New Full-Length Trailer, Reviews For Tim Winton’s The Turning, Another Photo of Hugo Weaving At STC

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.

First off, apologies for my recent absence. My previous computer suffered a complete meltdown a couple of weeks ago, and, after  repair options were deemed too costly and questionable, I had to bite the bullet and buy a new machine. I'm till getting "moved into" the new system, but I have been able to access Twitter using various phones and guest computers in the interim, and have kept retweeting/posting Hugo Weaving updates as best I could via Twitter and Facebook. However, I had no access to LJ and had no audio or video capacity until yesterday, so it's good to finally return to some semblance of normalcy. 😉

Tim Winton's The Turning

Fortunately I didn't miss any major Hugo Weaving News, though positive reviews of Tim Winton's The Turning and Mystery Road continued to accumulate after screenings at Cinefest Oz and various other locations. Hugo wasn't in attendance at any of these; David Wenham handled promotional work for a truncated version of The Turning at Cinefest Oz (while serving as a festival patron) and Jack Thompson and producer David Jowsey put in an appearance for Mystery Road. Wenham gave an entertaining audience Q & A at the festival, (which was transcribed and posted online by ABC Southwest WA) saying that he immediately intended to cast Hugo as Bob Lang in "Commission":

"I've worked with Hugo, and I didn't particularly want to audition him…. [All it took was an email to win Hugo's agreement to take the role.]…
I knew that [Hugo and costar Josh McConville]  were capable of doing it. How would you know otherwise? I'm only guessing here.

Some people are really good at auditioning. They come in and they can be fantastic. But those actors could also be the same actors that when they appear on set, that's all you're ever going to get from the performance.

Sometimes, you want a performance to change. To do something other than what they're doing and they're not capable of doing that. So you want to be confident that your actor is malleable and can take direction and can change….

I'm more into performances that will actually move people or can change people or affect people in some way, as opposed to watching a performance and going 'Oh that's amazing, that's a really good actor.' That doesn't interest me at all….

I was lucky that The Commissionwas only a short film. It was manageable; there were only two actors in it.
I purposely wanted to keep it very, very simple in terms of what I was doing with the camera.
But I wanted to reflect Tim Winton's writing. For me, Tim Winton is very, very simple and sparse with his writing. There's nothing extraneous. I wanted to very clearly and simply get the kernel of truth within those two characters."

The full interview can be read here, and includes an amusing tangent on Viggo Mortensen's Method-acting extremes on the set of Lord of the Rings.

The arrival of my new computer neatly dovetailed with the debut of the new, full-length international trailer for Tim Winton's The Turning, giving me some lovely material worthy of repeat viewings to test the new system. It's still impressionistic, like the TS Eliot-quoting teaser trailer before it,  but does feature the first hints of dialogue and plot from the film's various storylines:

You can read more about the trailer at Sunrise on Seven/Yahoo, The Film Stage, Four Film Music, Cinema Blend and Mumbrella. There's been an encouraging amount of positive feedback worldwide on various social networks, so hopefully this will help the film earn the international distribution is deserves. The limited-run Australian special release (beginning September 26) featuring the full-length cut of the film and special appearances by various cast and crew members is quickly selling out; Australian filmgoers should book tickets at the film's website quickly.

Producer Maggie Miles called in ABC Radio yesterday for a brief chat about her work on The Turning, including living "in a tent in the outback with Hugo Weaving, David Wenham and crew during filming of The Commission". You can stream or download the audio interview at ABC South West WA.

Here are a selection of quotes from recent reviews of The Turning:

Megan Lehmann, The Hollywood Reporter: "Portmanteau films can be frustratingly hit-and-miss affairs, but the powerful source material and the packed stable of top-tier talent involved in The Turning have resulted in a masterful, exhilaratingly coherent collage of Australian life in the raw. Based on acclaimed Australian novelist Tim Winton’s best-selling collection of 17 interwoven short stories, this eloquent three-hour epic offers a bracing, sometimes deeply unsettling, arthouse experience as individual plot threads twist and twirl and ultimately come together to form a composite portrait of small-town lives that are pinched yet somehow poetic….

