Cambodian Children’s Trust Charitable Appeal
I’ll have several brief updates on Hugo’s upcoming projects shortly, but wanted to prioritize his narration of this new video from Cambodian Children’s Trust, which was announced several weeks ago and debuted online yesterday. Hugo has worked on behalf of many charities over the years, including Voiceless.org and various actors’ equity and arts education groups CCT (a “secular, non-profit Cambodian NGO working to enable children in Battambang to become educated, ethical and empowered future leaders of Cambodia”) has a number of complex and admirable goals which you can read about in more detail on their website and Facebook page; the video is a brief introduction to their plans and achievements:
CCT will also host a benefit concert in Sydney on 21 May; more details and ticketing info here.
The Mule At SXSW
Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson participated in several uproarious interviews promoting The Mule at SXSW; I’ll embed the shortest (and most LJ-compatible) here, but if you’re interested in the film the others are worth a look too, if only to let you know what you’re in for (including a behind-the-scenes factoid that’ll forvever change your perception of Snickers bars). 😉
Screen Rant, via YouTube
The film also earned near-unanimous raves through its four festival screenings; here’s a sampling of the latest with links back to full reviews:
Bradley Gastwirth, Austin Daze: “This may be my favorite movie so far at SXSW Film. Well it’s hard to pick one, but it’s up there. It’s reminiscent of the anxiety felt from Midnight Express (1978) with the Soundtrack straight out of the 80′s. It’s a gritty film that that doesn’t disappoint with its direction….
The Mule is full of betrayal, suspense, and a little bit of mayhem, but Hugo Weaving (The Matrix, The LOTR Trilogy) has to be the best contribution to the film. Playing one of the detectives in charge of watching Sampson’s character in a hotel for the 10+ days, he has never been more of a likable sleazebag….
The direction and acting alike is very top notch and again, I have to say that this is a must see at SXSW. If for nothing else, The Mule made me look away for one particularly revolting scene which is always a feat. Get out and see it and you won’t be sorry. Dig the music playing at the credits.”
Peri Nemiroff, Collider: “You better wait to eat until after seeing this one – if you even have an appetite after anymore. Director Tony Mahony‘s The Mule doesn’t fall in line with the Saw films or Insidious, but co-writer/co-star Leigh Whannell does give it a horrific quality of its own. You may never want to experience certain sequences from this one ever again, but they do bolster the effect of the full film…
Personally, I wasn’t queasy leaving The Mule, instead indulging in the splendid cast that our team threw together. Aside from Angus Sampson sporting leading man talents while writhing around in bed with a narcotic time-bomb ticking in his belly, and Leigh Whannell playing a shifty deviant contemplating all actions while his mule sits under police custody, one big name boasts commanding presence – Hugo Weaving. Playing bad cop Det. Croft to Ewen Leslie’s Det. Paris, Weaving delivers a gruff, old-school role that balances obsession and intellect, with a little physical torture to boot. A cat and mouse game between Ray and Agent Croft slyly unravels, as obvious clues hint at Ray’s guilty predicament, but Croft is handcuffed by lawful actions. He can’t just cut open Ray’s stomach and extract the drugs, Ray has to pass them “naturally,” and there’s only a small window in which Croft can “gather” the evidence. Weaving’s charismatic intensity makes Croft an addictive, intriguing character, as we wait patiently to see what tricks he’ll implement next that might break Ray’s fecal dam. Good grief…
I found enjoyment through technical aspects and ballsy international filmmaking that takes risks and blends numerous genres in an incredulous yet unique cocktail. Whannell and Sampson offer a unflattering look into drug smuggling culture, one avoiding sugar-coated action sequences or silly stoner comedy. The Mule is a viciously stripped-down bit of periodic storytelling that highlights a drug mule’s worst nightmare, refusing to gloss over the grimiest, most abhorrent visuals imaginable. Raw, intense, and heroically crafted, I’ve never felt more violated by a movie I fully enjoyed.”
David Massey, Pop Culture Beast: “If the worth of a film is measured in its audience’s response, the woman dry-heaving next to me definitely got her money’s worth… The initial tone of the film signals that this might be a comedy of some sort but any sense of humor is swiftly lost as a cruel group of police officers (lead by Hugo Weaving in one of his most intimidating rolls to date) starts (let’s say) ‘pressing progress’ toward resolving the case as Ray struggles to ‘postpone the discovery’ of his guilt–lots of innuendo here-throughout 10 days of observation. Along the way, Ray’s circumstance results in a domino effect that uncovers crimes far larger than his own. I couldn’t stay for the Q&A but the film is presented as having been based on true events and, as unbelievable as it was, I never questioned it for a moment. Though Google provides a slew of 1983 Australian drug smugglers, I can’t find a single reference to these events and, as much as I liked this film, if they pulled a ‘Fargo’ on me, I adore it. Co-directors Tony Mahoney & Angus Sampson bring new meaning to anal retentive with this very different sort of horror film.”
Hugo Weaving’s next project to film, Strangerland, had its cast shaken up a bit when original lead Guy Pearce dropped out to pursue a role in a Hollywood film. He has been replaced by Joseph Fiennes, who’s probably still best known for his bard-themed films Shakespeare In Love and The Merchant of Venice. Deadline broke the story, and seems to be the original source of the news, but provided no new casting news or details. Inside Film provided a bit more intel, including a possible confirmation that Hugo will indeed be playing a local cop (“named David Rae”) on the case rather than the husband of Nicole Kidman’s character. Moviehole begged to differ (insisting Nicole Kidman and Hugo Weaving play the couple at the center of the film, whose children disappear) but failed to substantiate the claim and sourced only the Deadline article, which included no casting information at all. I suspect they’re just guessing, because Weaving has been connected to the detective role since the first version of this project was announced in 2007, with Anthony LaPaglia and Gia Carrrides cast as the central couple. 😉 Also, I trust Inside Film’s reliability as a source. But we won’t know anything for certain until filming gets underway next month. Since Weaving has played cops or corrections officers in every movie he’s made in the past year, I wouldn’t mind if he switched, but I don’t think that’s happened.
NOTE: As usual, LJ is having inexplicable hissy-fits whenever I try to post direct links to Deadline. Here’s a cut-and-paste version of the link:
deadline [dot] com/2014/03/joseph-fiennes-replacing-guy-pearce-in-strangerland/
Healing’s new trailer has been warmly received online, with viewers all over the world crossing their fingers for good international distribution. Since the trailer made it to YouTube since my last entry, I’ll embed that (slightly higher-res) version here. More news and promotion for the film, which opens 8 May in Australia, is available at Spotlight Report, Pinnacle Films, Lightning Entertainment, Salty Popcorn, SBS Movies… and of course Healing’s website and Facebook page.
In Other Hugo Weaving News:
“No Budget”, the comedic short film featuring cameos from Hugo Weaving and David Wenham, continues touring Australia as part of Flickerfest, which will visit Sydney shortly. More details here.
Mystery Road will have a UK screening as part of Tyneside Cinema’s sponsored Film Marathon on March 29-30. Details and ticketing info here.
And finally, here are the long-delayed additional Berlin Airport pics of Hugo Weaving and David Wenham arriving for last month’s Berlinale. Apologies it’s taken so long for me to prep these.
Photo: News.com/Infgebe 13 (plus next eight)
Photo: Splash News/Corbis (plus next 19)
Yes, I realize a lot of these photos are very similar. 😉
A higher-res version of Filip van Roe’s beautiful Hugo Weaving Berlinale portrait Photo: Filip van Roe’s website
Hugo Weaving at The Turning’s gala screening at Berlinale Photo: Melanie Reinker/Zoonar