Monthly Archives: September 2013

New Hugo Weaving Video Interviews, The Turning Opens In Australia

There’s a lot of new material to post, so I’ll get to it without further ado; most of it is promotion for and reviews of Tim Winton’s The Turning, which opened its 2-week “Special Release”  in select Australian cinemas. Viewers attending these showings will receive the much-discussed 40-page glossy promo booklet detailing the characters and the various actors portraying each one. Our valued Australian correspondent Yvette posted images from her copy of the pages which feature Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett’s characters (Bob Lang in “Commission”, Carol Lang in “Reunion” so those of us not lucky enough to attend these special screenings can have a taste of that experience:

Again, my thanks to Yvette for sharing these.

Here’s a scan of the more positive recent reviews of the film, from the Courier Mail:

There are two new video clips Hugo fans will be interested in: the first features Hugo’s interview with Mark Fennell for The Feed/SBS2. Though I still wish interviewers in general would stop adding jarring musical accompaniment to these things, the interview itself is intelligent and the interviewer clearly knows Hugo’s work beyond the blockbusters. (Always nice to see someone stand up for Cloud Atlas too.) 😉

The second clip is a video of Robert Connolly’s ABC Radio interview from September 20 interspersed with comments from the film’s directors and cast (including Hugo) and film footage:

Thanks to both networks for posting these clips to YouTube so I can embed without hassles. 😉

Rob Connolly has done many interviews, tirelessly promoting The Turning. You can read the latest at The Blurb, The Film Pie, SBS Film, XPressMag, and Australian Screen

Inside Film and The Sydney Morning Herald (2nd SMH story on ticket sales here) have reported that the “special release” strategy has reaped huge rewards for the film, with many showings sold out and the film garnering positive buzz and likely AACTA nods. You can read production notes for the film at Femail.com.

The film continues to receive mostly positive reviews, and I haven’t read any that were wholly negative; some critics preferred some segments to others (which is natural), and some disliked the central concept of separating the stories by cast and director instead of a more uniform approach, which they felt made the film more confusing or diffuse than the novel. I’m less sympathetic to complaints that the film lacked a unifying “message” or that it was too long. I’ll post a sampling of recent review quotes under a cut, followed by additional review links.

Sandra Hall, The Sydney Morning Herald: “The film uses all 17 of the stories, each given form and colour by its setting – the small, Western Australian coastal town where Winton grew up. Most of the recurring characters have spent their youth here and a few have stayed on. Others have returned after years of fishing in busier waters. An unarticulated sense of yearning hangs over the place. Sometimes the action is propelled by frustration and disappointment and occasionally, the clouds are parted by a burst of laughter or a sudden flash of glee as inhibitions fall away and tensions dissolve…

David Wenham handles Commission, in which the adult Vic (portrayed by Josh McConville) seeks out the father who abandoned him and his mother when he was a teenager. As the father, an ex-cop broken by the corruption he had encountered among his fellow officers, we have Hugo Weaving, giving a performance that packs half a lifetime into 15 minutes…

Other chapters are not nearly as successful, making you wonder what might have been if Connolly had taken a more surgical approach to the book. But I think Winton is right when he calls it “a testament to the nerve and brio of our film culture”. There’s a kind of mad heroism in it, together with something more difficult to pinpoint. While some of Australia’s best cinematographers have invested its landscapes and seascapes with a dreamy allure, you also catch the desperation that wide open spaces can induce. There’s a tug-of-war going on between the ambivalent comforts of home and the even chancier attractions of the world beyond the horizon.”

***Rachael Mead, INDaily: “This film adaptation of Tim Winton’s short story cycle The Turning is being promoted as a “unique cinema event”, but even this level of praise fails to do it justice….Tim Winton’s The Turning is a beautiful and thoroughly Australian film that is every bit as addictive as the book. Winton’s characteristic depiction of life in the fictional West Australian coastal town of Angelus is brought to life in these short pieces, which follow the experiences of a cross-section of its townsfolk.  These films build on each other, gathering momentum and suspense as they explore dark themes such as domestic violence, alcoholism, homicide and police corruption…

Tim Winton’s The Turning is unquestionably a landmark in Australian filmmaking.  While it demands substantial concentration from the audience, this elegant and suspenseful epic more than rewards the effort.”

***

Kate Jinx, Six Thousand: “I’ll be honest. I haven’t read The Turning. I feel ambivalent towards most short films. I have to will myself daily to keep up a longstanding optimism about the Australian film industry. And this, THIS is an almost three hour film adaptation of Tim Winton’s novel, as presented by 17 different directors. As I took my seat for this much touted ‘cinema experience’, the odds did not look good. I bloody loved it…

There are moments of ‘WA winery commercial’ in there, sure, but there are also perfectly realised shorts that shine. Both Mia Wasikowska’s and David Wenham’s directorial debuts stand out, as do pieces by more experienced film-makers Warwick Thornton (Samson and Delilah) and Justin Kurzel (Snowtown). The list of actors is similarly impressive, including Cate Blanchett, Rose Byrne, Richard Roxburgh, Wayne Blair, Robyn Nevin and Hugo Weaving.”

***

Hugo Weaving as Bob Lang in Commission (all film stills from The Turning’s Facebook page)

Pamela Cook, Flying Pony: “I’m a Tim Winton fan from way back. Cloudstreet is my all time favourite novel and The Turning, my favourite short story collection. So when I saw it was going to be released as a movie I jumped online and ordered tickets for the preview for my daughter (also a fan) and myself…

And we weren’t disappointed.

