Tag Archives: Cate Blanchett

Hugo Weaving Attends CinefestOz Film Festival, Collects Screen Legend Award


Hugo Weaving prepares to be interviewed by ABC Perth at CinefestOz  Photo: 720 ABC Perth via Twitter

I’m going to try and avoid too much commentary this time and just post all the great new material that’s appeared this week in conjunction with Hugo Weaving’s appearance at Cinefest Oz in Busselton, West Australia. There have been three amazing interviews, (two text, one audio) and a plethora of new photos from both fans and the press. Hugo hasn’t revealed any new projects but continues to say that he’ll be committed to focusing on Australian films over the next year; still not certain if he has already signed on for some of these or is just speaking generally; we’ll have to wait and see. But his interviews reinforce what a lovely, humble person he is and where his true priorities lie, and I’m happy to hear he continues to prefer underappreciated Australian indies to  international projects that would earn him more money and fame, but in most cases wouldn’t serve the full spectrum of his talent. I also appreciate the fact that he feels conflicted about the notion of being named a “screen legend”, but was still willing to appear because it served the greater good of drawing attention to Australian film in general.

Here’s hoping that The Dressmaker becomes that elusive home-grown project that finally has an impact worldwide, and appeals to fans of both his commercial and artistic sides. The participation of Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth certainly can’t hurt, but above all I hope this finally breaks Hugo free of the franchise villain typecasting that has limited how too many international fans perceive him… and that it finally earns Jocelyn Moorhouse the respect she deserves.

CinefestOz Interviews

Here are the three interviews Hugo’s given (so far)… I haven’t yet found any video footage of Hugo’s Cinefest appearances (including last night’s Living Legend gala) but we’ll see if any gets posted. CinefestOz has shared video footage in years past, but none so far this time around. Click on the title of interviews for hyperlinks back to source sites.

First up here’s the Soundcloud version of Hugo’s interview with Geoff Hutchinson of 720 ABC Perth for The Morning Show. You can listen to the full show, which also includes 10-minute chats with David Wenham and Sarah Snook, here. Note that the unedited program will only be available for seven days from original airing.

Here are the text interviews, from The West Australian and The Guardian:

Weaving’s heart is right at home

The West Australian
Mark Naglazas 28 August 2015


David Wenham, Sarah Snook and David Wenham at the Busselton Jetty.  Photo: Courtney McAllister/Mac1Photography via The West Australian. Larger version here

Hugo Weaving is being honoured as this year’s CinefestOZ Screen Legend but the Matrix and Lord of the Rings star is not one for dwelling on his stellar career.

“The only time I look back is when I meet somebody I worked with and I’m trying to remember their name,” laughed Weaving, who is making his first visit to the South West for the five-day celebration of Australian and French cinema.

Although he is best known for his Hollywood blockbusters, he is proudest of the smaller films he has made in Australia, such as Little Fish and The Interview.

“The sad thing for me is that these films are not better known and the directors have struggled to go on to make a second or a third film,” Weaving said.

His passion for Australian movies is the reason he continues to work here, even though he could have a full-time Hollywood career and why he believes events such as CinefestOZ are vital.

CinefestOZ started on Wednesday night with the Australian premiere of Now Add Honey, a family comedy from Wayne Hope and Robyn Butler. It is one of five competing for the $100,000 Film Prize.

Hugo Weaving: ‘Just because Australian films aren’t seen doesn’t mean they don’t exist’

CinefestOz’s screen legend for 2015 on Tony Abbott, reuniting with director Jocelyn Moorhouse and why you’ve probably never seen his best work

by Nancy Groves, The Guardian 29 August 2015


Hugo Weaving on the Busselton boardwalk. Photograph: Courtney McAllister/Mac1Photography via The Guardian.  Larger version here

Hugo Weaving likes playing faceless villains, he once told an American journalist, because it means people are less likely to recognise him in real life. It’s a good tactic but one that certainly isn’t working for him in sleepy Busselton, Western Australia, where he’s in town to be honoured with the title of “screen legend” at the city’s annual CinefestOz festival – home to Australia’s richest film prize.

