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
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. 😉
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.