What followed was three hours of beautiful cinematography, inspired directing and acting, in adaptations that captured the spirit of Winton’s writing…

My pick of the bunch would have to be Commission, starring Hugo Weaving and directed by David Wenham. Weaving’s portrayal of the emotionally tortured Bob Lang meeting his adult son Vic for the first time in fifteen years, was truly mesmerising. And of course the casting of Cate Blanchett, Richard Roxburgh and Robyn Nevin in Reunion was absolute genius and a joy to watch.”

***

Ron in Lausanne, Rob On The Sunshine Coast: ” Winton’s book, The Turning, is a complex compilation that explores the tricky coming of age years and then the fallout of the broken dreams that can eventuate, no matter how successfully you had navigated the pain of puberty. The imagery in these stories can be ‘like through a glass darkly’, but they are also hopeful, set in landscapes that are wild, dangerous and beautiful. Tim Winton seems to possess the ability to see life as the Australian Aborigines do, where people, landscape and spirit are inescapably intertwined as one…

Drawing on the talents of some of Australia’s best actors, that include Cate Blanchett, Rose Byrne, Miranda Otto, Richard Roxburgh and Hugo Weaving and many new and equally talented young actors, I feel that Connolly and his directive cohort have captured the essence of Winton’s writing and shaped it in a way unimagined. Some of those attending this film had not read the book but they were still able to grab and understand the complexities of family and time lapse  that Winton explores and presents in this volume of work. The cinematography was a breathtaking. Combined with the soundtrack it highlighted the uniqueness of the character we call Australian.”

***Colin Delaney, Something You Said: “Commission sees Hugo Weaving as Bob Lang, an ex-cop with a stoic exterior suffering demons that resurface when Vic tracks him down in an outback shack. Wenham uses a light touch and lets Weaving reveal through bare character subtleties. It’s an attribute in line with the director’s view of Winton’s text: ‘[He] has the ability to strip anything extraneous from his characters and stories. His unique skill allows him in each instance to simply and directly locate the kernel of truth.’…

Due to its niche market distribution model, it won’t capture the word-of-mouth growth that Red Dog and The Sapphires enjoyed the last two years. Similarly it doesn’t have those films’ escapism so it’ll be another local offering passing the masses because its bogged down by ‘depressing’ social-realism….However, if you’re one for bold, cinematic experiences that go beyond 3D and in-your-face explosions, to meditate on the minutiae of the human condition, The Turning is engaging viewing.”

***

Alana Foster, Paper Persuasion: “The story is evocative, and I will boast nothing but praise for its unique and complex narrative. I’m a huge fan of Australian productions, and this embodies everything that is creatively genius about Australia. The use of landscape and culture with iconic and emerging Australian talent is fantastic. Notably most directors were debuting for the first time, coming from other creative disciplines. Keep an eye out for Rose Byrne who completely transforms herself into possibly the best character portrayal I have seen her perform…

This cinema experience is unlike anything I have ever seen before. It is screening for two weeks only at selected cinemas across Australia. The whopping 180 minutes of screen time has a scheduled intermission, necessary so the audience can come up for air – it’s intense….

However thinking about the film, the stories, the interweaving of themes and the sheer depravity of single events and how they were depicted is brilliant. If by no other reason than curiosity and my personal recommendation, see this film immediately.”

***

Hugo Weaving and David Wenham on the set of Commission

James Robert Douglas, Junkee: “There was a moment, about two hours into The Turning – when Hugo Weaving strode onto the screen, luxuriantly bearded, and planted himself in the centre of the frame like a sturdy eucalypt — when I finally felt like I was in safe hands, if only for a short while…

One Short Story = One Short Film seems like a simple formula, but the demands of adaption are more complex. Clear narratives and concrete dramatic situations are usually an important component in satisfying movies (even David Lynch movies), but they are not always ingredients in successful short stories, which might take the form of artfully brief studies of character, or place, or history…Some short works, also, are so elegantly compressed that they truly do require a feature length running time to unpack….Not having read Winton’s book, the pieces in The Turning that lost me were those that preoccupied themselves in trying to untangle the delicate, internal emotional and psychological states that can be confidently expressed in prose, but tricky to externalize on film….

Which is why, in a film of small performances, Hugo Weaving’s presence is a tonic. Weaving has years’ experience chewing the scenery in blockbuster productions like The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, and in David Wenham’s ‘Commission’, he feels fully in command of the screen. Even when he’s not speaking his jaw works silently, chewing the air, demanding attention. He has the confidence to go broad without going over the top. It’s a performance with something to say about the difference between good screen acting and being entertaining. It helps, also, that Wenham has surrounded him with crisp, cinematic compositions, and given him a well-formed character to deliver.”

***

Philippa Hawker, The Sydney Morning Herald: “These are tales of loss, failure, connection and redemption, and they have things in common: recurring images and themes, locations with a particular significance, pain and disappointment that stretches across generations. The filmmakers of The Turning worked independently, but there’s coherence, as well as difference, in the way the stories play out…

Those unfamiliar with the book might feel anxious about identifying characters across narratives, and the prospect of a long, intense viewing experience. But each short film stands alone – there’s a case for surrendering to the work and its flow, and making your own connections. And the pleasures of the whole film are in details and their accumulation.”