Over the course of five days, Weaving is repeatedly invited up to the mic – at opening ceremonies, screenings and lunches – and regularly stopped on the street by industry peers slapping him on the back or by local cinema-goers keen to take a selfie with him.

“It’s lovely to be here and a little embarrassing, but at the same time I appreciate it,” says Weaving, folding his 6’2” (188cm) frame into a chair at Busselton’s only hipster coffee outlet. “I do feel honoured but it’s hard to say that.”

This is not luvvie dissembling. Known to the world for his roles in the Matrix, Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, this modest, intensely private man has also been the linchpin in dozens of smaller Australian independent films, as Luke Buckmaster’s rewatching film blog reminds us on a weekly basis. It’s only a shame so few people have seen them.

“I could name 10 films I’ve done where I’ve thought: what a shame they didn’t catch on,” says Weaving, singling out Rowan Woods’ dark Sydney drama Little Fish with Cate Blanchett, as well as Last Ride, Glendyn Ivin’s 2009 film about a father and son on the run across Australia. “Not because I’m in them,” he stresses, “but because they are great works and they express something about who we are.”

His latest outing, The Dressmaker, which premieres at Toronto film festival this month, does not seem destined to disappear. A classic revenge Western dressed up in Dior, it stars Kate Winslet as the titular seamstress who returns from self-imposed exodus in Europe to her small “white-sliced” hometown and its smaller-minded residents. Liam Hemsworth, Judy Davis, Barry Otto, Shane Jacobson and Sarah Snook also feature – a who’s who of established and emerging Aussie talent.

“It’s certainly an ensemble piece,” says Weaving, adding that the days when everyone was on set had a “reunion” vibe to them. The film also reunites him with director Jocelyn Moorhouse, at least professionally – the two have been friends since Moorhouse directed Weaving opposite a young Russell Crowe in her excellent 1991 film, Proof. “There is a sort of subterranean element to my relationship with Joss,” he says. “Proof was a long time ago but then there was the whole Eucalyptus saga. Or tragedy – whatever you want to call it.”

He’s referring to the 2005 Australian film that never was, adapted by Moorhouse from the Miles Franklin-winning novel by Murray Bail and set to star Nicole Kidman, Crowe and Weaving, until Fox cancelled production just three days into filming due to “creative differences” between Crowe and Moorhouse. Reports at the time suggested the differences were all Crowe’s. “The whole film going down was just really sad,” is all Weaving will say. “It was one of the greatest scripts I’ve ever read, just fantastic work from Joss. Fox ended up owning it and I don’t know whether she has ever got it back.”

The incident almost wiped Moorhouse out, Weaving adds, but she is back on confident form with The Dressmaker: “Joss has got such an eye for detail and specific sense of humour. There’s a surface expression to what she says and then something beneath that’s a little darker. I’m kind of interested in that.”

That same formulation seems to sum up Weaving’s acting – on stage, as well as screen. He has recently emerged from playing Hamm in Samuel Beckett’s Endgame at Sydney Theatre Company back to back with taking STC’s award-winning Waiting for Godot to London for a run at the Barbican. A “Beckfest”, as he calls it, and he’s still not had his fill.

“I’m just re-reading his four early novellas, these absolutely beautiful little stories, all different, all difficult, and I’d love to bring to them to the stage. Put two on one night, two the next, mix and match them a bit, possibly on the same set. They are just extraordinary pieces of work. He’s exhausting and wonderful at the same time.”

Whether Weaving gets to realise this project any time soon is another matter. He has been a fixture of Sydney Theatre Company under artistic directors Andrew Upton and (until 2013) Cate Blanchett. But Upton is leaving in late 2015, to be replaced by British theatre-maker Jonathan Church. Does it feel like the end of an era for what, in its regular use of the same actors, began to feel like a rep company?

“It was a very fertile time,” says Weaving. “One thing leads to another and I loved that sense of exploration as a company, of moving forward as a unit.” He praises Upton for his openness and democracy in the rehearsal room, and Blanchett for her poise. “Cate’s extraordinary. She’s in hyperspace in terms of her profile – much more so me. But she manages to maintain her sanity, sometimes barely. I know it’s difficult.”

