Monthly Archives: July 2013

New Hugo Weaving Film Still & Details From The Turning, Add’l Screenings For Mystery Road

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 Weaving in "Commission", directed by David Wenham

The Turning's website has been lavishly supplemented with new sub-pages about each of the 17 segments that comprise the film, including casting details, synopses and director's statements. Since some of this material could be considered slightly spoilery, I'll leave it to readers to click on the link and decide how much they want to peruse. (If you want to know absolutely nothing, skip the next paragraph too.)

In some ways, the film is at least as complex as Cloud Atlas, though more grounded and less metaphysical… and instead of individual actors playing multiple characters, multiple actors play the same characters at different times and in different circumstances. (Vic Lang, the son of Bob Lang, Hugo's character, appears in several stories and is even played by Richard Roxburgh in the segment "Reunion", a story set many years after "Commission", but appearing before it in the film. (Meaning, yes, the stories aren't told in chronological order. But it's nothing you Hugo fans can't handle.) 😉 A younger version of Bob Lang is portrayed in a later story ("Fog") as well. Cate Blanchett plays Gail Lang, Bob's daughter-in-law (opposite Roxburgh's version of Vic) in "Reunion".  (Cate also played Hugo's mother-in-law in Lord of The Rings and step-daughter in Little Fish, trivia buffs will note.) 😉 I promise none of this will play out as confusingly as I'm making it sound.

I know I haven't been able to compose a full Hugonuts update in some time… part of this is because I've been overwhelmingly busy, part because there hasn't been any earth-shattering breaking news. Hugo has remained in Sydney as far as I'm able to determine, and is probably still working on The Mule. (That production filmed some scenes and exteriors in Bangkok earlier this month, but I now doubt Hugo was involved in that. He was never spotted there, at any rate.) Hugo will put in an appearance at the Melbourne International Film Festival in late July/early August (according to themusic.com.au)… his films Mystery Road and The Turning will screen there. Mystery Road screens on July 26, The Turning on August 3 (its gala premiere) and August 10 and 11 (two screenings the 11th.) Tickets are going fast, according to MIFF's website, so if you're planning to attend, act quickly.  I don't know whether Hugo will attend screenings for both films or just The Turning's premiere… certainly he won't be as involved as he was in the Sydney Film Festival. But, at any rate, the long drought of Hugo News should soon be over.

Here's the Herald Sun's preview of MIFF, including an interview with Mystery Road's Aaron Pedersen and details on both Mystery Road and The Turning:

You can also read MIFF festival previews and other details at TheLowDownUnder and EverGuide.  The Turning debuts in Australian cinemas 26 September. International dates haven't yet been announced, but I feel certain a film of this scope featuring this much talent will have a wide international release, either in arthouses or on VOD .

Mystery Road

The Mystery Road website added a nice high-res version of this image of Hugo Weaving and Aaron Pedersen (this is NOT the high-res version. Click on the link, then on the magnifying icon to see it in all its glory.) 😉

Mystery Road will have at least one additional festival screening after MIFF, before its wide Australian release on 17 October. (US release is slated for early 2014.) The fim will be part of the schedule at Cinefest Oz, where it will have its West Australian premiere on 22 August at Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre; tickets are now on sale. According to Yahoo Australia, a black-tie event is scheduled, along with a Q&A session with producer David Jowsey following the film. No word on whether cast members will attend this event.  Preview screenings for critics have also been held; most writers are holding back their reviews for the moment, though hinting strongly on Twitter that the film is a must see. 😉 Here's a quote from one reviewer who went ahead and posted his thoughts:

Michael Scott, Cue Dot Confessions: "[T]hough Sen goes to great pains to capture the beauty of the outback in all of its serene majesty, his film is more about the outback's brutal indifference than its enormous grandeur… Truth be told, the mystery side of Mystery Road isn't particularly engaging. Though Sen has an ear for Aussie vernacular and a strong sense of the outback character, his instincts for murder mystery tend toward simplistic, often self-evident, paper chasing. What actually makes the film compelling is the combative environment that Sen throws his archetypal hero into…

