Monthly Archives: October 2013

Waiting For Godot Preview with new Hugo Weaving Interview; New Hobbit Expanded Edition Scenes

I don’t have time for an extended entry today, but wanted to pass along a great new print-media interview and preview for Sydney Theatre Company’s Waiting For Godot starring Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh, which begins performances next month at the Sydney Theatre. Daily Telegraph published an interview with all four cast members (the other two being Luke Mullins and Philip Quast) and some amazing new photos as part of their Godot cover story (in their Best Weeked section) on October 26. The full article plus a newspaper ad for Tim Winton’s The Turning are all under the cut:

Hardcore Ringers are probably already up on the details of the lavish new Expanded Edition package for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, but I thought I’d cross-post some of the Elrond sequences which have begun appearing online. The DVD/Blu-Ray comes out on November 5; given my experience preferring the extended cuts of Lord of the Rings to the choppy theatrical versions, I’d been holding out for this one. Turns out my suspicions were correct, and a great deal of Rivendell footage was edited from the initial release of AUJ. Though I agree that the film was too long even in edited form, I’d have much rather seen these scenes that the repetitive battle sequences against too-similar CG foes. It’s also a bit frustrating that the filmmakers keep using Hugo’s name to sell these films, but chopping so many of his scenes out of the theatrical versions of the films. (I’d also like a straight answer on whether or not Elrond actually appears in The Desolation of Smaug– I’ll see the film regardless, but I keep seeing Hugo’s name duly repeated in cast lists with no evidence of him in any promotional footage or tie-ins.) It would make narrative sense that Elrond isn’t in this part of the story and returns in the final installment, but I hope there’s some sort of cameo, at least, in DOS.  But I think it’s safe to assume that most of Elrond’s scenes were in the first film.

Anyhow, CNN debuted a scene featuring Elrond and Gandalf debating the wisdom of Thorin’s quest as Bilbo and Thiorin eavesdrop; TheOneRing.net posted their standard, thorough coverage of the AUJ:EE package, including a detailed rundown of all the deleted scenes.

These are the Elrond-centric scenes which are currently on YouTube: I have no idea how long they’ll remain up, so catch a glimpse while you can! (Note to Warner Bros: Don’t worry. We’re all going to buy these DVDs/Blu-Rays. Don’t be so stingy about these fan sneak-previews. You already have collected tons of our money and will soon have more.)


Rivendell Dinner Scene (Nioma Oakenshield, via YouTube)


Elrond and Lindir discuss their guests in Elvish; Elrond and Gandalf debate Thorin’s quest; Gratuitous Dwarf Nudity (Nioma Oakenshield, via YouTube)

And here’s the lovely scene featuring Elrond and Bilbo that most of you have already seen:

A longer version of this scene, featuring Bilbo exploring Rivendell, is posted here; this version bridges to the Elvish chat sequence and Dwarf bathing scene. There’s also a brief exchange between Saruman and Gandalf about the fate of the Ring of Power and the “lesser rings”  (as Galadriel and Elrond look on) here; this was edited from the “conference” scene featuring these four characters in the theatrical cut.

Also in Hobbit news:  On November 4 there will be a “live global event” from four different cities–Los Angeles, New York, London and Wellington, NZ– simulcast on YouTube. Peter Jackson will participate, “to show exclusive footage from the new film and answer questions in front of a live audience, as well as offer a few surprises.” TORN has info on how to get tickets to any of the four site-specific events, and there are also details at World News Views. The live simlulcast begins 4 November at 5pm ET, 2pm PT, 10pm GMT; here’s a full time zone conversion chart (courtest TORN, again) if you’re in a different location.

Advertisements

Hugo Weaving Confirmed To Costar in Kim Farrant’s Strangerland with Nicole Kidman & Guy Pearce

There’s some wonderful news to report today about a long-dormant project Hugo Weaving has long been linked to: Kim Farrant’s outback mystery-thriller Strangerland. Inside Film and Variety are confirming Nicole Kidman has signed on, joining the two long-rumored male costars. The plot concerns an Australian couple whose teenage children disappear into the Outback, and the subsequent investigation and emotional fallout this events causes.

