.

The Gift

Hot on the heels of his well-received Sydney Theatre Company debut in Fury, Harry Greenwood has taken on another challenging role, portraying a young man with cerebral palsy in the short film The Gift, directed by Lloyd and Spencer Harvey. There are a trailer and making-of video posted to Vimeo which I’ll try to embed below if LJ will cooperate.

While the plot isn’t wholly original (it reminds me slightly of the excellent short film “Wish 143” and the feature film The Sessions) the treatment does seem unique, dealing with the protagonist’s family and the complications his wish provokes.

I’ve been asked a few times if I’m going to cover everything Harry does just because he’s Hugo’s son… the answer is “no”. I don’t cover everything Hugo does, nor am I a big fan of nepotism.  None of the online fan blogs or pages are official in any way, and, since they are fan pages, there’s no sense in pretending they’re objective. Yes, Hugo’s work gets the benefit of the doubt in most cases, but not all. I like to think I try to balance the vast bulk of online Hugo Weaving pages, which focus on a small number of his roles and often ignore his most interesting work. Similarly, I’m only going to pass on the word about Harry’s projects if they impress me. If he starts doing soaps like his cousin, I’m not going to say too much about that… but he’ll probably find a huge, young female following who are more than happy to do so. I’m pleasantly surprised he’s doing the less-lucrative but more interesting projects he’s chosen. If he reaches a certain level of fame, someone else will probably take on Harry Greenwood fan-blogging full time. I do question if I should mention his projects or just stick to Hugo News… I predict he’ll have enough fans in his own right soon enough. 😉