Sen captures the sardonic aggression of outback masculinity almost to a fault. Had I not lived out bush for a number of years, the cringe-worthily blusterous entitlement of the old white men with guns would have struck me as hideous caricature. But it is unfortunately all too true, and nowhere is it more disgusting than when it is unleashed on the 'uppity blackfella' detective…. [Aaron Pedersen's] Jay Swan operates his investigation from no-man's land, copping obstructions from both sides; on the one hand his Sergeant (Tony Barry), the local drug squad detective (Hugo Weaving) and the local farmers (including a menacing Ryan Kwanten), feed him spurious information and half-promises of assistance; and on the other his ex-wife, Mary (Tasma Walton), his daughter, Crystal (Tricia Whittenand), and the local Aboriginal kids have him pegged as a turncoat copper who has walked out on his own people. Only the old folk (selected from Australia's acting royalty: Jack Thompson and Uncle Jack Charles) have managed to scale the trenches to offer any meaningful, race-blind assistance…

Sen doesn't give answers. There really aren't any to give. The outback is a broken land filled with broken people, at least when it comes to race relations. Mystery Road calls them out on this. That is a powerful declaration and the cinematic expression of it is more chilling than any murder mystery could ever be."

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Looks like Hugo Weaving (and Cate Blanchett) weren't needed for filming pick-ups for the second and third films in The Hobbit trilogy, which unfortunately suggests the characters won't play an active role in The Battle of Five Armies. (Hugo confirmed it hadn't been filmed yet last fall, and Peter Jackson's blogs from the set hint that the Mirkwood Elves and (of course) the Dwarves have a central role in that sequence.) Jackson confirmed that all supplemental filming involving "Elves, humans, wizards and Hobbits" was completed by July 12 without Weaving or Blanchett having put in an appearance on set. They will appear in at least one more film (possibly both) but probably in a minor capacity. Meanwhile, you cam see the latest whimsical Hobbit set photos (including a scandalous image of Bilbo wearing shoes(!) at Peter Jackson's Facebook Page and E! Online.

Healing

SBS posted a nice preview of Hugo's third collaboration with director Craig Monahan, the prison rehab drama Healing. No new details or photos, but there are some classic preview/interview videos promoting their first project, The Interview (1998) embedded in the piece.

In The Company of Actors

If you enjoyed this 2007 documentary, or were lucky enough to catch STC's production of Hedda Gabler in Sydney (2004) or Brooklyn, NY (2006), you might want to watch costar Aden Young's webcast interview videos promoting the film, in which he fields questions from students at several Australian schools via videoconference. Among other things, Young confirms the notorious cellphone story Hugo also related in a radio interview several years ago. (You can read Hugo's version of events of that story– and about his fall from the stage in the same production– here.)  Thanks to Sydney Correspondent Yvette for informing me of these clips. 🙂

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The Turning, Mystery Road to Screen At MIFF: Hobbit Video 11; Hugo Weaving SFF Audio Interview

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.

Through there hasn’t been any spectacular breaking news since the last entry, there are enough new tidbits on several of Hugo’s films (and, as far as the Melbourne International Film Fest is concerned, specifics) to warrant a full update.

The Turning

First up, Hugo’s next film to premiere will be Tim Winton’s The Turning, which will screen at the Melbourne International Film Festival next month. The film’s world premiere will serve as MIFF’s Centerpiece Gala on 3 August at 7pm, with additional showings on 10 August at 10.30am and 11 August at 6.30pm. Tickets are selling quickly, so if you plan on attending, you’ll nee to act fast. You can buy tickets or read additional venue details here.  There will also be a Q&A session about the film held on 4 August at 1.30pm with author Tim Winton, producer Robert Connolly and several of the 17 directors who worked on the project in attendance. Details on that, and ticket sales, are here.  No word yet on whether Hugo Weaving will attend the premiere of this film or be on hand at MIFF in any capacity; Mystery Road will also be screened there on 26 July (more details on that below.) As I’ve mentioned previously, Hugo Weaving is featured in a segment entitled “Commission”, directed by his old friend and frequent past costar David Wenham. Hugo plays “Honest Bob” Lang in a story of about a father and son reuniting after years apart.

You can read more about The Turning at Junkee.com, 10 Magazine, ReFest Magazine, Madman Entertainment, Onya Magazine, Inside Film (an article about some of the film’s first-time directors, including Wenham and Mia Wasikowska), Yen Magazine, Geek of Oz, Pedestrian TV and Mumbrella.  You can read more about the Melbourne International Film Festival at Inside Film, Event Finder and, of course, at the MIFF website.