“Long haul” fans might remember that the first reports of the project surfaced circa 2006-7, with Hugo slated to star as a policeman investigating the disappearance and Anthony LaPaglia and Gia Carrides to star as the distraught couple. Later they dropped out and Guy Pearce’s name appeared on the film’s “in development” website Kim Farrant was always slated to direct, and the synopsis hasn’t changed since the early announcements. But the project went dormant after a year or so of rumors, and a lot of us fans wondered if it hadn’t joined the pile of promising Australian project Hugo has been connected to over the years that, for whatever reasoning (usually financing issues) never got made. Coincidentally, Weaving and Kidman were previously signed to costar in one of those films, Eucalyptus, which was infamously scuttled by costar Russell Crowe during the first few days of filming. (Director Jocelyn Moorhouse, who made Proof, was to direct.) The cancellation of Eucalyptus enabled Hugo to star in V for Vendetta, which he’d initially turned down (yes, he WAS the Wachowskis first choice, and James Purefoy replaced him before he replaced Purefoy)… so most fans think that worked out pretty well.

But I’d always hoped Strangerland would eventually get the green light, and Craig Monahan’s ordeals getting each of his three films with Hugo made (The Interview, Peaches, Healing) demonstrate the patience a lot of talented Australian filmmakers are forced to have in getting cherished projects off the ground. It’s probable that signing Kidman was key to securing financing, and it’ll be great to see her in a strong leading role again… Hollywood has been very spotty in providing decent work for her in recent years.  There’s no specific role confirmation in either of the reports I linked to, but if Hugo is still playing the investigator, it’ll be another in a recent spate of cop roles. (He plays a drug squad cop in Mystery Road, an ex-cop in Healing and a prison official in Healing… and I suspect he’s playing a cop in The Mule, too, though his role specifics haven’t yet been announced.) Interesting how much variety these films and roles have, though, beyond the one similarity. There are no details yet on the film’s shooting or release schedule, or how Hugo might juggle this and the previously-announced One Foot Wrong along with his role in Macbeth next year.  I am impressed with pretty much all of his recent role choices in both films and plays. He’s certainly busting out of the “nerd movie” ghetto, though I hope fans of the Big Trilogies have enjoyed the smaller films too.

Other details about Strangerland: The script is by Fiona Seres and Michael Kinirons, and the film will be distributed by Transmission in Australia and the France-based Wild Bunch internationally. The film is tentatively scheduled for a 2015 release.  I’ll share any additional details as they become available. Kim Farrant previously directed the thoughtful body image documentary Naked On The Inside, which played on US cable TV in 2007.

UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter adds a few more details from the film’s press release: “The story centers on Catherine and Matthew Parker, whose relationship is pushed to the brink when their two teenage children disappear into the remote Australian desert and they are forced to confront the mystery of their children’s fate….Kim Farrant’s Strangerland has … a strong creative vision and massive A-list festival potential,” Screen Australia CEO Ruth Harley said.” You can also read Screen Australia‘s full financing press release about Strangerland, Rob Connolly’s Force of Destiny (starring David Wenham) and newly green-lit films by Gillian Armstrong, Paul Cox and Jeremy Sims here. Also: The Brisbane Times/AAP posted a brief report on the news

Mystery Road

Ivan Sen’s thriller has continued to screen to acclaim in Australia and at several North American festivals this past week.

Ivan Sen has continued sitting for interviews promoting the film, as have star Aaron Pedersen and supporting actor Jack Thompson. Hugo has probably been unavailable for promotional duties because he’s in the middle of rehearsals for Waiting For Godot, which begins its STC run next month. But the cast/director interviews are all well worth a look, as the more thoughtful journalists have asked a lot of interesting thematic questions, which Sen has answered thoroughly without (in most cases) divulging too much or robbing the audience of their own interpretations. Hugo’s character seems to be drawing the most diverse interpretation, though all are agreed its a brilliant performance. I think Johnno’s ambiguity is a part of why he’s so fascinating, and the fact that some viewers think he’s an absolute villain and others a tortured hero amuses me to no end. (For the record, I don’t think he’s either, but I won’t tell much more until more fans are able to see the film and develop heir own take.)

Anyhow: the latest promotional interviews:

Ivan Sen: Cinema Australia, The Guardian
Sen and Aaron Pedersen: Concrete Playground
Ryan Kwanten: Sydney Morning Herald

And Jim Schembri spoke to Aaron Pedersen and Ivan Sen for Film Quote Compile/3AW (via YouTube):


Part One


Part Two

And here’s a wonderfully in-depth interview with Jack Thompson and production manager Craig Deeker, taped at the London Film Festival by TasticFilm:

You can read the latest batch of well-written reviews at Issimo Magazine, Film Carew/themusic.com.au, Junkee, Cinephilia, Rip It Up, InDaily, Quip Magazine, Dr Frootloop, City News, Pretty Clever Films, The Arts Scene, Jabba At The Movies/Sunrise 7 (video review), The Australian, 3AW Blogs, HeyUGuys, Catholic Church Australia, Greg King, and The Momus Report.