***

Hugo Weaving and Josh McConvilleDave Cerewe, CCPopCulture: “Last night I went to a preview screening of Tim Winton’s The Turning, presented by director and producer Robert Connolly. The book it’s based on is a collection of seventeen short stories from one of the Australia’s greatest authors, stories set on or around the Western coast of Australia; stories about childhood and parents and siblings and the bush and the sea, all imbued with a sense of dark poetry, a wounded core of regret and loss. It’s a heavy, rewarding read and would seem on the surface to be practically unfilmable as a movie; there’s simply too many stories to be told, and while some are inextricably intertwined, others are only related by theme or emotion. To excise some stories might allow for a film adaptation to comfortably inhabit a two hour running time, but would cut away at the core of the book’s power….Winton’s writing requires excellent actors to capture his stories’ emotional nuance, and thankfully the filmmakers here have collected some of Australia’s best actors. Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh lend an authenticity to Reunion, a tale of a modest family Christmas and the healing power of a bottle of cheap champagne. Rose Byrne is astounding as Rae in the titular The Turning; glamorous actresses are often asked to conceal their beauty in movies, but Byrne’s performance as a battered, despondent housewife (well, caravan-wife) goes further, capturing the bruised soul at the core of her character. Hugo Weaving demonstrates understated power in Commission (written and directed by David Wenham), which tells the sad story of how Weaving shaved off his beard (there’s a little bit more to it than that). This is only a short list: Susie Porter, Miranda Otto, Matt Nable, Dean Daley-Jones, Callan Mulvey and a host of talented child actors produced memorable performances…

Ultimately, this is the effect of The Turning; it would be impossible to leave this experience unmoved. The presentation is not without its flaws – some stories really rely on having read the book to truly appreciate them, and it might benefit from a reshuffle of the order of the stories. In particular, before the intermission, the three most emotionally heavy stories (The Turning, Sand and Family) are told consecutively; this is fine in a book, where the reader can choose their own pace, but it’s a little overwhelming in a film. Breaking these up with one of the lighter stories (either Long, Clear View or Reunion) would’ve better suited the rhythm of this medium. But such minor issues should not distract from an event that warrants the adjective “unique.” The Turning is a significant achievement; a memorable, moving work of art.”

***

You can read other new positive or mixed but well-written reviews at ABC Online (video review), LetterboxD/Alexandra, ABC Brisbane, Twitch Film, Catholic Church Australia, Hope 103.2, and The Film Pie. The online version of the Leigh Paatsch review  in the scan is at News.com.au. And Madman Films and The Turning’s Facebook page had a bit of fun with a Hugo Weaving film still as part of their effort to distract potential viewers from football playoffs. 😉

Mystery Road

The bulk of promo material for Ivan Sen’s film is probably gong to appear in coming weeks, as the film’s general release (in Australia) in October 17. As I’ve noted before, there will also be festival screenings in London (LFF), Korea (Busan), Austin, Texas and Toronto (ImagiNATIVE Festival).

There’s a new profile of Ivan Sen in The Sydney Morning Herald, and a video interview of Sen, Aaron Pedersen and Ryan Kwanten (from TIFF) on YouTube. The Sydney Morning Herald also lists Mystery Road among its Most Anticipated Films for October.

Promotions, Reviews for The Turning (Incl Hugo Weaving video interviews); Mystery Road Previews

As Tim Winton’s The Turning approaches its September 26 general opening, promotional material and reviews have been published/posted frequently this week; I’ll begin by adding everything that’s appeared since the previous entry. Fans will probably be most interested in these new video interviews featuring Hugo; the first is a re-edited version of the Network Ten clip shared in the last entry, with some new material and exclusions. Since both are interesting, I’ll include the first one again; both feature Hugo Weaving, Mia Wasikowska and Robert Connolly being interviewed by Network Ten’s Angela Bishop.

Late News Ten: The Turning

Bish’s Biz: Tim Winton’s The Turning

Unfortunately, the next video suffers from the sort of morning chat show shallowness that now seems a worldwide malady: the show’s producer’s feel a need to blast loud, unrelated music over the interviews (which really rankles when a subject is as soft-spoken as Hugo), focus on the subjects’ big Hollywood projects, no matter how unrelated to the film at hand, and in general exude a glib, clueless attitude. I include it for the sake of completeness, and because Hugo, as always, has interesting things to say (that Mia Waskowska is a “knock-out” isn’t really one of them, though he’s probably referring to her talent rather than her looks.) I was heartened that so many Australians mocked the tone of the interview… US morning shows have “pioneered” these annoying traits. It’s a shame that Aussie shows seem to be following their template. I also apologise for a few technical glitches in the presentation… I have the world’s clumsiest recording software. 😉 But I’m tired of LJ telling me I can’t direct-embed anything that isn’t YouTube.

Much better is this AAP clip, which also features Hugo, Robert Connolly and Mia Wasikowska discussing the film, but without the superfluous distractions:

I did include this in an update of my previous entry, but I’m adding it here in case anyone missed that… plus, it’s worth seeing twice. 😉

Rob Connolly, who produced The Turning and conceived its unique structure (and directed the segment “Aquifer”) has done the lion’s share of promotion, sitting for lengthy in-depth radio interviews with two ABC Radio programs: Books and Arts Daily and Conversations with Richard Fidler Both can be streamed or downloaded and last about an hour; if you’re interested in The Turning, Connolly’s other films (including Balibo, The Bank and Three Dollars) or the Australian film industry in general, they’re well worth the time. Connolly was also interviewed in this video feature on ABC Arts (another one LJ won’t let me embed) which features behind the scenes footage and scenes from the film.