Within a tight geographical focus on a fictional coastal town in Western Australia, different story strands confront police corruption, soul-deadening abattoir jobs, alcoholism and young love and lust. Certain characters recur during different stages of their lives, but in the film version, each is played by a different actor — sometimes Aboriginal, sometimes not — depending on the story in which they appear. It would take repeated viewings or a thorough perusal of the program to tease apart the links — or you could just go with the flow…. There is scarcely a misstep from here, although some segments are stronger than others…. Hugo Weaving gives an affecting performance in Commission… The cumulative effect is transporting."

Lee Bemrose, Soot: "There might be a temptation to compare this to projects like Kieslowski’s Three Colours trilogy or Robert Altman’s adaptation of Raymond Carver’s short stories for Short Cuts in that characters from one story make an appearance in other stories, but The Turning is so much more than these movies. And it is not one big movie or one big story; it is, perhaps, an exploration of the idea that our lives are actually made up of many stories, each branching off from another, even if we think of our life as a single story….

Actor David Wenham directed Hugo Weaving in Commission, and the result is so good in every way. It’s a slow, father-son drama that gradually shares the details of the past until we have the final picture of what is going on. Laconic, damaged Australian masculinity done to perfection….

Casting and performances were universally excellent. Whether seasoned veterans or young ones, they all had moments that allowed us to glimpse the very real humanity of the characters they were portraying. There are moments in almost every story that will break your heart in some way.

It could be argued that if the movie requires a detailed program complete with timeline and family tree, it has not succeeded in being its own entity. I prefer to think that the program enriches an otherwise already rich experience. The Turning as a movie does stand alone, it does make me want to read the book. And it’s not often that I want to watch a three-hour movie again. It’s that good."

Nick Brodie, Graffiti With Punctuation: "The highlights will obviously differ person to person. Opening with ‘Ash Wednesday’, based on the T.S Eliot poem that introduces the book, it is an animated voiceover sequence that sets the tone for the remainder of the film: this is our land, these are our people. The mood for each film differs greatly but there’s an underlying current of something far deeper than what is usually on offer… David Wenham oversees a son asking questions of his long-abandoned father in ‘Commission’…

The promotional material doesn’t lie: this really is a special event. Each ticket purchased will be rewarded with a 40-page glossy book that details each short for you to recollect for years after.

The rare dull moments are superseded by some of the best cinematography from any film this year. Local audiences have been shouting with dry throats for a film that doesn’t portray us inside a medical facility or a police station. This may well be the answer for a lot of you. The entire country is represented in some manner for the first time here through a means that almost turns it into an artwork. Take advantage of this special offer in a cinema while you can—chances are we won’t see something on such a grand scale for a long time again.

★★★★★"

Julie Rigg, ABC Arts: "The stories don’t exactly overlap, but there are common characters: a boy named Vic, his mother Carol, and his father Bob, a copper who drinks too much and suddenly deserts them without a word. And there are two Aboriginal brothers, Max and Frank, the boys from the sand dunes. What unites the collection is Winton’s focus on the experiences which shape us, where emotion and insight come together…

What [producer Robert] Connolly and the individual teams did not know when they started production was how the shorts would fit together as a complete film. The aforementioned key characters are played by different actors at different stages of their lives. There is colour blind casting: what Tim Winton calls 'reverse appropriation'. Bob, for example, is played by Noongar actor Dean Daley-Jones in one story, and later, in David Wenham’s Commission, a much older Bob is played with quiet sincerity by Hugo Weaving. Before the Melbourne Film Festival premiere on August 3, not one of the directors had seen each other’s film…

I found the premiere experience overwhelming, three hours of viewing, no interval. But the stories flowed. They achieved what previous big screen adaptations of Winton’s works (That Eye, The Sky and In the Winter Dark) have not: together they made an intriguing world…

Producer Robert Connolly (The Boys, Balibo, The Julian Assange Story) has taken risks in his career. This is his most imaginative achievement to date, a huge punt on the collective talents of Australian filmmakers, young and old, established and still finding their feet. It’s a powerful work which will speak to Australians in a way nothing much has on our screens for years. I am wary these days of films which attempt to tell us who we are, but in some sense this does. Together, these stories make a world which is ours."

Kewnton Bellette, Twitch Film: "I only disliked three of the 17 shorts in this compendium. For an adapted anthology this is an impressive figure….

The Turning is clumsily book-ended and has some misfires, but ultimately this ambitiously sky-high work deserves respect and recognition, fusing literature and film fiction effortlessly amidst a flurry of endearing talent."