In Other Hugo News

New reviews for Tim Winton’s The Turning are at Dr Frootloop, Woroni.com.au, Inside.org and Flick Chick.

Variety confirms that Hugo Weaving’s role as the “presenter” of Anand Gandhi in Australia will involve a name-above-the-title credit as well as other unspecified promotional duties for the film’s November 7 release.

And, though I remain unconvinced that Hugo Weaving has a substantial role in The Desolation of Smaug, it’s always a delight to read Ian McKellen’s take on playing Gandalf again, this time in a Dark Horizons interview.

My Mystery Road Review + Coverage, Interviews; Hugo Weaving to Present Ship of Theseus in Australia

I was lucky enough to attend a screening of Ivan Sen’s Mystery Road on Monday, overcoming some travel/timing logistic complications (and, frankly, bad directions posted on the Hamptons Film Fest website) to arrive just in the nick of time. Fortunately all of the frustrations and challenges (including having to sprint from one end of East Hampton to the other after being misdirected to the main ticket office– NOT the screening venue– by the aforementioned website) ended up being very much worth it, and I’m thrilled to be able to recommend this film to all thinking audiences, without reservation.

It should probably said that, as a person running a Hugo Weaving fan blog, I could be accused of lacking objectivity. 😉 But over the years, I’ve alienated a lot of people because I think being a good fan means being objective and true to one’s own tastes and values, not in gleefully rubber-stamping everything an actor or artist does with equal abandon. While I’ll automatically see most–but definitely not ALL– of Hugo Weaving’s films, I certainly haven’t loved them all equally. Some end up being guilty pleasures (hellooooo Wolfman!) and others are disappointing despite Hugo’s solid performances (The Tender Hook, Strange Planet) and the less said about the post-Agent Smith one-dimensional cartoon villain roles, the better.  I’m having a hard time building up much enthusiasm for the next Hobbit installment either, because, while the first wasn’t an outright failure, it was a bit of a slog, reinforcing my belief that actors and directors shouldn’t keep returning to their most famous work expecting lightning to strike in the same place. Also, I have no strong assurance Hugo Weaving is actually in The Desolation of Smaug very much. (That said, I will see the film and hope PJ has worked out his pacing issues.)

Having (mostly) completed my review, I’ll warn readers that, in spite of taking care not to give too much away, I probably have given too many hints about some things. All lengthy reviews wander into that territory. So if you want Mystery Road to remain… well… mysterious, please read this and other detailed reviews after you’ve seen the film. But I do strongly encourage you to see it.

Mystery Road has received generally warm reviews and very few outright negative ones, but there have been regular gripes about pacing and questions left unanswered. Since I’m assuming most fans reading this are familiar with the film’s plot synopsis through trailers, previews and other reviews, I won’t spend a lot of time going over that. I think too many reviewers have already divulged too much on that score. But I do want to dispute a lot of the negative charges leveled at the film by critics who have trouble sitting still and paying attention. Yes, the film is long, but not too long. I frankly wouldn’t edit a frame of it.  The plot doesn’t meander very much, and is blessedly free of the sort of red herring obfuscation most US procedurals (and too many UK procedurals) lean heavily on.  Every scene either has a direct bearing on the mystery’s solution or elucidates the dire circumstances various suspects, witnesses and other locals are up against. I was at rapt attention through the whole thing, and thought that the film answered most of the pertinent questions about the crime at the heart of the story. Of course, the social unrest and race/class tension that permeate the town and story are less easily resolved, and Sen doesn’t try to lecture viewers or offer easy solutions. I will definitely want to watch the film again (probably many times) to tease out some minor character details and links in Jay Swan’s evidenciary chain, but I wasn’t baffled by the conclusion, nor did I need Sen to neatly tie everything together and have Swan carefully explain everything the way cops in bad TV shows always seem to.

I was impressed by Sen’s confidence in his audience and their ability to follow the story without a lot of narrative hand-holding. You will have to pay attention to a lot of visual cues and seemingly-incidental conversations. But Swan is told by his Sergeant (Tony Barry) near the beginning of the film, after the body which sets off the film’s central mystery is found, that he’ll have to work the case alone. This means there are few opportunities for the sort of buddy-cop conversations which explain the evidence and theories about whodunnit to the audience. For one thing, it’s clear from the start that none of Swan’s fellow officers are really his buddies. Nor does he have a constant, snarky interior monologue running in the manner of Raymond Chandler characters. But Swan is methodical and observant viewers should have no trouble empathizing with him or following his process. Aaron Pedersen owns the movie, appearing in nearly every scene, and providing its steady moral center. Some viewers have found him laconic or hard to relate to, but I didn’t. This isn’t a stylized genre picture– in fact, I found frequent comparisons between this and the Coen brothers’ films (or David Lynch) a bit deceptive. Though I love those directors, their films aren’t as thoroughly grounded in the real world as Sen’s is. They often play the role of capricious creators who delight in putting their characters through outlandish miseries and setbacks before offering a reprieve (or not)… Sen, on the other hand, intends us to empathize with Jay Swan and view the events of the story through his eyes. I found it refreshing that Swan never needed to monologue or toss off smartass catchphrases, or swagger like characters in old-school Westerns (or Tarantino films.) Some viewers need that level of escapist entertainment in everything they watch. I don’t, and would have found it crass and distracting in a carefully constructed, quietly profound film like this.