David Wenham, Mia Wasikowska and Connolly are featured in an interview clip on At The Movies‘ website discussing their segments: David Wenham says, of ‘Commission’:

“When I read the story and then I subsequently wrote the screenplay, which basically was me taking the best of Tim’s Dialogue and taking it on myself, but when I read it, I couldn’t get the image of Hugo out of my mind for that particular character. I just saw Hugo as Bob when I was reading it. So I was very concerned what I’d do if Hugo actually said no. You know, was it going to be a lay down misere? But thankfully Hugo said yes. Hugo is a huge fan of Tim’s work and it actually reminded me about 20 years ago Hugo and I worked together on a stage adaptation of another Winton piece, That Eye the Sky. So there was some sort of, I suppose, nice synchronicity in us working together again on another Winton piece.

I don’t want to, I suppose, appear arrogant but I felt relatively confident. As actors directing we have a huge advantage because I have worked now with dozens of directors. I’ve actually seen a lot of directors’ work. I sort of know what works and what sort of doesn’t work I hope. Not completely. I’m still working it out myself but directors never really have the opportunity to work with any other directors except themselves, so I’ve got to say I think I’m at an advantage, especially working with actors as well.”

And I’ll repeat that Films Madman has compiled all of their official behind the scenes interview/promo featurettes and film clips (including a brief scene from “Commission”) on YouTube, and that ABC’s The Final Cut has a fine audio interview featuring interviews with Hugo Weaving and Rob Connolly if you missed it.

.

You can read new reviews of The Turning at Impulse Gamer, Film Ink (1), The Sydney Morning Herald, Popcorn Taxi, Cinema Australia (they also have a lengthy interview with Rob Connolly), Graffiti With Punctuation, Switch, ArtsHub, Urban Cinefile, Cinemazzi, Concrete Playground, Film Ink (2), The Marshalltown and The Movie Review. Most of the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, with the caveat that each viewer will prefer some segments to others (though there’s no clear consensus on which segments are the lesser one; “Commission”, “The Turning” and “Long Clear View” have been on many favorites lists.) The Australian and Sydney Morning Herald decided to pull their usual Tall Poppy routine (is dissing the film BECAUSE it’s ambitious and has intimations of profundity). Granted, I can lash out at movies which seem full of themselves and pompous with unearned notions or grandeur (ask me about Terrence Malik sometime…) 😉 but I don’t get that vibe from The Turning, and the book certainly wasn’t pretending to say anything too general or pretentious about The Australian Character. Some reviewers have said they think the film might work better as unrelated short films seen individually, but is overwhelming as a whole. That’s an intriguing idea, but I don’t think being overwhelmed (as opposed to bogged down) is necessarily a bad thing, and I think the film should be seen as designed, in a theatre if possible, before one breaks it down or revisits just “the good bits” via home viewing. Of course, the film experience is certain to be different for every viewer, and to engage (or fail or) in different ways based on one’s tastes and experiences.

I’ll add the week’s print article scans beneath a cut: the first two are about The Turning (from The Gold Coast Bulletin and the Herald Sun), and last about Mystery Road (a cover profile of Ivan Sen from the Sydney Morning Herald Spectrum). (I’m trying to avoid too many cuts here…)  And I do realize that the two Turning pieces include duplicate content (interviews with Hugo Weaving and David Wenham, which originally appeared online at AAP/Local Today.) I’m erring on the side of completeness. Plus there are two different Hugo pics. 😉 And there’s a bonus in the form of an ad for STC’s Macbeth that was included in the Spectrum issue.

Gold Coast Bulletin, 22 September 2013

Herald Sun, 22 September 2013

Sydney Morning Herald Spectrum, 21-22 September 2013

Mystery Road

You can read the online version of the Ivan Sen profile above, and view a related video interview/travelogue, at The Age. The Australian also published an in-depth interview with Ivan Sen which touches on the tragic autobiographical incidents which inspired the film. Unfortunately, a lot of the early London reviews of the film have been pissy and condescending, slighting the film for either not being a tidy, cosy procedural with a neat ending, or because it dared to have a black comedy element (yes, that’s intentional, as the marketing makes obvious) rather than becoming purely a polemic about the mistreatment of indigenous people. Subtlety hasn’t been much in evidence in most of the recent British mystery films and series I’ve seen lately, which favor grand guignol violence and whiplash-inducing plot twists (ie they’re too much like American mysteries for my tastes.) 😉 I can’t be certain until I’ve seen the film (and my readers know I DON’T automatically approve of every film Hugo Weaving makes– not by a long shot) but some of these critics/filmgoers seem jaded, and seem unable to accept the film on its own terms. The fact that the film has been warmly received elsewhere reinforces this.

All of that being said, the ratio of positive to negative comments/reviews has been pretty equal so far, and you can read decent reviews at Flick Filosopher and Filmoria (though the latter again misses the point by suggesting the film should “fit together like a jigsaw”– is real life ever that tidy? That hasn’t been Ivan Sen’s experience with law enforcement. 😉

Macbeth

STC’s summer 2014 production, featuring Hugo Weaving in the title role and a unique inversion of the theatre space, continues to gather a lot of eager buzz; the play was included among Sydney Morning Herald’s most anticipated productions of the new season. And you can view a high-res image of Hugo by Michele Aboud’s stunning image of Hugo in the promotional art here.

