Tag Archives: Aaron Pedersen

Hugo Weaving Wins Helpmann Award For STC Endgame; The Dressmaker To Premiere at TIFF, Art of Music Photos

Though Hugo Weaving has been on an extended, well-earned break since STC’s Waiting For Godot wrapped up its London run, his projects– past and future– continue to make the news. Here’s a rundown of all that’s happened since  my last update.

2015 Helpmann Awards


Hugo Weaving with Tom Budge in STC’s production of Endgame earlier ths year. Photo: Lisa Tomasetti

After years of snubs (sometimes of not even being nominated) the Helpmann Awards, given annually for Australian stage productions including theatre, dance, concert and opera, finally did the right thing, awarding Hugo Weaving Best Actor in A Play for his performance as Hamm in STC’s production of Endgame earlier this year. Hugo did not attend the July 27 ceremony, so his Endgame director and friend Andrew Upton claimed the award on his behalf. Hugo frequently avoids awards shows and the Helpmanns rarely recognized his work, so I wasn’t surprised he had other places to be, though it would have been nice to hear Hugo’s thoughts on the honor or have some new pics… as fans we’re more than used to him having other priorities than celebrity-driven red carpet galas. 😉 In addition to Upton, Cate Blanchett and Hugo’s former collaborators Kip Williams (Macbeth) and Pamela Rabe (God of Carnage, Les Liaisons Dangereuses) were on hand. You can view red carpet photos of the event at The Guardian and The Daily Mail; news reports covering the Helpmanns are available at Stage Whispers, The Sydney Morning Herald,The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The AustralianThe AU Review, Sydneyland, ABC.net and Contact Music.     Most of these just list Hugo’s name and honor without citing a reason for his absence.  A few include Lisa Tomasetti’s Endgame performance photos or random press photos from earlier events.


via Helpmann Awards twitter feed

You can read Andrew Upton’s comments explaining why arts funding, particularly of small-to-medium sized theatres, is essential at the Herald Sun. As Upton says, “That’s where the next Hugo Weaving and Samuel Beckett come from”

Speaking of Beckett, don’t forget that BBC2’s Artsnight will air a special Beckett themed episode on July 31 at 11pm (GMT) in which host Richard Wilson will interview Hugo Weaving and Lisa Dwan about their participation in The Barbican’s Beckett Festival this summer. The program will then go up on the BBC’s website for streaming. More details at The Telegraph. Ideally this should include footage from the Barbican production of STC’s Waiting for Godot, but we’ll have to wait and see.

The Dressmaker Slated For TIFF World Premiere Gala

Yet another of Hugo’s projects will hve its global premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The Dressmaker, costarring Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth and Sarah Snook, will be showcased in a gala premiere this September. (The festival begins 10 September, specific screening times TBD.) The film follows Hugo’s earlier projects Little Fish (2005), Cloud Atlas (2012) and Mystery Road (2013) at TIFF; Hugo attended the first two. He’s likely to appear this year too unless a project comes up which prevents him from doing so. (So far he has announced no new film or stage projects and has previously stated he’ll be taking an extended break from theatre to explore possible independent film projects.)

Most entertainment news sites simply list the film’s synopsis and the fact it will be featured in its own gala presentation. You’ll want to keep an eye on TIFF’s page for the film as more details become available in weeks to come.  More at ComingSoon.net, Entertainment Weekly, The Huffington Post and The Guardian, among many others.

More Photos of Hugo Weaving at Art Of Music Live 2015

Art of Music’s Facebook page has shared some additional new photos of Hugo Weaving alongside Simon Baker and Jenny Morris at the July 16 charity fundraiser, which has been Hugo’s only public appearance this summer. All were taken by Trini Cromie Photography.


Hugo walks the red carpet at The Art of Music Live, 16 July 2015. Photo (plus three others) Trini Cromie/Art of Music Facebook


L to R: Jenny Morris, Simo Baker, Hugo Weaving onstage at Art of Music 2015

In Other Hugo Weaving News

Finally, some American Hugo fans will finally have a chance to see Healing on the big screen as the film will be featured in a special Australians In Film screenings in New York (Aug 14) and Los Angeles (Aug 7) next month. More details and info on how to RSVP for tickets at Australians in Film’s website. I’m desperately trying to arrange attending the NYC event after feeling burned I missed out on Strangerland’s pathetically minuscule US cinematic release. (Still hoping for second-run or college screens to help me out on that issue…)

Speaking of Strangerland, I am still trying to fit in a second screening of the film before composing a review. Again, a proper theatrical viewing would be optimal, but US distributors seem intent on disappointing me time after time in that regard. We’ll have to see if The Dressmaker finally breaks that pattern, but I’m sick to death of arthouse screens being wasted on mid-budget American films that are being shunted there so superheroes and CG dinosaurs can hog ALL the screens at mall cineplexes.  I still highly recommend the film, and highly recommend that fans NOT waste any time reading snotty negative reviews or Twitter comments about the film, as most seem to have been written by juveniles with short attention spans.

Ivan Sen and Aaron Pedersen recently completed filming Goldstone, the sequel/offshoot to Mystery Road, in June. (Hugo’s character Johnno won’t be featured because… well, see the first film). But the new film co-stars Jacki Weaver, David Gulpilil and David Wenham, and should provide riveting viewing in its own right. You can see production photos and news reports at the film’s Facebook page.

Strangerland Trailer Debuts, Endgame’s Final Week, RIP Andrew Lesnie

Apologies for not updating sooner; my schedule has been chaotic for a few weeks now. Here are the major Hugo Weaving News Updates from the pasty couple of weeks. (As always, I update in a more timely manner on my Twitter account, but it’s been hard to grab a chunk of time long enough for the context and nuance that composing a Hugonuts update requires… I still consider this format preferable to the more abbreviated, trendy social networking sites, but Twitter at least allows me to post the raw materials of future entries as they appear.)

But enough delaying…

Strangerland: Official Trailer and Festival Screenings

Strangerland finally has an official trailer, via its American distributor Alchemy. (There was an unofficial, subtler teaser online several months ago, but it was quickly pulled from circulation, apparently considered an unofficial leak. For the record, I liked it as much as the new one, and it gave away less of the film’s plot.) The new trailer is longer and more intense, though Hugo has about the same amount of screentime. There are a few too many spoliers for my taste, but that’s generally true of the format. At least in this case the film’s ambiguous nature prevents the sort of over-sharing that plagues trailers for more conventional thrillers. All three lead actors look to be in solid form. Here’s the trailer plus the officxial poster (which is excellent) a few of my screencaps of Hugo’s scenes.


Alchemy via YouTube

The official film poster


(Above four images) My screencaps from the official trailer

Strangerland is released on 10 July in the US and 11 June in Australia, with the rest of its global distribution TBD. The US marketing hints strongly at a VOD-centric launch plus “select” cinematic screenings (likely a limited arthouse release.) The Australian release strategy will probably be similar, though the film is being treated with more class there, in a series of Sydney Film Festival Presents -themed screenings at the Palace Cinemas chain. (More about that in Inside Film). You can read the intel on the US release at Deadline, IndieWire, I’mWithGeek, The Film Stage and IMDb… all have very similar reports including the synopsis and trailer.