Local Today featured MIFF artistic director Michelle Carey’s thoughts on the film, which she said varies in tone over the course of 17 linked stories, some of which are impressionistic and others more literal: “As a film experience it’s really unique, it’s something probably a bit more akin to theatre or dance…It is something completely unique certainly in Australian filmmaking.” No additional details and only a pair of official photos from “Commission” have been released, including this film still, and another brief glimpse seen in the film’s trailer:


From The Turning’s Facebook Page, which also features a great shot of Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh in Reunion.


Hugo’s character Bob Lang, as seen in the film’s trailer

The best sources for updates on The Turning remain the film’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. There is an official website too, but so far all it features is the film’s teaser trailer. The Turning will have its Australian cinema release 26 September; no word yet on international distribution, but with this cast I figure it’ll have to at least get VOD distribution, and ideally an arthouse release worldwide.

Mystery Road

As I mentioned, Ivan Sen’s widely lauded film Mystery Road, which had its world premiere at last month’s Sydney Film Festival, will also have a screening at MIFF, on 26 July at 6.15pm as part of MIFF’s Australian Showcase.  There will also be a talk featuring Ivan Sen and star Aaron Pedersen on 27 July at 4pm. Unfortunately Mystery Road’s Australian release has been pushed back from August to October; hopefully that won’t impact the projected early 2014 US/international release previously announced. I don’t know if Australia follows America’s tendency to use August as a dumping ground for mindless summer movies that don’t quite have the box office potential of the May – July “tentpole” releases, but if they do, the change to the more serious, artistically-intentioned fall release season makes sense.

Mystery Road received another boost in the form of a very positive review in Variety, which is considered influential in gauging how well a film will do in international release; unfortunately, the critic continued Variety’s tendency to spill far too many plot spoilers, so those not wanting character details or the aftermath of the film’s climactic gun battle revealed might want to skip the middle paragraphs; here’s a spoiler-free excerpt:

Eddie Cockrell, Variety: “Writer-director-lenser-editor-composer Ivan Sen’s “Mystery Road” is an impressively crafted, immensely satisfying contempo thriller that astutely grafts Western and film-noir elements onto the hot-button issue of tensions between indigenous and European Australians… Holding the narrative tightly together is Sen’s superb script — his fourth produced dramatic feature and first genre exercise. Rich in imaginative metaphor and brooding symbolism, the film incorporates such disparate elements as the growing threat of wild dogs in the region, the God’s-eye shots of Swan navigating the town’s roads and even the dusty red dirt that coats everything in the outback, creating an atmosphere of brooding menace and moral rot… [Aaron] Pedersen’s laconic delivery fronts a distinguished lineup of Aussie character talent.”

Sydney Film Festival 


Hugo Weaving at the SFF awards presentation ceremony, 16 June  Photo: ABC Arts

The controversial awarding of the SFF’s main prize to Only God Forgives continues to be debated online. Film critic and journalist Julie Rigg, who has interviewed Hugo many times over the course of his career, chatted with him and fellow SFF juror Paolo Bertolin after the awards presentation and shared both audio clips on ABC Arts.  She heard two very different responses to the film, which essentially confirm my suspicion that the jury was divided and that Hugo and another juror (probably Anand Gandhi) were talked into changing their votes by the three others. (Bertolin and the two female jurors, Kath Shelper and Pia Marais, have been vocal in their praise of the winning film while Weaving and Gandhi have been vocal only in not wanting to discuss it at all, 😉 though Hugo expressed warm feelings for all his fellow jurors and stressed that the decision caused no rancor among the group.) I’d love to hear which film Hugo actually preferred, as he does state the final choice, which took 6 and a half hours, was between two films. Even the awards statement, which Hugo read during the presentation, was “was carefully phrased and debated word by word” by the group, according to Rigg, and thus wasn’t Hugo’s personal statement, but one on behalf of and composed by the full group.