The film is visually beautiful despite the poverty and dire circumstances most of its characters face. The story doesn’t tug at the heartstrings like Sen’s earlier film Beneath Clouds; its protagonist is older and more acquainted with the inequity his community faces, and his own limitations. It is fair to call the story a “slow burn”, but that’s in no way a negative. The film’s trailer, while magnetic, is a bit more heavy-handed than the film itself, full of propulsive, melodramatic music heard nowhere in the film, and implying Swan offers withering moral lectures at regular intervals. No. not really… though one never doubts the character’s integrity, anger and determination. The film also doesn’t soft-pedal the problems of the aboriginal community, including alcoholism and other addictions, which led to the breakup of Swan’s marriage. (Tasma Walton plays his brittle, antagonistic ex and problematic custodial parent of his daughter, who knew the murdered girl and might know more about her death than she’s telling.) Swan admits at one point he’s caught between two worlds; his fellow policemen don’t treat him as an equal, and his community think that by joining their ranks, he’s betrayed them. Swan is reluctant to accept assistance, in fact, because he knows that any city cops brought in to help will probably harass the native community further and make racial strife worse.

The acting is superlative all around, with the unfortunate exception of Samara Weaving, who’s flat and implausible in her brief scene as a young police officer’s widow.  I’m deliberately not offering too many details about the most famous actors in the film, how they interact with Pedersen and how they’re involved in the main plot, because experiencing this is one of the film’s chief pleasures, and I don’t want to spoil it. I will repeat how refreshing I found it that Swan’s investigation is on-target throughout, meaning skeevy, suspicious characters he interviews are, in fact, involved in the case in some way and are not red herrings who behave suspiciously due to completely unrelated secrets. 😉 Ryan Kwanten’s fans will probably be somewhat disappointed that he has only three scenes, only speaks in one, and that this scene has been revealed in previews. But he does a solid job besmirching his dimwitted-but-well-meaning hunk image. David field plays his equally repellent father. Bruce Spense is an unmitigated delight as the quirky coroner, who’s obsessed with a possible evolutionary trend in the local dog population. (More on those dogs later…) Tony Barry is both fatherly and patronizing as Swan’s detached boss. Damian Walshe-Howling plays a seedy local drug dealer (and police informant) with verve. Jack Thompson has one scene, but a memorable one, as a lonely outsider who might have seen something pertinent.

I’m saving Hugo Weaving for last because, apart from Pedersen, he makes the biggest impression. But saying too much about his character would be unfair, particularly to fans. (In fact, I’d chide Ivan Sen and Hugo himself for giving a bit too much away before the film’s release.) It’s evident from early scenes that his character Johnno (the character’s real name is Johnny Bush, but that’s only noted once on a police document) is suspected of involvement in the case by Swan almost from the outset. And Johnno’s behavior and smiling condescension (you could also read his constantly calling Jay “boy” as racist) in the face of this suspicion doesn’t improve his image.  But the character has more complexity in just five or so scenes that all five of Hugo Weaving’s characters in Cloud Atlas had combined. And, unlike his most famous characters, Johnno doesn’t monologue about his deeds or intentions. In fact, pretty much everything he says, Jay has to learn to read between the lines. It’s a delicious performance offering many shades of gray, and some aspects of the character remain elusive even after the final scene.

But I do need to stress that while there are often long stretches of time between Hugo Weaving’s scenes, I wasn’t checking my watch the way I did during, say, The Matrix Reloaded. The cast and storytelling won’t allow that. Yes, you will have to pay attention. Meaning if you are constantly yapping with your friends or checking your Twitter feed DURING THE SCREENING (as some in the Hamptons audience– and, alas, a lot of film screenings I attend lately– were) you might miss something that won’t be hammered into your thick skull later.