Prior to its international wide release, Strangerland will have screenings at the Sydney Film Festival— its Australian premiere 5 June and three additional screenings 6 June. Unfortunately, Hugo’s London stage role in STC’s Waiting For Godot (alongside Richard Roxburgh) will probably prevent Hugo from attending the film’s Sydney premiere… which is probably fine with him, though he has a longstanding love for the SFF apart from red-carpet duties. 😉 The film will also be showcased at the Seattle International Film Festival on May 17 and June 2. Tickets are still available for both festivals (follow the links above) but the SFF premiere is selling fast.

STC Endgame

Sydney Theatre Co’s production of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame completed its final week of performances on Saturday; positive notices kept appearing til the end. In fact, I don’t recall seeing a single negative review for the entire run of the production, which may be a first. Here are review excerpts posted since my prior entry, along with some great fans photos.

Fiona Prior, Henry Thornton: “To experience Andrew Upton and Hugo Weaving’s vision of Endgame as an audience member goes way beyond empathy and imagination into a real-time experiential connection. I frequently felt I was suffering as much from the onstage angst as were the performers who were waiting for the end –  and, like the performers it was only their repetitive dialogue about futility that kept me there for its wickedly funny insights…

Hugo Weaving owns the role of the tyrannical Hamm whose heart is not really into his dictatorial role any more but, confined to his chair, sees little alternative;  Tom Budge as the long-suffering Clov is an adept physical clown and the most down-trodden and sweetest of  victims. Add dust-covered and ashen Nell (Sarah Peirse)  and Nago (Bruce Spence) who live – if that is an appropriate word for their existence –  in old metal barrels on stage and  you have the whole extended family. Nell and Nago exhibit a loving connection in the play through the sharing of a biscuit and of memory. This glimmer of love, however, is treated as routinely as the exchanges of Hamm and Clov and this handling makes it all the more tragic..

I don’t adhere to the existential vision embedded in Endgame but I’m astonished that it can be delivered with such compelling humour. It is also a timely reminder to live creatively and not be a slave to what has come before. ”


Photo: Sharon Johal via Instagram

Frank Barnes, Education/NSWTF: “Along with the full house I sat mesmerised by this production, marvelling at Weaving’s mastery as he uses only his voice and arms, the powerful clowning performance of Tom Budge who has not acted on stage for 10 years, and the rarely-seen Bruce Spence and the extraordinary Sarah Peirse whose appearance is way too brief… Somehow there is always lots of humour to be found in these bleak scenarios of Beckett’s worlds…

The production is engrossing. Let’s hope that Upton, who is leaving for the US with his family, comes back occasionally to team up with Weaving again.”

Tanydd Jacquet, cheekytaster: “From the moment Hugo Weaving is unveiled onstage, you could hear a pin drop at the Roslyn Packer Theatre..

As the endless drops drip from the stage wall like the agonising infinity of seconds passing through in their world, the audience cannot help but to respond to their helplessness with laughter…

The greatest conflict in the play is the one you find yourself in when you leave the theatre. Both quizzical and inspired – you resolve to leave the room you have been so comfortable in, and take a chance on exploring what could be outside…

Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Endgame is a dark comedy that leaves it’s audience talking more than what happens onstage.”


Photo: aabbeymensforth via Instagram

theatrematters.com.au: “Despite the play being a little challenging to follow, the performances were, unsurprisingly, outstanding. Hugo Weaving was captivating as the tyrannical, unforgiving Hamm. At first I was concerned about not being able to see his eyes, hidden behind clouded glasses. How would I connect with him? But he was so beautifully expressive with his languorous hands (echoes of Gambon) and utilised the entirety of his vocal range to such a great effect that I needn’t have worried. Weaving is an enviably clever actor, and his use of language is utterly inspiring. His voice is like chocolate, and the way he effortlessly squeezes meaning out of each syllable, whether it be from modern or classic text, is a gift. Bugde made the perfect companion, making great comedic and physical choices, and letting Clov’s strength shine through just enough to give us hope for him in the end. Both actors were playing within the confines of the script, and found comedy in very difficult and unexpected places…

Nick Schlieper’s set and lighting design was delightfully bleak and foreboding, and provided the perfect basement home for the unlikely family, doomed to be forever alone until something breaks the monotony – death or departure.”


Photo: bncarynlds via Instagram

The Buzz From Sydney: “At the risk of sounding effusive, a production like the Andrew Upton directed Endgame is the reason why people go to the theatre: spellbinding performances and meticulous direction has made Endgame one of the theatre events of the year, which may sound premature, but trust me, is not…

Tom Budge delivered a virtuoso performance as Clov: he executes his duties in exacting , yet forgetful fashion, with intense concentration on space, as he moves Hamm around the stage. Hugo Weaving as Hamm was absolutely brilliant. His monologues create a landscape that is rich in simple drama, while his unseeing eyes held the audience in their grip. Hamm is after all, trying to stave off the end with a few last minute manipulations that are pointless but for him necessary…

Andrew Upton presents Endgame as a more sophisticated companion piece to Waiting For Godot, and fans of Beckett who are after a detailed and faithful rendering will not be disappointed by this production.”


Photo: millsy_k via Instagram

Alex Rieneck, AE36: “Suffice to say the characters are “Hamm” (Hugo Weaving) who spends the play ensconced in a comfortable armchair (which may be seen as a throne) (or not) and who orders everyone  about. He describes himself as senile, so he may be seen as a king. His especial servant is “Clov” (Tom Budge) who runs hither and yon about the stage at every beck and call and being far more mobile than the rest of the cast, is responsible for the physical comedy. Its a big job, Mr Budge is on the move for the entire play scuttling from one side of the stage to the other. His main prop is a twenty foot ladder and I lost track of the number of times that he climbed it, all the way to the top; after carrying it across the stage from one side to the other. No housepainter works so hard; I pitied him and wondered that at the end of the play he seemed to still be word perfect, even as he glistened with sweat. Actors delight me…

Hamm is a less likeable character; he sprawls backwards in his chair bossing Clov, bellowing when he thinks it will achieve his purpose; bribing Nagg with sugar plums when shouting fails. In short Hamm is every inch a king, but not the phantasy monarch of king William and Kate – he is more the nasty reality of King Rupert (Murdoch) himself the unvarnished face of power itself…

The  performances (particularly Hugo Weaving’s as Hamm and Tom Budge as Clov) are flawless, and Bruce Spence beaming up at the world out of a garbage can is not something I will soon forget – nor will I try to.  Sarah Perse does rather better than can be expected with the little that is available to the character of Nell.”


Fan video(!) by Sharon Johal/Instagram

And here are a couple of treats from STC: a behind the scenes look at the production’s teaser trailer, and a neat animated promo for the souvenir programme. (Yes, I have a copy, and yes, there will be scans when I have more time.) 😉


STC via YouTube

Hugo will have a brief respite from Samuel Beckett before traveling with STC’s production of Waiting For Godot to London’s Barbican in June. Stage Whipers has a preview.