Promotion for the special Australian engagement of Tim Winton’s The Turning continues

Promotion for the special Australian engagement of Tim Winton’s The Turning continues as the September 26 opening date approaches. Two new video clips went live today: the first, which was featured on Australia’s Network Ten late news, includes interview footage of Hugo Weaving discussing his work on the short “Commission”, and Mia Wasikowska (with producer Robert Connolly) describing her directorial debut on “Long Clear View”.


Warning: Hugo does give away a slight spoiler about Wasikowska’s film. 😉

The second is a brief clip from “Commission” (directed by David Wenham) featuring Hugo and Josh McConville (who plays his son) chatting beside a campfire about Bob Lang (Hugo’s character’s) decision to leave home. This scene and a scene from “Long Clear View” are also featured alongside Margaret and David’s reviews of the film at ABC’s At The Movies, in a clip compendium which also includes the film’s trailer. And Films Madman (the Australian distributor of The Turning and many other great films) has compiled all of the promo featurettes released thusfar for the film, and five films clips, including this one from “Commission” and a scene from “Reunion”, starring Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh, on their YouTube feed.

Hugo and David Wenham also spoke about “Commission” with Local Today; since it’s a relatively short piece I’ll include it under a cut here; alas, there were no accompanying photos. But both actors have intriguing comments about their working process, and about meeting on a different Tim Winton project (That Eye, The Sky) 20 years ago.  I’ll also include the complete iPad version of the Sunday Style Hugo Weaving interview which I included in the previous entry…The first part and photo are identical to the print version, but this has four extra questions and answers at the end. My thanks to Elisa at Random Scribblings for the technology assist; neither of us thinks content should be available only to wealthy fans with specific-brand technology.

The Turning Fans Will Love Film: Weaving

AAP/Local Today

David Wenham was worried about casting Hugo Weaving in The Turning

Wenham was one of the 17 directors chosen to adapt Tim Winton’s book of short stories and wanted Weaving for his film Commission.

Although Wenham had acted alongside Weaving before, The Turning marked his directorial debut and that combined with their history initially made it strange.

“I worked with Hugo as an actor, so to then be on the other side, like I was concerned at first. I thought, `God I wonder if Hugo’s going to say yes to this project’,” he says.

“I was hopeful but I didn’t want to count my cookies before they were baked.”

Weaving did say yes and found the experience of working with Wenham, who also wrote Commission, very easy.

He says Wenham wanted Commission, about a reconciliation between a father and a son, not to be too fancy and let the story speak for itself.

“He was incredibly well prepared and made it all seem so effortless when I know it wasn’t,” he says.

“We laughed a lot. It was good, we had fun, we sat around campfires.”

Coincidentally, the first time the pair worked together was actually on a different Tim Winton project, an adaptation of That Eye, The Sky for theatre.

Another coincidence – it was adapted by Justin Monjo and Richard Roxburgh, who also directed the play, and who both are working on The Turning.

Weaving says that first time must have been close to 20 years ago.

“(Wenham) was fairly fresh out of drama school I think. It was just after I did Priscilla,” he says.

Wenham was one of the key reasons for Weaving signing onto The Turning. But the unusual aspect of the project was also appealing.

While there are 17 short films, each with a different director, writer and cast, the stories are linked by recurring characters (although played by different actors).

Weaving says as with the book, the short films don’t appear in chronological order, instead jumping backwards and forwards in time “like an interesting mosaic or tapestry”.

In total The Turning, which was curated by producer and director Robert Connolly (Balibo), runs at three hours long. It features Australian actors including Cate Blanchett, Rose Byrne and Miranda Otto, and directors such as Mia Wasikowska, Warwick Thornton and Snowtown’s Justin Kurzel.

Weaving says people who love the book, will love the film.

“You get a very strong sense of Tim having seen the whole piece,” he says.

“The directors really love his material and that’s why they’ve been drawn to it and they love his characters…

“They’re very real people, so I think the response to it, I imagine will be very, very positive.”

* The Turning releases in Australian cinemas on September 26
* Visit http://www.theturningmovie.com.au for more info and session times

Robert Connolly gave an extended interview to the Talk Hard podcast at Quickflix, and discussed “Commission” in addition to the rest of the film; you can stream the interview online or download the full podcast via iTunes. No iPad required this time. 😉 There is a new gallery of stills from The Turning at the film’s Facebook page (the two featuring Hugo have been widely posted online) and there are glowing review at AltMedia.net, ABC and Brag Magazine, in addition to the At The Movies link mentioned earlier in the post.


Hugo Weaving and Josh McConville in “Commission”

Macbeth

Hugo’s casting as Macbeth continues to accrue a lot of online buzz, leading to (as yet unfounded) speculation about an international tour or the possible last-minute casting of Cate Blanchett as Lady Macbeth, either at STC or in a hypothetical tour to follow. I will emphasize again that any speculation about Blanchett or productions beyond the STC run next summer is wholly unsubstantiated wishful thinking at this point, but that doesn’t mean we can’t pester STC to do something about it. Unfortunately, Blanchett’s casting in this or any STC production next year would be a very long shot given her multiple-film commitment for next year. I do think that a US booking would only be guaranteed if she was part of it, unfortunately, though I’d love to be wrong. (Pamela Rabe would also be a decent choice for Lady M… and STC needs to expand its overseas brand beyond productions involving Cate at some point. I would of course love to see her onstage in any capacity, especially in Macbeth, but Hugo should be allowed an opportunity to carry a tour on his own merits as well.)