The film has several obvious thematic strands (racism, poverty, rural isolation and the crimes these engender) but some less weighty ones as well. The film’s take on Australian male behavior was consistently amusing– the frequent conversations about guns are never just about guns. 😉 And it’s interesting that Swan uses his high-power rifle’s sight to observe others from a distance as often as he does to take aim and fire– though he’s no slouch in that department. Then there are the dogs, both wild and domesticated. Some critics have gotten hung up on the dogs, treating them as a humorous nonsequitur that doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the film. My take is different. Yes, the dogs can be seen as a metaphor for human malevolence, as Jack Thompson said in a recent interview, but they’re also a valid plot point. Though many characters mention packs of “wild dogs” menacing the area, the only wild dog seen is dead, poisoned by the locals. Meanwhile, many players in the investigation own large domestic dogs, and these are seen frequently throughout the film. So they’re both a visual metaphor and an actual lead. The only time I found them particularly humorous was in Bruce Spense’s commentary, and he’s a funny character. I didn’t see a lot of unintentional humor in the film, though many scenes have dry, darkly humorous elements that must be intended– particularly a sequence set at a dive motel called From Dusk to Dawn. Most of the critics who’ve commented on unintentional humor seem a bit crass and juvenile to me now that I’ve seen the film. The final shootout is in no way humorous… those who find it so would probably be better off renting Pacific Rim or the like.

If there are flaws in the film, they’re relatively minor, and most are probably rooted in the logistic complications of assembling a cast of this quality. For example, it’s clear during the final shootout that not all of the actors were in the same location at the same time. 😉 But it’s far more dramatic to imply they all are than to shoot a series of disjointed scenes is which Swan tracks down all of the players individually. And there might have been a few too many aerial tracking shots of Swan driving through the streets of town chasing down another lead, though the progression helps us understand Swan’s isolation and doggedness. (No canine pun intended– Swan’s character is one of the few without a dog.) 😉 And, as I mentioned before, Samara Weaving failed to convince me (here, at least) that she’s inherited her family’s acting gene. But in general, this is the sort of film that rewards repeat viewings because it trusts you to keep up and figure things out for yourselves.

I want to stress that I’m not insulting the other directors or genres mentioned here– I often enjoy pure-entertainment movies or unrealistic action films with villains who monologue. 😉 But I think some of the comparisons made between those films and Mystery Road don’t really fit. For example, this film bears little resemblance to LA Confidential or No Country For Old Men. I liked it a bit better than either of them, though they’re both virtuoso directorial efforts with decent casts. (I personally prefer the Coens’ original work to their adaptations, and admired No Country’s cinematography and sound design more than I cared about any of its characters.)  If you go to this film seeking witty (but unnatural) banter, frequent car chases or other action tropes, you’ll be disappointed. On the other hand, Sen also eschews the hectoring social commentary of many independent films about Important Social Issues. The film never indulges Oscar-bait speechifying about racism or class inequity. it’s neither a paint-by-numbers genre film OR social drama, and by dodging the worst cliches of both, creates something viscerally fresh and involving.

Sorry to go on there… if I had a lot of extra time I’d edit that down a bit, possibly reorganize it. I’m still putting my thoughts about the film in order, so this is less refined than a formal review. But then. no one’s paying me to be a Formal Reviewer, and I’ve found some people who do get paid for their opinions have misrepresented the film. I’m reminded of David Stratton’s mixed review on At The Movies, which gripes about confusion, and all the plot strands not being neatly tied up at the film’s end. One of the initial comments on the review (by actor Roy Billing) noted “It’s all there if you watch carefully.” And he’s right. Yes, there are some scenes I already know I’ll want to watch again to see how Jay Swan got from point A to Point B, but that’s a good thing. It’s a rare and wonderful thing to be genuinely outwitted by a protagonist (and writer/director) rather than sideswiped with implausible rug-puling twists and repeated red herrings.

Mystery Road Coverage

Mystery Road opens wide in Australia today (it’s October 17 in Australia as I type this), so coverage has continued to appear frequently online… I’ll do my best to assemble everything since my previous post below.

Ivan Sen gave promotional interviews to SBS (video from Sydney Film Festival), to Movieland/ABC Sydney (audio interview with producer David Jowsey), Radio Adelaide and RTR FM. Aaron Pedersen spoke to Quickflix and Beat Magazine, Pedersen and Sen gave joint interviews to The Blurb, IBTimes News and The West Australian.  Tasma Walton, whose central contribution to the film deserves more mention, spoke to Transcontinental.com.au. And Jack Thompson gave an informative, entertaining perspective to FredFilmRadio.

Queensland Country Life posted a story about the filming location, Winton, QLD, and interviewed some locals who had key roles in the film.