RIP Andrew Lesnie, Cinematographer

Many of us were shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden death of Andrew Lesnie, who won an Oscar for his cinematography for Peter Jackson’s Lord of The Rings and lent his considerable skills to several other notable Hugo Weaving films and TV projects, including The Hobbit Trilogy, Babe and its sequel, Bodyline, Melba and Healing. Lesnie also worked on King Kong and The Lovely Bones for Jackson, the recent Planet of the Apes reboot ; his final film was The Water Diviner starring Russell Crowe. Here is director Craig Monahan’s tribute to his collaborator and friend, via Healing’s Facebook page:


Healing director Craig Monahan, with Andrew Lesnie (2013)

“I am devastated at the loss of my friend of 35 years. I first met Andrew at film school : he was finishing and I was starting.

Our initial connection believe it or not was our love of Groucho Marx. I can still see him walking around saying ‘I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. How he got in my pyjamas I’ll never know.’

There was no-one like Andrew. He was very intelligent, very funny and full of energy. As a cinematographer he was brilliant…”Lighting schmiting”, he would say. ‘What’s it about? What is this scene about? Everything came from that.

Much love to Marcie and to his boys Sam,Jack and Alex. R.I.P. my friend” – Craig


Lesnie (center) with his wife Marcie on the set of Healing (2013)  Photos: Healing Facebook


Hugo Weaving and Lesnie during the filming of Healing (2013)

You can read tributes and more about Lesnie’s career at Variety, The Guardian, The New York Times, TheOneRing.net and (of course) Peter Jackson’s Facebook page, which includes an extended tribute and photos from the sets of their many collaborations.

“Dearest Andrew, you never sought nor wanted praise – you never needed to hear how good you were, you only ever cared about doing great work and respecting the work of others. But on behalf of all those who were lucky enough to collaborate with you, love you and in turn, respect your mastery of story, of light and of cinema magic – you are one of the great cinematographers of our time.” — Peter Jackson, via Facebook

andrew-lesnie-obituary-lord-rings-hobbit
With Ian McKellen on The Hobbit set  (Photo: Screen Rant)

In Other Hugo Weaving News

Ivan Sen and his Mystery Road leading man Aaron Pedersen are filming the much-anticipated sequel/follow-up to their 2013 masterpiece. Alas, for obvious resons (to anyone who’s seen Mystery Road) Hugo Weaving and Ryan Kwanten won’t be able to participate this time around. The new film, entitled Goldstone, sees Pedersen’s Jay Swan investigating a new case in another town; though none of the Mystery Road supporting cast is on hand, the new film looks unmissable with the additions of Jacki Weaver, David Gulpilil and David Wenham to the cast. You can follow the film via the Mystery Road Facebook page (now officially named for BOTH films), and read more at Inside Film, Variety, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian and SBS.  Filming is now underway in the Winton, QLD area.

The Mule Debuts On VOD/PPV Services in One Week, First Contact Features Hugo Weaving Narration

The Mule

Several new promo videos, pics and interviews promoting The Mule have appeared since my last entry. These include FilmInk piece featuring a new Hugo Weaving interview (mostly his comments on the Australian film industry, which– no surpriose– he defends vigorously amid the usual, cynical media reports of its demise.) I’ll post the full text of Hugo’s comments below, but first, the latest batch of promo videos for The Mule. (I have to say this film’s online marketing team is doing a splendid job, keeping the new promos coming (yet not-too-spoilery) and actually keeping in touch with interested fans, something I’ve yet to see from, say, Warner Bros despite by decade-plus of promoting various films of theirs. 😉 A lot of indie distributors could learn from this model too. Too many of Hugo’s smaller Australian indies haven’t gotten the audiences they deserved, and scattershot marketing has sometimes been part of the problem. (I should add here that Mystery Road is another film that got this aspect right,  though they released to cinemas and didn’t have the “cult appeal” that The Mule already has in its favor.)

Anyhow, the videos: the first, which was debuted by Inside Film, is another behind-the-scenes preview featuring comments from Hugo Weaving and an overview of the film itself (oh, and Leigh Whannell getting grabbed by the nads):


eOneANZ via YouTube

Here’s the second trailer for the film, which is really a re-edited, PG-rated shorter version of the first, from the film’s US distributor XLRator:


Festivals and Indie Films via YouTube

Angus Sampson has handled the bulk of international promo interviews for TheMule thusfar, including several radio and podcast interviews he spoke with Charles  for over an hour on Center Stage With Mark Gordon on KXLU. Here’s the Soundcloud embed:

He also sat down for interviews with Crave Online and Schmoes Know Movies for extended chats which touched on both The Mule and his more Hollywood-friendly projects (the Insidious films, the forthcoming Mad Max sequel.)


Crave Online via YouTube.


SK Podcast via YouTube; Sampson interview begins at 30.20

Sampson also explained the genesis of Hugo’s infamous “ballooon scene” (in the film and trailer) in a Reddit exchange earlier today:

“[In researching real-life incidents while writing the script] we interviewed customs officials. We interviewed lawyers and police officers. All on the condition of anonymity. We would ask the police we interviewed questions like: If you had to pressure someone you have in custody without physically bruising them or hitting them with a telephone book, The reply ‘I would let the air out of a balloon slowly and repeatedly’ was 100 per cent fact. And you’ll see in the trailer it made the final cut!”

Here are the latest character posters (and a behind the scenes shot) featuring Hugo Weaving’s Tom Croft:


Croft character poster #2. Photo: Moviehole


L to R: Angus Sampson, Hugo Weaving, Ewen Leslie and two others on the set. Photo: The Mule Movie Twitter feed


Promo still of Hugo as Tom Croft being tom Croft 😉  Photo: The Mule Movie Twitter feed


Passport-style poster  Photo: The Mule Movie official website

Most of the above video/radio interviews don’t feature an overabundance of Hugo content, though the Schmoes Know podcast reveals Hugo took a while to get back to the production team about signing on, probably because his infrequent contact with “the business side” of the industry, ie his agents, delayed him receiving the script. (Hugo’s enthusiasm in all interviews about the film, including those before shooting began, suggest he was always interested in the project; costar John Noble was leery of the subject matter until Sampson and Whannell persuaded him in person to give them a shot.) Hugo’s 2005 AFI acceptance sppech comes to mind here. 😉 Hugo Weaving will appear with Sampson and Whannell (and probably some other special guests) at the Melbourne (Nov 18) and Sydney (Nov 19) preview screenings next week, so we’ll probably see his role in promoting the film expand very soon.  The Melbourne preview is sold out, but free tickets are up for grabs for both venues if one tweets #TheMuleMovie then a description of one’s own most embarrassing predicament. (That contest closes soon– 16 Sept at 9pm AEDT–  so act quickly)


(Melbourne promo identical but venue)