Anyhow, new articles about Macbeth and STC’s 2014 season can be read at The Sydney Morning Herald and Aussie Theatre.

Mystery Road

In addition to screenings at the Darwin International Film Festival (18 September), Busan (October 6 (2 showings), 9 and 10 (two showings)) and London Film Festival (October 10, 11 and 19), Mystery Road has been booked for a Marquee Screening at the Austin Film Festival, which runs October 24-31. (Specific dates and times TBA).  Alas, I have commitments that week which would preclude the travel required to attend, and will have to keep hoping for east-coast US screenings. But I do think Mystery Road is a perfect fit for Austin. Note: The Darwin Deckchair Cinema schedule also includes Tim Winton’s The Turning, so Hugo fans in Northern Australia will definitely want to look into attending.

You can read the latest reviews of Mystery Road at Cinemablographer, Scene Creek and Exclaim.ca. I think some of these comparisons to the doom-laden ouvre of Cormac McCarthy and to tidy, genre-bound Westerns alike a somewhat misguided, for the record. Ivan Sen has repeatedly noted that presenting a neatly packaged murder mystery where all questions are answered and motives and actions thoroughly explored for the viewer was never his intention. Of course, viewers will have to decide for themselves whether or not the film works for them.

UPDATE: The Turning

Another new video featurette for Tim Winton’s The Turning featuring a Hugo Weaving interview has been posted online, this time at AAP. Like the Ten News video, this features film footage and comments from Hugo, producer Robert Connolly and director Mia Wasikowska, but a different interviewer and questions. Hugo’s bit starts about 3 minutes in.

Also: ABC has a different featurette with a Rob Connolly interview about how the project came together (Wasikowska and Cate Blanchett also comment briefly.) And the latest positive review can be read at Salty Popcorn.

Two New Hugo Weaving Interviews Promoting The Turning; More on STC’s Season Launch & Macbeth

STC's Macbeth

Strangely, no images from the Sydney premiere of The Turning seem to have been posted online, suggesting perhaps that there wasn't a large press presence at the event. But coverage of The Turning, and of Sydney Theatre Company's fantastic 2014 season plans have exploded; seems a lot of people worldwide really want to see Hugo Weaving play Macbeth. This might be a cue for STC to finally take up the notion of filming or simulcasting productions. Yes, touring should also be an option (even for productions that don't feature Cate Blanchett) 😉 but the uniqueness of STC's production, including an inverted theatrical staging, might be lost in other venues. Filming/simulcasting would give fans worldwide the opportunity to share in the experience and would give all of those curious about STC's theaters who can't always afford Australian vacations the opportunity to see what Australian fans have been raving about for so many years. The Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre and New York's Metropolitan Opera broaden their audiences and bring in added revenue through global simulcasting. I know it's not the same as seeing the plays in person, and I want to see Hugo play Macbeth perhaps more than I've wanted to see any other play in my life… but not every production can tour, and those that do can't reach all the fans who want to see them. So again I'll beg the STC… please film and simulcast this. And I'll keep going to see any productions you bring to the US.

You can read more about the STC's 2014 Season (which also includes the tantalizing prospects of Richard Roxburgh as Cyrano de Bergerac and Bryan Brown in David Williamson's Travelling North) at The Brisbane Times, The Australian (which erroneously suggests Hugo will play Hamlet instead of Macbeth… well, he did  once play Gertrude) ;), Theatre People, Time Out Sydney, Broadsheet,  and The Guardian. Thew STC has already posted a starter page for Macbeth, including a downloadable high-res portrait of Hugo (a larger version of the image below, featured in the 2014 season programme.)

I'll post the print versions of The Sydney Morning Herald and Daily Telegraph's articles about STC's 2014 season below a cut:

STC posted a nice selection of photos from the launch event to their Facebook page, including this one of Hugo with Andrew Upton:

If you'd like slightly larger versions of the threeGetty/Zimbio photos I posted in the previous entry (or high-res pics of Cate Blanchett at the same event) you can find them at Just Jared.

Tim Winton's The Turning

As amazing as all the Macbeth news has been recently, there's been even more on Tim Winton's The Turning, despite the lack of premiere night pics. (To be fair, the film's world premiere at the Melbourne International Film Fest was lavishly covered at the time.) Hugo and several of the film's directors have been taking on a lot of the promotional duties for the film. Hugo and producer Robert Connolly sat for audio interviews with ABC Radio on the program Final Cut; you can stream or download the audio here. There's also a complimentary review of the film (and some audio of Hugo's role). In addition to The Turning, Hugo discusses his widely variant career, why he seeks out challenge and why he favors independent Australian productions above all.

Hugo also gave an interview to Sunday Telegraph's Sunday Style magazine which covered even broader territory, including his family's performing arts tradition, the possibilities of directing just as his pal David Wenham has, and why he'd choose Tick in Priscilla as the role he'd most like to revisit. (Something I mused about here not too long go, amusingly. Though I suggested the three reunite over the passing of Bob, Bernadette's companion, which would allow for a nice tribute to the late Bill Hunter.) Though Hugo has done new photo sessions recently, they opted to use a 2010 pic (a very nice one, granted) taken at STC's Wharf Theatre to accompany the piece. That's right below the cut, as is Sydney Morning Herald Spectrum's cover piece on The Turning, which features a David Wenham interview and a great new pic of Hugo and David on the set.