Well-written and/or positive reviews can be read at The Arts Desk, The Film Blerg, Urban Cinefile, The Toronto Star (also includes coverage of the film’s ImagiNATIVE Toronto screening), Cinema Axis, Concrete Playground, The Weekly Review, The Film Emporium, Quickflix, FilmInk, Dork Shelf, FILMDetail, Weekend Notes, EAM Ediciones (in Spanish), and Reel Good.

Here are the latest promo clips from Sydney Film Festival’s YouTube channel:


Tony Barry: The Story of Sarge


David Jowsey: Mystery Road, The Western


Ryan Kwanten: The Story of Pete Bailey

Yes, they’re keeping videos about Hugo’s character under wraps… for now. 😉 Though it could be argued any hints give away too much.

Ship of Theseus

Apart from Mystery Road, the big Hugo Weaving story of the day has been his role in helping a promising, well-reviewed Indian film, Ship of Theseus, find an audience in Australia. Several news outlets, including Times of India, Gossip Gravy and IndiaGlitz, have posted a press release with the news that the actor will serve as “presenter” of Anand Gandhi’s film in its Australian release. This usually means there will be an introductory credit saying “Hugo Weaving Presents…” at the beginning of the film– sort of an endorsement. I’ve seen this promotional tactic used in the US, mainly using the clout of well-known directors to promote work by less-famous filmmakers who’ve inspired or influenced them in some way. (David Lynch has served in this role a few times; Quentin Tarantino has made a secondary career out of it, often including his rapturous commentaries in the DVD releases of favorite indie and exploitation flicks.) Robert Redford would probably be the most famous actor who does this regularly. I have no idea if Hugo’s involvement will extend past the screen credit to a filmed introduction or press appearances; it’ll be interesting to find out. Fans may remember that Hugo and Anand Gandhi both served as jurors at this year’s Sydney Film Festival, and (probably) cast dissenting votes during controversial its final awards decision. Ship of Theseus premiered at SFF and has since made many other festival appearances. Like a certain film Hugo Weaving fans might have heard of, it has a blind photographer as a protagonist, but it probably doesn’t have a lot else in common with Proof, aside from positive reviews. I was already planning on seeing it, so I don’t need Hugo’s persuasion, but it’s charming of him to do this. He would probably be amused that coverage keeps referring to him as a “Hollywood star”, though he’s never worked in Hollywood and avoids celebrity trappings whenever possible…


Hugo Weaving and Anand Gandhi at the 2013 Sydney Film Festival this past June

In Other Hugo Weaving News

There’s another positive review of Tim Winton’s The Turning at The Reel World.

US fans can finally add Mystery Road to their Netflix Saved queues: even if you plan on buying the eventual DVD/Blu-Ray, doing this helps provide an indication of demand for a film, and can help its distribution.

And STC’s Waiting For Godot, starring Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh, has added additional performances for its 12 November – 21 December Sydney run. Tickets are still available. And you can now buy blocks of tickets for the upcoming 2014 season, which will include Hugo as Macbeth.

Mystery Road Promotion Including New Hugo Weaving Interview; The Turning Special Release Extended

Mystery Road

With Ivan Sen’s film opening wide in Australia on October 17 and playing festivals worldwide this week and through the rest of October, promotion has kicked into high gear, with a series of new print and web previews.  The most interesting of these to Hugo Weaving fans will probably be an interview run in the Brisbane Courier-Mail on October 11 featuring Hugo’s thoughts on the film (his first “Western”), as well as some interesting comments on his latest non-acting preoccupations. The piece also includes an interview with Ivan Sen. Sen and lead actor Aaron Pedersen have handled most of the promotional duties for the film, appearing at many film festivals and Australian preview screenings. I’ll include The Age’s preview of the film featuring Sen and Pedersen’s comments below the cut along with the Hugo Weaving Courier-Mail interview. (WordPress readers: Right-click on articles, then click on “Open In A New Tab/Window” for full-sized version)


Somehow, I suspect the denim uniform was the LEAST challenging aspect of Hugo’s preparation for Mystery Road. 😉 And I wonder if he’ll develop a sideline in artisanal honey the way Sam Neill has wine….

Aaron Pedersen and Ivan Sen have also given extended radio interviews to 2Ser 107.3 and News Talk 4BC 1116. Producer David Jowsey, meanwhile, was interviewed by ABC Brisbane. Online previews and interviews with Sen and Pedersen are available at The Sydney Morning Herald, Local Today/AAP, TheMusic.com.au, and Ipswich Queensland Times. Flickering Myth‘s making-of piece is perhaps the most comprehensive, but should include a spoiler warning in its discussion of Mystery Road’s filmic inspirations and how these pertain to Hugo Weaving’s character.