Sorry to kep you in suspense about that Hugo Weaving interview; it’s part of a larger FilmInk piece highlighting the current pessimism in the media about the local film industry, and how The Mule is trying to reverse the trend of dismal box-office for homegrown Australian films by bypassing cinemas screenings and releasing direct to PPV/VOD/DVD-Blu-Ray. Here’s what Hugo had to say:

“There are much, much better films being made now than back in the heyday of Australian filmmaking,” Hugo Weaving – the star of recent Aussie crackers like Mystery Road, The Turning, Healing, and this month’s The Mule – tells FilmInk. “There really are, but the perceived wisdom is that that’s not the case. Well, I beg to differ. There are good films being made in this country, and the apparent fact that people are turning away from Australian film is something that I don’t necessarily buy. They’re turning away from films all over the world, apart from the biggest blockbusters. There are lots of arguments. But in terms of the quality of the films being made, there are finer films being made than there were back in the seventies. There were great films made back then, but the landscape is shifting enormously and rapidly, and everything – the way in which we view films, the marketing of films, the distribution – has changed…

“There are so many good films,” Weaving continues, “but it’s almost like they’re disappearing into this great big swamp, and no one can see what to do with them once they’re there. It’s very hard, and it doesn’t mean that those films are bad because they’re not seen. I see those films, and some of them are fantastic. Success at the box office isn’t the marker of a quality film. It’s a shame that they can’t coincide, and it’s a shame that we can’t find better ways of doing it. I still feel very engaged when I read a great script and have the opportunity to work with terrific directors. It’s the script and the people that you work with that keep you going. There are great people on the landscape, so I’m hopeful about where that all goes.”

Hugo’s position on this subject has remained remarkably consistent over the years… and the Australian media’s premature death knell for their film industry has been sounding at least since vthe late 90s, so he’s had plenty of opportunities to state his opinion. 😉 It’s sort of ridiculousd to hold up one unusual year (most often 1994) as a standard every other year needs to meet; it is deeply frustrating that so few Australian films are properly distributed overseas, which certainly wasn’t the case in the 90s, when Proof, Priscilla and other notable Australian films (Muriel’s Wedding, The Castle, Chopper) got decent arthouse releases abroad. These days, as Hugo notes, most indie films don’t get cinema screenings at all, anywhere in the world apart from a few cosmopolitain hubs (New York, London, LA, Paris, etc) unless they attract substantial awards buzz or feature major Hollywood stars. At least in the US films can be released to cinemas and PPV/VOD simultaneously, so patrons outside the arthouse market can at least see them. This apparently isn’t the case in Australia, where there’s a mandatory months-long wait between any substantial cinema release and the option of home-screening of any kind. If The Mule is successful, this may change, but not all films will have The Mule’s unique combination of wit, “midnight movie”/cult appeal and adroit mix of serious tension with potentially-dicey subject matter.

Anyhow, reviews for The Mule continue to be very positive. You can sample the latest at Dark Matter, Adrian Edwards, AltMedia.net and Movie Nation.  Additional promotion and info about the film and its unque release strategy at InDaily, The Daily Review and The Otto Empire. The film can boast of having the 3rd-most-viewed trailer at Apple and (currently) a 100% Fresh Rotten Tomatoes rating. And an extra who worked on the film tells her story at The Daily Telegraph.

The Mule will have a free preview screening in New York on 24 November courtesy the folks at Fangoria; you can read up on how to apply for tickets here. Supposedly they’ll RSVP confirmation before the screening date. (I’m still waiting to hear from them… this would be my best chance for seeing the film in a proper cinema, so I hope it works out.) An LA preview screening featuring Sampson and Whannell was already held last night at Cinefamily, but  there will be additional LA-area screenings through the end of the month at Arena Cinema.

Finally, whether you’e lucky enough to make it to one of the Australian or US preview screenings or whether you stream/download/order it on On Demand, you’ll want to tune in for the 7 Dec Live Tweeting event which will feature Sampson and Whannell, Georgina Haig and more. Unknown if Hugo Weaving will participate, as he doesn’t have a Twitter account, but I’ve seen actors participate by proxy on more than one occasion. John Noble DOES tweet, but it’s unknow if he’ll be available given his demanding schedule, which includes a recurring role on US TV’s Sleepy Hollow.

Streaming options for the film will include iTunes, which is featured heavily in most promotion, but the latest version of iTunes is incompatible with many non-Apple computers (including mine), so I feel obliged to post other streaming options, which will include: “AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Cox, DirecTV, Dish, Time Warner and Verizon as well as various digital platforms” yet TBA, I’ll keep you posted.

Finally, the DVD of the film will be available 3 Dec in Australia and 20 Jan in the US. Amazon is taking pre-orders for the latter.

First Contact

A surprise addition to Hugo Weaving’s audio resue popped up about a week ago, as promotion for the SBS documentary series First Contact debuted online. Hugo narrates this three-episode series about a group of six white Australians who hold very jaundiced views of the indigenous population who spent a month immersed in a culture they’d never been exposed to before, and how this changes their perspective. Hugo is heard briefly in the extended trailer below. The series begins airing on 18 November in Australia with the remaining episodes following immediately on the 19th and 20th. You can read more about it at SBS, The Sydney Morning Herald, TV Tonight, and Yahoo News.

There will be a DVD available later this year, in case international viewers are curious; Australian viewers will be able to stream current episodes at SBS once the episodes have aired.

The Dressmaker

Things have been fairly quiet from The Dressmaker’s “Dungatar set” in Victoria, apart from a few intriguing behin the scenes images shared via the film’s Facebook page. Presumably Hugo is currently at work on this particular project, though he’ll obviously be taking a few days off to promote The Mule.


“Our camera operator David ‘Daisy’ Williamson films Tilly’s train arriving in Dungatar (in Muckleford, VIC)”  Photo: The Dressmaker Facebook page


“Production Designer, Roger Ford, shows our director around the interior of the Pettyman’s house.” The Dressmaker Facebook page

Mystery Road

The film continues to receive positive notices in its US and UK home-format releases. The latest reviews may be read at Blu-Ray.com, Rock!Shock!Pop!, VODZilla, EveryFilmBlog.

The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies

First, apologies for inadvertently leaving the second “the” out of the film’s new(ish) subtitle in previous entries. Since fans have universally used the shorthand BOFA, I hadn’t actually noticed it was there until recently. (Frankly, I still think There And Back Again was better. So freakin’ sue me.) 😉 Still no info on whether Hugo Weaving will be on hand in London when the film premieres.

But several new goodies have nonetheless recently debuted, including a growing cache of TV ads. I’ll embed the most impressive (a collection of several international spots back-to-back) followed by the first official two US TV ads.


CBM Trailers via YouTube (Elrond’s sword-brandishing cameo from this month’s full-length trailer appears i the first 30 seconds).


TV Spot 1 (Warner Bros via YouTube)


TV Spot 2 (Warner Bros via YouTube)

Tickets are now on sale for marathon screenings of all three Hobbit films (shown in order) December 15 at various IMAX locations. The official site only seems to have times for The Battle of the Five Armies, so check local listings.