You can also view Bede Jermyn's lengthy, positive video review here; note that he doesn't begin discussing The Turning until 6.06 in.

Mystery Road

Mystery Road's screening dates at the Toronto International Film Festival have finally been announced: the film will have its North American premiere on 7 September, with additional showings September 9 and 15. Single tickets go on sale September 1 (yes, I know they're scheduling tactics are hard on anyone not in the Toronto area who doesn't have hundreds of dollars for Festival Package deals… ) More details here. I still haven't ruled out the possibility of going, if a ticket can be secured and last-minute travel arrangements made. It should be noted that Hugo Weaving hasn't appeared on any of the official guest-lists posted online, but this film might be under the radar at such a celebrity-studded festival. He did make the trip to Toronto to promote Little Fish in 2005 and Cloud Atlas last year, but has only attended the Sydney Film Fest premiere presentation of this film so far. So it would be unsafe for me to hazard a guess about his participation at TIFF.  And one should always go to film premieres to support films one genuinely cares about, not just in hopes of star-gazing. 😉

Mystery Road director Ivan Sen's Melbourne International Film Fest Q&A has been posted online at YouTube:

Mystery Road will also have a special gala screening to open the Darwin International Film Festival on 18 September, and will have a special screening in Winton, QLD (where it was filmed) in early October. I'll post additional screening dates as they become available. The film opens wide in Australia on 17 October, and in early 2014 in North America.


Hugo Weaving at the Sydney Film Festival premiere of Mystery Road, 5 June 2013. Photo: Cinemazzi

One new Mystery Road review:

Katerina Sakkas, Real Time Arts: "Like the best detective stories, it presents us not only with a mystery, but with an unfolding portrait of a particular community and place….

[Director Ivan] Sen emphasises the significance of [character] encounters by subduing background noise to near silence, with the result that faces and voices take on an almost unnatural clarity. Every exchange is a piece of the puzzle, and the viewer is encouraged to watch vigilantly. This wouldn’t work without the committed performances of Mystery Road’s cast, an impressive concentration of Australian character actors which includes Tony Barry, Hugo Weaving, Jack Charles, Tasma Walton and Jack Thompson. Pedersen leads them in a strong, understated performance as the conflicted Jay, a contained man whose gaze is constantly wary, but who also projects sincerity and dependability….

Where Mystery Road falls down slightly is in its function as a detective story. Every scene might be a piece of the puzzle, but not all of these pieces are put together at film’s end, particularly the portentous references to wild dogs which recur throughout but are never satisfactorily explained.

Overall, however, Sen has employed the framework of the whodunnit to create a striking piece of cinema whose stylisation enhances rather than overshadows this story about a misfit cop probing a town with a rotten, racist core."

Out & About, Casting Rumors

Hugo Weaving himself has kept a low profile in recent weeks, having apparently wrapped work on The Mule (I suspect his role might not be as large as initially advertised, but it's too soon to tell.) There have been various internet rumors and tweets about his working on formally unannounced projects including a voiceover on something called Manny Gets Censored, a film project involving Bryan Brown and a role in the film Shadows From The Sky.

I suspect the last is a case of mistaken identity, as the only source is an actress who was signed on for the film but hadn't yet begun working on it when she was interviewed; early promo materials for Shadows list Hugo's LOTR castmates Sean Bean and Karl Urban as possible leads, but Hugo isn't mentioned anywhere on the film's promotional sites. The other two projects remain in the "tantalizing rumors" stage for now, as I can find no information on them at all beyond the Tweets linked to.

As I noted in the previous entry, Hugo did put in an appearance at the Sydney Theatre Company's Rosecrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead on August 10. The Wentworth Courier published some additional images from the event in their 21 August print edition, including pics of Hugo and Cate Blanchett:

Hugo is also frequently spotted cheering on his favorite sports team at Sydney Swans games. So it looks like he's finally taking a well-earned break from films and film promotion for the moment. Although his role in additional publicity for The Turning and Mystery Road is unknown as yet (we know he was involved in some as-yet-unseen interviews for The Turning earlier this month) fans can rest assured he'll be back in the public eye at year's end, costarring with Richard Roxburgh in Waiting For Godot at Sydney Theatre Company. An extra week of performances were recently added due to overwhelming demand.
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