Is it easier to maintain a private life in Australia than in Hollywood? “Probably, says Weaving. “Possibly, a bit, yes, maybe. You’ve got to actively find that space for yourself. You’ve got to actively disappear. This industry is so vast that once you’re a part of it, you can easily lose yourself and the trade-off isn’t necessarily a great thing for your soul, you know.”

He hasn’t met Church but says “it will be a big change, a bit shift”, adding his hope that Church will nurture acting and directing talent, not just shows. It echoes Weaving’s stance on cinema. “Film is the great artistic medium and yet we don’t see it as that,” he says. “We don’t allow it to be everything it could be.”


Hugo Weaving in front of his CinefestOz 2015 screen legend plaque.  Photograph: Mac1 photography  Larger version here

At a meeting of Chinese and Australian film producers during CinefestOz, Screen Australia showed a promo reel in which big name Australian actors – Blanchett and Joel Edgerton among them – sung to camera the praises of those working behind it. This is more than a sell, says Weaving, citing veteran Australian producers Jan Chapman, David Jowsey and Vincent Sheehan, and cinematographers Donald McAlpine (Moulin Rouge) and Stefan Duscio, whose work on Michael Petroni’s thriller Backtrack could scoop it the festival’s $100,000 prize.

“The industry exists here,” he insists. “Just because films aren’t seen doesn’t mean they don’t exist; doesn’t mean they’re not good. That’s always the tragedy for me. I get so …”. He tails off only to pick up again. “What do we have to do to mature to the extent that we choose to watch and look at our own culture? Why don’t we do that?”

The fault doesn’t necessarily lie with Australian audiences, he says. It comes “from the top”, by which I’m guessing Weaving means government. “Yes,” he says – coupled with a US-dominated industry that makes it hard for any other market to break through internationally. “I’m not into free markets. I think they are just an excuse for destroying things, an excuse to make massive profits at the expense of cultures and people.”

Weaving has never been shy of criticising the Abbott government, voicing his concerns about ongoing cuts to the ABC in 2014, and recently adding his face to the stepped-up campaign for Australian marriage equality. “It’s less about the marriage bit for me” – Weaving and his partner since 1984, artist Katrina Greenwood, have two children but have never tied the knot – “and more about equality. Just because I don’t need to marry, doesn’t mean other people can’t.”

Conversation steers to the UK, where Weaving grew up, and its ramped-up rhetoric on immigration. “Now we’ve got Abbott lecturing the Europeans about what to do: “Turn back the boats.” You think, oh man! This is insane the world we live in.” Culturally, Weaving still feels the influence of his British upbringing. “My childhood and heritage and the stories I grew up with, well, I accept I’m not the purest Australian,” he says. “At the same time, I go back there and I don’t really feel English. We’re all a mixture of all the influences that made us.”

Should the government be protecting Australian film talent with production quotas, as some in the industry have suggested? Weaving sees a bigger picture. When it comes to policy, everything is connected, he says: “Protecting your culture, protecting your environment, protecting your land, protecting your stories, protecting who you are, protecting your thoughts – it’s all crucial.”

And he still doesn’t know what the fix is. “If it were obvious it would have been done. In terms of the skilled practitioners making the films, they are here. And they’ll keep on doing what they do in the hope that somehow, at the end, when the tap’s turned on, something comes out. At the moment, we’ve got rainfall, but it’s not coming out of the tap.”

*****

CinefestOz Photos

Here are all the photos I’ve found of Hugo Weaving appearing at various screenings, events and interviews. Thanks to all the news outlets and fans who shared these! Captions below photos are from original posts by the photographers/sharers.


Behind the scenes Today Show! David Wenham, Sarah Snook & Hugo Weaving!!! @MargaretRiver @ScreenWest #eventswa  Photo: CinefestOz via Twitter


“Hugo Weaving and David Wenham at #cinefestoz awesome to see these guys in WA to support Australian Cinema”  Photo: Lauren Monicka via Instagram


“Couple of icons of the Australian screen #DavidWenham and #HugoWeaving take to the stage at @cinefestoz #cinefestoz ”  Photo: Lucy Gibson via Twitter


“Hugo Weaving as we are about to start” Photo: ABC South West WA via Twitter


“Hugo Weaving & David Wenham commandeer the cobra! @cinefestoz #southwest #australianfilmindustry #cinefestoz.” Aravina Estate via Twitter/Facebook