And you can hear Billy Boyd’s ending theme “The Last Goodbye in its entirety over at Billboard.com. And there are amusing reactions to the recently released trailer at GQ and Entertainment Tonight Online, including the rather obvious statement: “Hugo Weaving is amazing.”

Healing

In advance of the film’s Australian television debut (November 23) ABC TV shared Hugo Weaving’s behind the scenes interview clip. Some of you may remember seeing this back when the film had its theatrical release in May, but it’s definitely worth multiple viewings.


ABC, via YouTube

Also, Healing has two cinema screenings left in its Fort Lauderdale International Film Fest schedule in Florida this week.

New Mule Featurette & Promo Interviews, The Dressmaker Begins Filming in Victoria

I know updates have been too-infrequent of late… I’ve had to take on extra work hours due to recent medical expenses involving my cat (you can read about her progress here, but I’ll otherwise keep personal news separate from Hugonuts).Also, backing up all my older entries and photos (at Hugonuts Photo Archive) has taken more time than expected, though it desperately needs doing. Then there’s my ongoing posting of Hugo Weaving pics to Twitter, most of which require extensive “cleaning” of some sort. 😉 Photo sites might be less obstinate on this issue if fans made a habit of properly crediting source sites and photographers when reposting, something I always take pains to do .. I was as lax in this department as any “newbie” fan for the first few years, and in consequence my earliest archived photos are in a shambles and I’m spending hours tracking down credit info I should have been including all along.

Anyhow, though Hugo hasn’t made many public appearances of late, he has been busy working on The Dressmaker (in and around Melbourne– the Victoria set is in a “secret location” to deter fan disruption, though most Hugo fans I know would never be so gauche as to crash one of his film sets.) 😉 He has been spotted at Sydney-area events (and photographed at least once) so his presence hasn’t been constantly required on the set– after those strenuous months of performing Macbeth every night, he is owed a more relaxed schedule. He’s also scheduled to attend at least two promotional screenings and Q&A events for The Mule, which is released 21 November in both the US and Australia, mostly via streaming platforms, though a DVD should follow soon.

The Mule

The film’s social media outlets on Twitter and Facebook have kept up a steady output of new info and links to new stills and articles as the release date draws nearer. The most fun of these is the newly-released 1983 promotional clip (featuring some amusing comments from Hugo on the set) which was “unlocked” for fans via Twitter a couple of nights ago:


Via eOne ANZ YouTube

One can also have a great deal of perverse fun with the “Sweary Supercut” promo, neatly demonstrating why the film secured an R/MA rating (well, ONE reason…)


IGN, via YouTube

I’ll post the film’s trailer again, because it’s well worth repeat viewings, and because eOne ANZ has a peculiar, annoying habit of removing content then reposting it in different locations, ie breaking embed links.  They already took down the 1983 clip from its original YouTube location after I went through the trouble of cross-posting it (and links to it) in several locations, which I THOUGHT was the point. If fans are just trying to help promote the film via social media and blogs, it helps to have promotional content consistently in place. Just sayin’.


Movieclips Trailers via YouTube

Twitch Film debuted a nice batch of new stills and caps from the film, including a large portrait of Hugo Weaving’s Tom Croft, and the new (and, in my view, improved) US poster for the film, which I’ll add below. I’ll warn you the site also includes a closeup of Angus Sampson’s character having to… erm… reingest some escaped cargo, which I’ll spare you here. 😉


(Larger version here— click on the magnifying lens.)


Hugo Weaving confronts Georgina Haig


Screencap of Hugo Weaving and Georgina Haig


The new poster

And here are some of my screencaps from the two most recent video promos; apologies for some being lo-res; the 1983 promo clip is so far only available in grainy standard def. I hope the film’s marketers will share an HD version as the film nears release.


(more caps from the 1983 promo here)


More film stills, posters and screencaps from The Mule here.)

Angus Sampson and the film’s creative team have already done a batch of recent press interviews to promote the film’s general release, as well as attending festival screenings at the Philadelphia Film Festival on Oct 21 and 25. (I would definitely have gone if not in such dire straits financially, though people lucky enough to attend have been very generous with info about the Mule’s screenings and the rest of the PFF, which featured a lot of my favorite directors and actors.) At any rate most interviews are very encouraging, suggesting the film is much smarter than the average bodily function comedy or shocker. Perhaps the best (apart from the 1983 clip) can be read at Vice UK, featuring Sampson’s comments about the film’s less bathroom-oriented cultural and class themes. The fact that Hugo seems more enthusiastic-bordering-on-gleeful than I’ve seen him in behind the scenes interviews on any project should also give fans confidence that there’s more going on here than Adam Sandler-level poo jokes highlighting the distinct difference between being genuinely subversive and merely a crass gross-out.  Sampson was also interviewed–over lunch!– about the film by The Sydney Morning Herald.

Angus Sampson gave a video interview at another recent screening, this time for the Australian Film Institue’s AACTA Awards screenings in Sydney. You can also stream their interview with Noni Hazelhurst.


Australian Film Institute, via YouTube


Another brilliant quote/illustration via the film’s Twitter feed… keep ’em coming!

The Guardian included The Mule and its cinema-skirting, direct-to-consumer release strategy amid an otherwise-grim assessment of the Australian film industry. (An unfortunate, bordering on cliched treatise echoing perhaps EVERY assssment of said film industry SINCE the much vaunted Priscilla-and-Muriel heyday of 1994. Never mind that Australian films remain excellent and frequently deserve cinema screens more often than the juvenile US trash replacing them.

The Dendy Cinemas Newtown/Sydney screening and Q&A is scheduled for 19 November at 6.30. Tickets are available here.  The Melbourne Cinema Nova screening and Q&A is scheduled for 18 November at 6.30, and you can buy tickets here. Hugo Weaving and Angus Sampson will be present at both events along with other guests to be announced.

So far only iTunes is taking pre-orders for The Mule, which one may purchase in both HD and standard versions. Both the US and Australian versions of iTunes are accepting orders, but they won’t let you order outside of your own country (why, exactly, if we’re paying?) So be sure you have the correct link. I’ll update with additional streaming/purchase options as soon as they’re announced. Most of Hugo’s recent Australian films have played cable On Demand in the US, so I’d guess The Mule will to, with both rental and purchase options. Australian fans should try to mak,e one of the cinema screenings, though, especially since Hugo will be there with Whannell and Sampson, and other to-be-named cast members.

You can read recent reviews for The Mule at The Digital Fix and filmgarmott.

The Dressmaker

The filmmakers released their first newsletter from the set (written by producer Sue Maslin) on 16 October as production kicked off. (you can sign up via the official website or just follow them on Twitter for online links). You can read the full entry here, but here are some highlights: “The past few weeks have been filled with cast rehearsals, costume fittings, makeup trials, and camera tests. Twenty-five gowns and outfits have been designed by Marion Boyce for Tilly alone and have all been hand-sewn by her exceptional team….