Though this was Hugo’s first time as a feature film juror at a prominent festival, he also served on the jury at the Byron Kennedy Awards judging short films… where fellow juror Rowan Woods (The Boys, Little Fish) said he also was talked into awarding a film that wasn’t his first choice. So he’s definitely a facilitator rather than a dictator or politician at these events. I would think people would ask Hugo (or any actor/director/etc) to serve in such a role in order to have a definitive role in the selection process, but Hugo would apparently rather cede to the majority and maintain equanimity, though he slightly subverts that process by saying he has nothing to say whatsoever about the winning film. Which, from Hugo, speaks volumes. 😉 I don’t think anyone would hold it against Hugo to just be honest and direct whether he loved a given film or hated it… I never hold back on strong opinions about films, or the arts, but I’m able to have enthusiastic debates with friends and family who hold equally strong but different opinions without anyone taking things personally. Hugo has always been more than willing to praise films he enjoyed (especially Australian films) but more circumspect in being critical. This is very endearing, but I would love it if someone asked him to dish on movies he hated for once. Other than Transformers, I mean. 😉

That said… I’d love to see video of the Julie Rigg interview, because clearly he gives her quite an expression when asked “what Nicholas Winding Refn was saying” with Only God Forgives, as she says, “Clearly you don’t want to go any further”, and they both laugh. Later he says, “You’ve got to learn to have your opinions chiseled a bit” on a festival jury, then later says “I think you shouldn’t talk to me too much about this film” when asked what about the winner he “hadn’t seen before”.  Reminds me a bit of the late, great Roger Ebert’s refusal to give The Human Centipede a rating. Maybe that is a bit colder (or more “chiseling”?) than just ranting about how bad it was, which some directors will cynically blurb to get attention.

Healing

A few new updates on Healing, which is in the final stages of post-production and might be ready in time for the fall festivals. The film’s Facebook page shared the news that editing has now been completed, and additional audio recording (of natural sounds, to highlight to therapy-raptor theme) was underway in late June. They also shared this photo of the cast and crew at Healesville Sanctuary on the final day of filming. Hugo is in the front row, to the right:

The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

I wish I had more specific info about Hugo’s role in this film, but currently there are no new details about whether Elrond will appear in both remaining Hobbit films or what his scenes will involve. PJ has confirmed that the Battle of Five Armies was among the sequences being shot during this spring/summer’s “pick-ups” for the last film, There and Back Again. Hugo has not yet been involved in the current filming, but it will probably continue for at least a few more weeks. Hugo did confirm he shot scenes for “both films” when there were only two, and that, as of last fall (when he last spoke of The Hobbit), he hadn’t shot any Battle of Five Armies footage and hadn’t been given details as to whether or when he’d be needed for additional work on the trilogy.

Hugo also doesn’t appear in Peter Jackson’s latest Production Diary Video (#11 for those counting), but it’s so entertaining you’ll probably want to watch it (or watch it again) anyhow. I suspect that the second film focuses more on the Mirkwood Elves, including Legolas, Thranduil and the controversially non-canonical Tauriel. (For the record, I have no issues with Tauriel being added… even when I was a kid first reading The Hobbit, I thought it could use more female characters. Because it had absolutely none. PJ has promised that Tauriel isn’t just a Mary Sue construct (ie a love interest for Legolas who has no real role in the story or other justification for being there)… he’d better be telling the truth. But nothing I’ve seen so far gives me reason for concern.)  I still hope Elrond at least makes an appearance in the two remaining films, but we’ll have to wait awhile longer to know for certain. Til then you can look at scans from the Empire DOS issue at Comic Book Movie. And PJ also promises a second new Production Diary video covering the latter half of this summer’s pick-ups and reshoots before summer ends.

And there’s confirmation (via Empire and ComingSoon.net) of additional Rivendell footage in publicity for the forthcoming Expanded Edition of An Unexpected Journey, which will be out this fall in advance of the second film. (To be specific, we’re promised more Dwarf-on-Elf hostility in Rivendell footage; Elrond isn’t specifically mentioned, but frankly in spite of AUJ’s  widely criticized theatrical length, the Rivendell sequences felt too abrupt, particularly for scenes meant to convey how Bilbo’s lifelong love of Rivendell began in the first place. So I’m glad to learn more footage was shot.)

In Other Hugo Weaving News…

Hugo Weaving was spotted at Art of Music Live, a fundraising concert, on 26 June. He has supported the charity for several years, and donated $25K in a charity auction for the group in 2010.

The Mule has been filming in Bangkok, Thailand over the past couple of weeks, though no specifics about which cast members re on hand are available. The film’s Twitter feed continues to provide humorous but real-information-free posts and videos. I suspect Hugo Weaving plays a supporting rather than lead character at this point.

The Gift, a short film starring Hugo’s son Harry Greenwood, has been picked up by several prominent international festivals, including MIFF, The Palm Springs Short Film Festival and “two others in LA”,  according to The Daily Telegraph.