Tony Barry (center) and Hugo Weaving in Mystery Road

Coverage of the film’s Winton premiere (a return to its filming location): North West Star, Brisvaani Radio, News24 AUS, ABC Online News and ABC Queensland (an interesting slideshow of Ivan Sen’s tour of filming sites along with premiere coverage).

And the film’s Facebook Page featured a unique tribute to some of the actors from the Winton premiere:


Hugo Weaving as Johnno in Mystery Road (all screencaps taken from promo videos in this entry)

The latest batch of positive and/or well-written reviews for Mystery Road may be read at Flickering Myth, I Heart The TalkiesAt The Movies/ABC (includes video with new film scenes including one with Hugo at 3.07 in ), Aboriginal Art Direct, Adelaide Journal, Toeslayer’s Movie Reviews, A-List Reviews, Perth City Nights, CineVue, Glam Adelaide, The Sydney Morning Herald and Vice.

Mystery Road is currently being showcased at the London Film Festival, where its Thrill Gala premiere was held on October 10 to largely positive reviews. (There’s an additional screening October 19). Next up: An impressive selection of US film festivals including The Hamptons Film Festival (October 13, 14), Philadelphia Film Festival (October 20, 24), Hawaii International Film Festival (October 12 and 17) and Austin Film Festival (October 29). Click on the links for ticket information. I’m attending the October 14 Hamptons Film Fest screening and will post my review afterward: very excited to be seeing one of Hugo’s Australian films the same week Australians are able to instead of waiting the usual six months to three years. 😉


Aaron Pedersen in Mystery Road (finally, a look at the Chinese restaurant scene referenced by locals on Facebook during filming.) 😉

Several intriguing new promotional videos for Mystery Road have appeared in the past week; although none features a Hugo Weaving interview, I’ll embed as many as I can here, because they feature new film footage and comments from Ivan Sen, Aaron Pedersen and David Jowsey.


FilmInk:  Aaron Pedersen on Making Mystery Road


The Guardian: Aaron Pedersen interview


David Jowsey on Casting Mystery Road (via Sydney Film Festival/YouTube)


Ivan Sen on Relating to Detective Jay Swan in Mystery Road (via Sydney Film Festival/YouTube)


European Premiere/LFF Interview with Jack Thompson (via PremiereScene/YouTube)


Aaron Pedersen: The Story of Jay Swan (via Sydney Film Festival/YouTube)


Ivan Sen on casting Ryan Kwanten  (via Sydney Film Festival)


SBS Films promo clip (SBS/NITV News), Winton premiere, Footage of Sydney Film Fest incl Hugo

Tim Winton’s The Turning

The Special Australian Release of The Turning has proved popular enough to extend to additional theaters and showings, notes Inside Film.  Tickets for these are available at the film’s official website.

Positive reviews also keep pouring in. The latest can be read at When The Soup Runs Out, Broadsheet.com, Dave Cornford, and Graffiti With Punctuation.

I was able to obtain a promotional flyer for the film recently (alas, for Australian screenings only); my scans are beneath the cut.

Waiting For Godot

Some sad news to report on STC’s forthcoming production of Beckett’s Waiting For Godot, which will star Hugo Weaving as Vladmir and Richard Roxburgh as Estragon: director Tamas Ascher, who first teamed with these actors on STC’s exquisite 2010-12 production of Uncle Vanya, recently suffered a back injury which has forced him to turn over directing of the play to Andrew Upton, STC’s artistic director (and able adapter of many STC productions, including Vanya and 2004’s Hedda Gabler). The production will move ahead as scheduled despite the setback; the actors are already rehearsing. For more info, check out The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, What’s On in Sydney,  and Stage Whispers.  Meanwhile, I’ll join the chorus of those wishing Ascher a speedy recovery, and hope Upton is consulting with him from a distance. 😉

Hugo Weaving & Glendyn Ivin to Re-Team on One Foot Wrong, New Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug Trailer

I don’t have time for an elaborate entry at present, but did want to pass on some exciting news about Hugo’s next film role: he’ll be re-teaming with director Glendyn Ivin for One Foot Wrong, according to Inside Film. The film, based on a novel by Sofie Laguna (there’s a synopsis and some reviews here) is about a child abused and isolated from the world by her parents, and how she adjusts and eventually changes this situation. Though the script  was written by Greg Maclean (who will also executive produce), best known for the serial killer film Wolf Creek, this probably isn’t a rote horror film, but a psychological thriller along the lines of Terry Gilliam’s Tideland, which it sounds somewhat similar to. (That film sharply divided audiences, with some calling it the worst film of its year… but I liked it, and it’s gathered a little cult following.) Hugo’s been cast as the girl’s father, which doesn’t sound like the most complex of roles, certainly nothing like his character in Last Ride, who was abusive but obviously loved his son. And let him out of the house. Since Glendyn Ivin is attached as director, I’m still very optimistic… a lot will depend (as it did in Last Ride) on who’s cast as the child at the heart of the story. Ivin seems to have a gift for finding promising newcomers and directing children, which might be how he landed this gig.