We spent years in search of the mythical town familiar to those of you who have read Rosalie Ham’s book – a town in the shadow of a hill – Molly’s Hill – on the edge of a vast wheat plain. Having travelled to towns all over Australia, I can assure you that there is NO town like Dungatar!… For that reason, we will build the main street of Dungatar at Mt. Rothwell on the edge of the You Yangs about an hour out of Melbourne. It looks west over the plains and is the perfect place to build the main street of Dungatar in the shadow of Molly’s house on the hill…

Rehearsals with our cast began last week and it is wonderful having Kate (Tilly), Judy (Molly) and Hugo (Sgt. Farrat) now bringing their characters alive together with a stellar ensemble of supporting cast…Jocelyn and I really appreciate all of you who have already joined us on this journey. Our production team are looking forward to sharing it with you. ”

Several images on/from the set have appeared on the film’s Facebook page, though none feature cast members. You can read variations on the press release announcing the start of filming (and recasting of two roles– Isla Fisher and Elizabeth Debicki were replaced by Sacha Horler and Sarah Snook, respectively) at Screen Daily, Inside Film, FilmInk, OzEmag, Urban Cinefile, The Australian, The Herald Sun and SBS. David Hirschfelder was announced as the film’s composer.


Director Jocelyn Moorhouse and Cinematographer Don McAlpine on The Dressmaker’s set. Via the film’s Facebook page

Since then things have been fairly quiet (as I assume they’re busy filming), with only a few unauthorized paparazzi shots of Kate Winslet and Judy Davis emerging.   The official website and Facebook banner have updated to include Hugo, though, so I’m not complaining. I sort of prefer NOT knowing too much about a film this early, and have somehow held off on ordering Rosalie Ham’s novel… mostly because international shipping prices are exorbitant and it seems to be out of print in the US. I know I won’t be able to resist the book forever, but maybe… just maybe… this’ll be the Hugo film with a literary tie-in I  haven’t read before seeing the film.

Hugo Weaving has been photographed by fans twice since filming began (note he’s shaved for the role– not unexpected given its twists and turns). Once was in Melbourne, more recently in Sydney at a concert:


“I’m pretty stoked with my celebrity sighting tonight! #hugoweaving #matrix” The Commitment Company via Instagram


“In the Green Room waiting for Elbow. Hugo Weaving is here. Just an average Sat night #operahouse #elbow” Melissa Gardner via Twitter/Instagram

In Other Hugo Weaving News

Tim Winton’s The Turning will have a month of screenings at the Danske Filminstituten through November. It was politely received at the BFI London Film Fest earlier this month, though it didn’t get the attention The Mule did.

Mystery Road has been generally well-reviewed in its US/UK DVD/Blu-Ray/Streamin/On Demand release. You can read recent reviews at High Def Standard, Buddies In The Saddle, Cine-Vue, Rob Smith/Letterbox DVD, BoxOfficeBuz,  The film continues to receive arthouse screenings throughout the UK, which I’ll repost to my Twitter account (sidebar if you’re reading WP) as they’re announced. Unfortunately, the film’s US distributor has been a real let-down on offering any cinema distribution even to arthouses and second run/indie/college venues. This is a film that really deserves a big-screen presentation, and not all of us can afford 80″ surround-sound HD set-ups. Also… I’m old fashioned in that I actually enjoy chatting about and sitting there in the dark with other film fans. 😉 Also: Film3Sixty’s interview with director Ivan Sen has been re-posted and remains worth a read if you missed it earlier.

The Guardian interviewed the much-in-demand Luke Mullins in advance of his reprisal of Lucky in Sydney Theatre Co’s acclaimed production of Waiting For Godot, which will be restaged at London’s Barbican next year. (Another of Hugo and Richard’s costars in Godot, Philip Quast, recently appeared in a Lincoln Center revival of Stephen Sodheim’s Sweeney Todd, which was nationally broadcast in the US on PBS. He portrayed the lecherous Judge Turpin).

I’ll also embed Axiom Film’s wonderful little promo short released in conjunction with the UK release (and subsequent DVD issue) which I know I’ve shared before, but c’mon. Can you say no to this smile?


(more interview screencaps here)


via Axiom Films/Vimeo

The Hollywood Reporter recently re-posted their original 1999 review of The Matrix, featuring the following comments about a then-unsung Australian character:  “[T]he big scene stealer is [Hugo] Weaving as the relentless opponent and embodiment of the Matrix’s creators. His deadpan delivery and ultra-serious demeanor is chipped away with growing frustration, and the Australian contributes much of the film’s nervous humor.”

We finally have a few stills/illustrations of Hugo Weaving’s Elrond in The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, though they aren’t official promotional images. (In at least one case, Warmer Bros threatened TheOneRing.net (!) over scanned images from a forthcoming book on the film.) They are very similar; the first is taken from a 2015 calendar, the second is a film still first seen in Brian Sibley’s book The Battle of the Five Armies Visual Companion and Official Movie Guide, but which has been disseminated all over the internet in various versions, which makes me feel a little less nervous about posting it. Frankly, the way Warner’s has repeatedly snubbed Hugo fans (even freakin’ Azog The Defiler got a promo poster) they owe us one.


From the 2015 Hobbit calendar, apparently cropped from this larger illustration:


via Danilo, selling the UK version of the calendar.


via TheOneRing.Net Twitter, As seen in Brian Sibley’s forthcoming book The Battle of the Five Armies Visual Companion and Official Movie Guide

In non-Hugo (but welcome) news, it’s been announced that LOTR favorite Bily Boyd (whose character Pippin isn’t born yet in The Hobbit) will compose and sing the end-credits song for the film. More about that in Paste. Flicks and Bits shared some conceptual images and one of Peter Jackson’s sketches of the titular battle, taken from the current issue of Entertainment Weekly.  No word yet on an official trailer or any additional Production Diary videos with only a couple of months to go before the film’s release.

Healing will have its first US screenings in awhile at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Fest on November 14, 15 and 19, tickets are available at the festival’s website. Another festival I’ll have to miss, alas.

And that rarest of rare items, “a watch worn by Hugo Weaving” was said to be among them items up for sale at the Garage Sale Trail, an Oct 25 auction of Sydney theatre props and costumes organized by Finoa Reilly, NIDA’s head costume designer. Details in The Australian. Given Hugo’s repeated professed loathing of wearing watches, that would be a colector’s item indeed, even if it’s a play prop. 😉

More on the 2015 STC Season, The Mule Gets Festival Screenings, The Key Man Finally Gets US Release

New articles and images continue to appear in the wake of Sydney Theatre Company’s announcement of what might be its most ambitious season yet for 2 Possibly the most appealing is a new set of photos by James Croucher for The Australian, one of which was posted/published with an article about the announcement. STC artistic director Andrew Upton posed with Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Susie Porter ans Jacqueline Mckenzie for a series of delightful images. You can see the full set at Newspix (and I’ll share cleaned version to the Hugonuts PhotoBucket Archive and on Twitter as I find time). The print version of the Australian piece follows the first couple.