So we might see Hugo Weaving direct David Weham in a compendium piece at some point. I'm certainly up for that, and it's always great to have assistance from Wenham's fan community in finding material. 😉  The digital version of the Spectrum preview is available at WA Today (without as many pictures), but so far the Sunday Style has only appeared in print editions. So we still don't know who Hugo did the AAP photo session for… meaning there's likely more to come as the film's release date approaches. Note: if anyone has the iPad app noted at the end of the Sunday Style which unlocks exclusive interview content, please let me know. I don't have the budget to join The Apple Cult, and am always infuriated when content is made exclusive to the select few like this. If I buy a newspaper, I shouldn't have to pay additional fees or have expensive technology to read a complete piece.

Mystery Road

Not as much new news on this film, as Hugo's been busy on other projects, but Ivan Sen's TIFF interview has been posted online by the Toronto Star/Red Carpet Diaries. All three TIFF screenings of Mystery Road sold out and there's (yet unconfirmed) buzz that the film will play a few US festivals after its visits to Busan and the London Film Festival. I'll share any news that becomes official.

Hugo Weaving to play Macbeth for STC Next Year; Updates on Mystery Road, The Mule, The Turning

I was hoping to have coverage of The Turning’s Sydney premiere (which took place yesterday) by this point, but there’s been disappointingly little online coverage of the event so far. I will share any news/photos that I find when/if they appear, but in the meantime some even more exciting news has emerged in the past few hours: Sydney Theatre Company has announced its 2014 season, and Hugo Weaving is scheduled to tackle the title role in Shakespeare’s Macbeth for the first time in his career, in a production slated for a generous 21 July – 27 September run next year. Alas, there’s no word whether this (or Waiting for Godot, Hugo’s late 2013 STC production) will tour. I keep hoping STC will one day start filming or simulcasting productions, because it’s kind of gutting to miss what might well be Hugo’s most challenging work just because I happen to be in the wrong country. 😉

Remember a few posts ago when I said there was a rumor Hugo was filming something with Bryan Brown in the Sydney area? I have a feeling they might have been working on the STC brochure, as both actors are featured in separate productions. If that isn’t enough talent for one season, Richard Roxburgh will also appear in a new production of Cyrano de Bergerac. So once again I’m seething with envy at anyone in a position to get season tickets for next year. Here’s STC’s trailer for next year’s high-wattage lineup:

Here’s a virtual brochure with additional details:

(Note: STC has changed their brochure embed script to a format LJ doesn’t allow embeds; I’ve tried a work-around, but if you don’t see the brochure above, you can read it here. I’ll also embed snapshots of the pages featuring Hugo’s production as soon as I can prepare them.)

Andrew Upton, STC’s Artistic Director, gave ABC Online an interview about the new season, and said this of Hugo’s participation: “Every year I talked to Hugo about what he’s up for doing, what interests him and that kind of led to Macbeth…I think it will be a beautiful thing to see him playing that role, and it’s a great time in his career to be grappling with that role.” STC will also experiment with the staging of the piece, in effect having the audience and actors switch places:  ““…so the audience will be sitting on the stage, looking back into the auditorium where the action will play out. ‘I really am interested in any audience having a new experience of a theatre like that,” Upton said. ‘It is quite a defined space, so the opportunity to turn that around and turn it on its ear is a great opportunity for our loyal audiences who know the space well and will now see it completely differently, but it’s also just a great opportunity for the theatre.’ ” There’s also a summary of STC’s 2014 season in The Daily Telegraph.

Tim Winton’s The Turning

So far, all I’ve found concerning the Turning premiere are a couple of new reviews:

James Rudd, Glam Adelaide: “The film is made up of 18 self-contained stories of Australian life, lovingly crafted by 18 different directors. Each director brings something distinctive to the mix, ensuring no two chapters are alike. Reoccurring characters and beautiful Australian scenery tie all the pieces together into an interwoven whole that is satisfyingly complex. These connections are often so subtle that it is easy to miss them, but are heartbreaking when they are revealed…

Featuring stars such as Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett and directed by emerging and established Australian artists such as Stephen Page, Anthony Lucas and Marieka Walsh, The Turning is a truly Australian endeavour. The directors obviously understand the country very well and capture the essence of both rural and urban settings perfectly. The casting, for the most part, was also pretty spot-on…

While The Turning is big, it is also quiet. The rarity of dialogue or any sounds whatsoever makes the vastness seem all the more vast and the subtle expressions of the actors more significant. The Turning evokes more emotions with a single shot than many films do with entire speeches. The film’s minimalism draws us into a hypnotic trance and magnifies the simplest actions until they become almost horrifying. The film can go from charming to disturbing with ease, which I believe is a testament to both Winton and the directors.”

Tim Kroenert, Eureka Street: “The Turning is long, but patience bears fruit. The recasting of characters from one story to the next — notably, the shift from Indigenous to Anglo-Australian actors and back — may be disorientating, but it is also a neat way of blurring delineations of Australian identity. Some of the connections between stories are obvious — details such as a young girl’s missing ring finger, or another girl’s facial birthmark, are referenced in multiple stores. But the subtler, fundamental connections will be most resonant if they arise organically through the accumulation of thematic threads — of love, loss, family, friendship and identity — that are contained within each lyrical tidbit.”