As some of you may remember, Ivin confirmed a future collaboration with Hugo during a Live-Tweet event when Last Ride was broadcast on SBS (in Australia) back in June (you can read my coverage here… I’m the one who asked the question.) 😉 Back then he couldn’t reveal too many details, but now we finally know a few basics. Though the genre is a departure from Last Ride, the theme of child endangerment and how a child might cope with dangerous parents is still present. It’ll be interesting to see how Ivin chooses to approach this. The novel, like Last Ride, is a first-person narrative from a child’s perspective. Ivin pared down that story and gave it a visual, evocative and objective essence while maintaining the focus on Chook. One Foot Wrong sounds much more claustrophobic and interior.  Though Inside Film doesn’t give any production dates or specifics, the project will begin after Ivin completes work on an ambitious miniseries about Gallipoli… so we might have a bit of a wait.  I’m assuming filming will take place in Australia, as the novel is by an Australian writer, but IF doesn’t specify. I hope Hugo’s character is more nuanced than the novel’s descriptions make him sound… I get weary of seeing him typecast as monsters.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

As most of you probably already know, the official full-length trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug debuted yesterday on Peter Jackson’s Facebook page and was quickly crossposted all over the web shortly thereafter. I’ll embed the YouTube version below.

I’m still concerned that Hugo won’t appear in this film at all, as Elrond hasn’t made a single appearance in the promotion, and wasn’t in this part of the story in the novel. (The emphasis in Smaug moves from the Rivendell Elves (and Galadriel) to those of Mirkwood, including Lee Pace’s haughty Thranduil, Orlando Bloom’s Legolas and Evangeline Lillly’s Tauriel.) Despite promises from Peter Jackson that Tauriel wasn’t in the story just to serve as a Legolas love interest… the trailer hints rather depressingly that he’s gone back on his word. When will directors and writers figure out that female viewers– well, the smart ones, anyhow–  don’t need clumsy romance plots shoehorned into every narrative to go see a film? Apart from this unpleasant development, though, the film looks good, possibly more excitingly paced than its predecessor. And we finally get a good look at Bard the Bowman and a listen to Smaug. You can view Stephen Fry’s witty introduction for the new trailer at Bring The Noise UK.

Tim Winton’s The Turning

The Turning made impressive box office in its first week of Australian release, with the highest per-screen average of any film in current release there. (The film is only showing in 16 cinemas in its “special release” period, so it isn’t competing with films in general release.) You can read details at Inside Film, Flicks.com.au and Impulse Gamer.  Hugo’s older brother Simon wrote an interesting review of the film for Canberra Times. You can read other new reviews at  Sydney Arts Guide, An Adventure In Film, Popcorn Junkie, Graffiti With Punctuation (different review than the one previously excerpted here), Broadsheet Melbourne, On The Record, Catholic Leader, Jim Belshaw and Sam McCosh/Letterbox DVD.

And we finally have a picture of Hugo Weaving, Robert Connolly and David Wenham at the 11 September Turning Premiere, courtesy the Hayden Orpheum’s Event Archive:


Thanks to the David Wenham Fansite for tweeting info about this. 😉

Mystery Road

Beyond Cinema posted a lengthy chat with Ivan Sen and Aaron Pedersen taped at the Toronto International Film Fest. Well worth a look once you get past the asinine first question. 😉

And, in addition to festival screenings in London, Korea, Dubai and Toronto, Mystery Road will be showcased at the Hamptons Film Festival in New York (Long Island) on October 13 and 14. meaning it’s finally come to a location close enough for me to see it. 😉 I also saw Oranges and Sunshine at the Hamptons Film Fest in 2011, which was such an enjoyable experience that I’d been hoping this festival would book Mystery Road; I’m delighted that they read my mind on this. And that I won’t have to wait until next year (and count on the vagaries of international distribution) to see this film. 😉

Mystery Road’s official website has also been augmented with some new downloadable goodies, including this photo:

And there’s a well-written reviews of the film at Electric Sheep.

Before I close I have to thank my boyfriend for his forbearance as I took time to compose this. I try to have rules about not engaging in fandom activities while he’s here, but the new casting news made me break my rule, and he’s been wonderfully patient about this.