L to R: Cate Blanchette, Hugo Weaving, Andrew Upton, Susie Porter and Jacqueline Mckenzie  Photo: James Croucher/The Australian/Newspix.


Photo: James Croucher/The Australian/Newspix

(WordPress viewers: To see enlarged images/scans, right-click, then click on “view in a new tab” )

The most attention-getting play in a chock-full forthcoming season has so far been Geoffrey Rush’s return to STC after a 2-decade absence to play King Lear. (He’s been more active at Belvoir– and gone to NYC twice with their productions.) His nude cover story in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Spectrum hasn’t hurt either. (Online version of the interview here.) 😉  Cate Blanchett’s reteaming with Richard Roxburgh for another go-round of Chekhov in The Present has also naturally drawn its share of enthusiasm and curiosity, though a few pretensions whingers have opined that the play is “inferior Chekhov”.  Honestly, after the spectacular results this creative team got with Uncle Vanya– possibly the finest night of theatre I’ve experienced, which is saying one helluva lot– I’d be up for watching them interpret Chekhov’s accounting notebooks. 😉

There have also been complaints to the effect that STC is repeating itself with successive productions of Beckett, Chekhov and Shakespeare– which seems small-minded to me. Endgame is rarely mounted– at least in the US, over the past 20 years– and Andrew Upton is radically reworking the Chekhov play to create The Present, so in a way it should be a wholly new experience. While I’d understand the complaints if they repeated tired productions of the SAME play year after year– the way the Met has with operas in fallow years– I love the notion of a single actor exploring the great playwrights bodies of work, both connecting one play to another and finding the contrasts.  This is usually accepted with Shakespeare’s work (some actors and theatre groups have focused exclusively on the Bard, to great effect) so why not explore the concept elsewhere. Why should plays be mounted JUST because they’re obscure, Australian or popular with a specific audience demographic (to note three of the most common complaints)?  The STC isn’t perfect, and can be guilty of elitism in that they seem to be offended when people ask them to film plays (or have more captioned performances), but they mount a broad spectrum of works every year, including many I’m not personally familiar with, many that are Australian, and that are work by up and coming playwrights. I can’t name a local American company that’s producing a season that combines artistic vigor with populism to the success STC has in its current line-up: most companies are too fixated on pleasing either a tiny, pointy-headed critical elite (especially in New York) or what they perceive to be “The Masses” (typically demonstrated by programming multiple door-slamming farces and jukebox musicals). The most infuriating criticism has been over the casting of “famous actors”, as if appearing in Hollywood productions or winning Oscars has somehow sullied the purity of Blanchett, Weaving and Rush. All three started out as theatre actors and all three have continually returned to the theatre throughout their careers because they believe doing so improves their acting in a general sense. This isn’t a case of casting has-been soap actors in the latest revival of Grease to boost ticket sales– this is the forum where these actors became great in the first place, and often still achieve their most breathtaking results.

I bring this up to greater explain some comments on Twitter, which were misinterpreted. I was in a rush yesterday morning and made a poorly-worded joke which could have been implied to support the very kind of elitism I’m railing against here, and I regret that. I’d read a bunch of annoying elitist pieces by Australia’s equivalent of New Yorker critics (ie effete snobs) on the one hand, and a FilmInk piece suggesting Australian movies AND plays should be more local and box- office driven. I’m heartily grateful STC is ignoring BOTH kinds of thinking. I do think theatre should be challenging, intelligent and adventurous, but I don’t think it should be exclusive. Filming and simulcasting would be one way of making productions less exclusive, and could raise revenue and give STC (and theatre in general) a more populist image. Yes, the ephemerality of sitting in a crowded theatre on a given night and experiencing a distinct performance is thrilling, and I will continue to patronize any production STC elects to tour if it’s financially possible. But I can’t fly to Australia for each of Hugo or Cate’s plays– I wish I could, but most people simply can’t afford to. Even in Australia, many can’t afford tickets or get tickets to sold-out plays. I know I sound like a broken record on this subject, but I won’t quit until something is done. It gets on my nerve to see Hugo Weaving lead exactly the sort of career I’ve wanted him to lead but have to deal with the existential despair of knowing that I may never see some of his greatest work. I have always said I’d rather he star in productions I CAN’T see than in productions I WON’T see… and that’s still true. But the thought of missing his Macbeth, Valmont or Hamm does bring on a certain existential despair.

Anyhow, back to the News Content… and again, I’m sorry if my poorly-thought-out tweets upset anyone.

You can read more about the 2015 STC season (and differing opinions about what their most “highly-anticipated” production will be) at Manuscript Daily, Limelight, The Age, ABC Arts,  and Time Out Sydney. Sydney Theatre Company also posted a retrospective of Geoffrey Rush’s work for them; the piece doesn’t mention his teaming with Hugo Weaving in The Alchemist (which was for Belvoir–then known as Nimrod) but demonstrates how they’ve both played several of the same classic roles over the years… and it mentions Rush’s tenure as Hugo Weaving’s clowning instructor at NIDA, which Hugo humorously discussed in this 2009 radio interview. (“It was terrifying… I vaguely remember bursting into the room [for my improv exercise] and no one laughed. I remember crawling around on my hands and knees being a tortoise or something, and I remember seeing Geoffrey shaking his head and throwing a phone book at me…”) And STC posted a selection of 2015 Announcement Event pics to their Facebook page. While Hugo did pose for the publicity images I mentioned at the beginning of the post, he wasn’t at the live event, either because he was busy with Macbeth, or because he wanted to share attention with the other actors on hand– Rush and Blanchett were there, and are included in the photo set.   But you can see him in the photo below:


Andrew Upton discusses the 2015 production of Endgame, starring Hugo Weaving  Photo: STC Facebook

The Mule Festival Screenings

Hugo’s next film to be released– the crime comedy The Mule– is currently being showcased (and receiving a generally positive response, though no full-length reviews yet) at Fantasy Film Fest in Berlin and other German cities. Its next major showcase will be the BFI London Film Festival on October 9, 12 and 18. To buy tickets (and view a new gallery of stills, including the ones below) go here.

The film is scheduled for general release (no pun intended) in Australia on 30 October and in the US sometime this fall, with other countries’ opening dates TBD. It has already had successful engagements at SXSW and The New Zealand International Film Festival.