Cathy, Creative Drinks: “The Turning mixed great established actors like Cate Blanchett, Rose Byrne and Hugo Weaving with yet unheard of up-and-coming actors… The acting in each story was excellent and did a great job of transporting you from your cinema seat into the various worlds presented in The Turning….

Overall The Turning is an interesting film but would definitely appeal to the more seasoned and arty film-watcher than your typical blockbuster moviegoer.”

Mystery Road

Aaron Pedersen, Ivan Sen and Ryan Kwanten have continued doing publicity for Mystery Road at the Toronto Film Festival, where all three screenings of the film have sold out. Response continues to be largely positive. Here’s a brief interview Pedersen gave the Toronto Star/Red Carpet Diary:

In addition to prominent showcases at the London Film Festival and Busan Film Festival next month, Mystery Road will be the opening night presentation at the ImagiNATIVE Film and Media Arts festival in Toronto on October 16, showing in the same theatre where it premiered last week at TIFF. More details at Broadway World Movies.

The Turning and Mystery Road are also both eligible for Best Picture at next year’s AACTA Awards, two of fifteen films from which five eventual nominees will be chosen this fall.

The Mule

While doing press for Insidious Part 2, Leigh Whannell has been dropping a few hints about The Mule, which apparently wrapped filming recently. Though we weren’t given any new details on Hugo’s character, these interviews suggest strongly that he isn’t playing the title character, who’ll probably be played by Whannell himself. Here are the pertinent quotes from both interviews:

Collider: “The Mule is a film that I just wrapped shooting a few weeks ago in Australia.  We shot a little in Bangkok as well.  This is a film I wrote with Angus Sampson and we’ve been writing it over the last few years.  It’s a crime thriller/black comedy about a drug mule who gets caught at Melbourne airport in 1983.  So technology for catching drug mules isn’t like it is today, it’s in its very early stages.  The police take him in and while he’s custody this guy, who’s a pretty naïve guy, he’s not an experienced drug mule, he’s like this hapless guy, he decides he’s going to deal with this situation by keeping the drugs in his stomach for as long as he can – basically not going to the toilet.  And so the tickling clock of the film becomes when is this guy going to let these drugs out?  [Laughs] How long can he hold on?  Literally and figuratively.  And the longer it goes on, this standoff, the more everyone around him is kind of dragged into it – his family, the criminals who own the drugs in his stomach, the police.  I’m really excited about it.”

Den of Geek: ” I just did another film with him in Australia called The Mule, which is a film Angus and I wrote, and we shot it in Australia. We have Hugo Weaving, and it’s very different. It’s kind of a drama, almost Fargo-esque crime thriller about a drug mule. It was really interesting to act in that film, because it was so different from doing Specs and Tucker. I really felt like an actor, I was working out how this character walked and talked and smoked. I do have fun playing Specs [in the Insidious films], but weirdly enough, shooting this film in Australia has really made me want to throw myself into acting more and see where that takes me.”

I don’t recall any of the Coen brothers’ films hinging on medically questionable constipation plots. 😉 Nor am I really a fan of the Saw and Insidious films, but Whannell is going out of his way to describe this movie as something completely different from those, so I’m trying to hope for the best. Though it’s more than a bit frustrating to think that international audiences get this while Australians (and those with lavish travel budgets) get Macbeth. But I can’t really fault any of the feature film or play choices Hugo has made in the past couple of years– it’s an intriguing, diverse mix. And I’d rather that Hugo star in plays I can’t see than movies (like Transformers and Captain America) that I WON’T see. 😉

BREAKING NEWS: We’ve got pics of the STC’s 2014 Season Launch!

Hugo Weaving and Andrew Upton   Photo: Marianna Massey/Getty Images via Zimbio (plus next 2)

Here are the STC 2014 Season brochure pages for Macbeth:

Trivia: While Hugo hasn’t played Macbeth before, he has costarred in the play, portraying the symbolically-named messenger Seyton in a 1980s production. And of course he quoted some lines from the play in the scene in V for Vendetta where V rescues Evey from the Fingermen. 😉

Here’s another new SC promo image, posted at Time Out Sydney:

Photo: Michele Aboud

The accompanying article featured Andrew Upton’s perspective on the play and the unique staging STC plans; here’s the text:

“Kip Williams takes a giant step up from Under Milk Wood and Romeo and Juliet, to take on not only Shakespeare, and not only with Hugo Weaving in the lead, but in the Sydney Theatre.

 

This bold production will seat 300-or-so audience members on risers on the stage, and the actors in the auditorium. Williams had the idea during a stint as assistant director to Andrew Upton on The White Guard, and the two took the conversation up again earlier this year, re-visiting the theatre.

 

“The proscenium theatre is an old-fashioned thing,” says Upton. “There’s a sort of courtly shape to the theatre, a sense of hierarchy – the masses versus the upper class. And then the empty seats almost give a sense of this graveyard, creepy – a sense of things coming out of the dark at you.”

 

Nick Schlieper and Alice Babidge (behind the visually ravishing staging of The Maids) will be upping the creepiness factor with lighting and set design, respectively.

 

Macbeth is Upton’s favourite Shakespeare – “for the rather banal reason that I studied in the most depth, because it was an HSC text,” he laughs.

 

Macbeth is part of the Sydney Theatre Company 2014 season; season tickets on sale September 17; single tickets on sale December 2 for first half of year; February for second half of year.”