The Key Man To Finally Be Released On DVD

Jokingly referred to as Hugo Weaving’s “lost film” by Hugo’s longterm fans (who read about its 2006 filming in North Carolina, handful of SXSW screenings in 2011 and subsequent disappearance without a trace (except for a brief release–mostly via streaming– to a handful of obscure markets, mostly in Eastern Europe and North Africa), The Key Man has finally secured DVD rights in the US. Deadline and Screen Daily shared the news that Screen Media recently acquired the US distribution rights to the black comedy (costarring Jack Davenport, Judy Greer and Brian Cox) and  “…will distribute the film on iTunes and across all VOD platforms and DVD in the first quarter of 2015.” So while I don’t begrudge those lucky audiences who’ve been able to see the film up to this point, I am mightily relieved it’s finally going to be legally available to a wide audience, and on a permanent home-viewing format. For the record, I was often tempted to view bootleg copies advertised online, but in the end never gave in, fearing viruses and wanting to see the film as it was meant to be seen, at proper resolution. (I also think independent films face enough challenges without the threat of piracy cutting into their often-already-limited revenues.)  So it’s nice to see good behavior rewarded. 😉 I’m not expecting brilliance from this film, but hope it features some wry comic turns and appealing nastiness from character actors who cvan have fun with it. Plus, honestly, how can any film with THIS scene be entirely bad? 😉


Hugo Weaving and Brian Cox in The Key Man  Screencap: Zakharvlad1 via Flickr

Mystery Road UK Release

Hugo’s 2013 film (and festival favorite) is slated to appear on US and British DVD in weeks to come (via Well Go USA and Axiom Film, respectively) but Axiom have given the film a decent arthouse release in Britain first, and critical response has been very positive. I’ll share a selection of brief quotes below:

Mark Kermode, The Guardian: “[A] stylish Aussie thriller that rises above pulpy cliche… Hugo Weaving is quietly threatening as Johnno, a line-crossing cop whose “good boy, Jay-boy” mantra drips with significantly canine-inflected racism, but whose true motivations remain unclear… In the end, though, this is Pedersen’s movie, and he excels as the archetypally conflicted antihero, a latterday embodiment of the historical turncoat whose troubled brow seems creased by the weight of both personal and national history.”

You can also watch Kermode discuss the film in this video review:

Kermode and Mayo via YouTube

Geoffrey MacNab, The Independent:  “Ivan Sen’s slow-burning but very powerful Aussie western is one of those films in which the main character walks as if he has a ball and chain attached to his feet… [W]here Mystery Road registers most strongly is in its brooding and oppressive mood… Shooting in widescreen, Sen makes excellent use of his remote locations and slowly cranks up the tension before throwing in a strangely ritualised final reel shootout.”

George Byrne, The Irish Independent: “[A] complex thriller that offers several interesting takes on contemporary Australia… the closing shot is worth the price of admission alone… Aaron Pendersen is thoroughly believable as the conflicted Jay and the blasted landscape is photographed so well you’ll be sweating and swatting the flies away from your own face after 10 mins.”

Anton Bitel, Little White Lies: “This sand-blasted Aussie murder mystery tinkers with genre convention while managing to remain sincere and thrilling… This does not just show off to good effect the wide open spaces of Australia’s dusty outback, but also gives visual form to the immense, perhaps unbridgeable divide that exists between the rock and the hard place of Australia’s ongoing culture wars… Yet while it may look like a genre film, and feel like a genre film, Mystery Road is also entirely of a piece with Sen’s earlier Beneath Clouds and Toomelah in its thematic preoccupation with indigenous issues, colonial injustice and uprooted identity.”

Alexa Dalby, Dog and Wolf: ” Huge skies, low horizons, glowing orange sunsets and a depiction of a culture and environment we rarely see in genre mystery movies make Mystery Road an unusual and thought-provoking film.”

Film Reviews and News: “Aaron Pendersen gives a superb lead performance as Jay Swan and the movie’s graced with some impressive characters that make it complete – Jack Charles, the community elder with a knowing wink and a nod, veteran Jack Thompson as Mr Charlie Murray holding a clue to Mystery Road, Sergeant Tony Barry, Jay’s commanding officer and Hugo Weaving who plays Johnno, a fellow cop who maybe on the wrong side in this web of lies and deceit… A powerful, intelligent and masterful modern-day take on the Western genre, with strong social and political commentary. A great watch.”

lgileskeddie: filmgaze.com: “The film’s slow-burn pace brilliantly mirrors then reflects the building frustrations of its protagonist in trying to get leads, a tedious process but one that does not deter Swan. Hence, there are some exciting dynamics at play because of Swan’s exclusion from his own community – who don’t fully trust him, especially after his absence – and the White folk who dominate the local landscape and surrounding farms. The film speaks volumes about the plight of Aborigine deprivation and the widening gap between the haves and have-nots…  5 Stars”

Tara Bradley, Irish Times: “Writer-director Ivan Sen’s compelling, award-winning police procedural is characterised by dark secrets and the relentless glare of the sun. At first glance, it’s Walkabout reworked as noir. On closer inspection Aaron Petersen’s subtle commanding performance signals that we are, in fact, watching a displaced western, replete with a wild frontier, dangerous hicks, an air of lawlessness and a charismatic hero in a hat… Hugo Weaving’s turn as a problematic copper is equally accomplished: the actor twitches with menace and charm in a way that recalls his Elrond and Agent Smith in equal measures. You’ll never guess until the final reel.”

According to Tongil Tours‘ Twiiter account, Mystery Road will screen at the Pyongyang International Film Festival later this months (dates not announced) with director Ivan Sen in attendance. Yes, THAT Pyongyang. I’d be very interested to hear how it’s received.

Archive Updates

I’ve slowly begun organizing my decades’ worth of Hugo Weaving photos at the Hugonuts Photo Archive over at Photobucket; it’s a lengthy process because I won’t public-share any photos without proper annotation (ie photographer credit, context, etc) and have often stored photos under haphazard titles at best over the years, though I’ve usually posted pics with proper contextual info here. (In the early days, I was as guilty as any hormonal newbie fan of explosive outbursts of photo reposting absent ANY context, so some of my earliest finds I’m having to track down the details for via extensive websearches.) Anyhow I’ll share links to new galleries (and Flickr Archive updates) here, and plan on storing new photos properly to begn with.  Here are the galleries ready so far:

The Key Man Stills and Caps (2006)
Peter Brew-Bevan Photo Shoot (2005) Whence cometh The Tongue Pic 😉
Mystery Road Behind The Scenes (2013)
Mystery Road Stills and Caps (2013)
STC 2014 Season Launch (2013)
Waiting For Godot Publicity Photos (2013)
Dan Himbrechts Promotional Portraits for The Turning (2013)
Daniel Boud Hugo Weaving Macbeth Portraits (2014)
Healing Promotional Pics (2014)
Rene Nowytarger Macbeth Promotional Portraits (2014)
STC 2015 Season Announcement (2014)
STC Endgame Promotional Portraits (2014)
STC Macbeth Production Photos (2014)
STC Macbeth Promotional Images (2014)
STC Macbeth Reherarsals (2014)
The Mule Stills and Caps (2014)
Tim Winton’s The Turning at Berlinale (2014)

Remember that this is very much a work in progress, and that some galleries are incomplete. I appreciate your patience.

Also, a new addition to the Flickr Article Archive: a 2002 SundayHerald Sun Hugo Weaving cover story/interview and accompanying piece on The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers from December 2002. I’ve long craved this piece for my collection (having read some scans on the now-defunct Web Weaving fansite) and am thrilled to finally be able to share this definitive interview.