“Aravina Directors lunch is underway! David Wenham & Hugo Weaving doing some Q & A’s. Simply stunning day!” Photo: CinefestOz via Instagram


“My nephew just met Hugo weaving WFT wow ” Photo: StevoVictoria via Twitter


“Hangin’ with Hugo #hugoweaving #CinefestOZ #filmfestival @ Aravina Estate”   Photo: Tasha Campbell via Twitter/Instagram


“”Hugo Weaving- CinefestOZ Screen Legend!! Check out his plaque outside Orana Cinemas Busselton!”  Photo: CinefestOz via Instagram


“Gold Fever models Libby & Tabs rockin’ the red carpet tonight at CinefestOz Bunbury with the very generous Hugo Weaving. Big thanks to Gemma Collins Makeup & Nadin from Niche for hair. #goldfevervintage #pinupgirlclothing #cinefestoz #cinefestoz #southwestlife #gemmacollinsmakeup #westisbest #downsouth #hollywoodglamour” Gold Fever Vintage via Instagram


“@_ashleejulian_ and #kadiaarmstrong of @cm_management #luluandvee alongside #Hellbunny with Actor #HugoWeaving @cinefestoz red carpet event! MUA: @gemmacollinsmakeupartist Hair: Nadine @nicheforhair Image via Stylo and Thankyou @goldfevervintage #redcarpet #gowns #models #glamour #southwestlife #WADesigner #aussieactor #cinefestoz ” Natalie Angus via Instagram

Photo: Guardian Aus Culture via Twitter

“Just chilling with @WenhamDavid, #HugoWeaving & #ShaneJacobsen and the @lomaxmedia” Grant M Fletcher via Instagram


Hugo interviewed on the red carpet at the Living Legend gala, 29 August CinefestOz  Photo: Busselton-Dunsborough Mail


Hugo on the red carpet at the Living Legend gala, 29 August CinefestOz  Photo: Busselton-Dunsborough Mail


Hugo interviewed on the red carpet at the Living Legend gala, 29 August CinefestOz  Photo: Busselton-Dunsborough Mail


“And then Hugo said……… When I lead in with “I love you and that’s ok… ” you know hilarity and silly buggerish will ensue. Great opening night @cinefestoz here in the beautiful southwest. Welcome to country by Josh Whiteland; smooth tune from the glamourous Local Vintage fine local bubbles followed by the Australian movie premiere of Now Add Honey. Robyn Butler you are absolute joy to watch and SO funny. What a cracking cast.” RemedyStore via Instagram

Other CinefestOz press: Sarah Snook (Hugo’s costar in The Dressmaker) was interviewed by The West Australian. And Hugo is briefly quoted in a festival-themed article at CommunityNews.com.au And there’s a full gallery of photos of the Living Legend and Awards gala at the Busselton-Dunsboriugh Mail.

The Dressmaker

We won’t have too long to wait before Hugo’s next film (and last completed project for awhile) debuts with the World Premiere Gala for The Dressmaker at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 14. While Hugo hasn’t officially confirmed is presence at the premiere, I would be very surprised if he didn’t attend, as he’s been very supportive of the film and his director in all of his recent interviews, and has always gone to TIFF in the past unless a prior commitment prevented him.

Meanwhile, the film’s social media presence has kicked into high gear recently, sharing some new photos and character profiles. Here’s their formal introduction to Hugo’s character, Sergeant Farratt:


“Meet Sergeant Farrat. The local policeman and first to see Tilly’s magical skill with thread and silk.” The Dressmaker via Twitter/Facebook

The film has also secured British distribution and will premiere in the UK on 6 November. (The film’s IMDb page lists October and November 2015 release dates for Australia (29 Oct), New Zealand, Turkey, Argentina, Portugal, Thailand and Brazil, with the US given only a vague 2015 tentative release date.)  It is also slated to screen at Korea’s Busan Film Festival in October (date TBA).There are additional articles about the film at Premier of Victoria and The Border Mail, the latter including a interview with novelist Rosalie Ham and producer Sue Maslin.

Fans will also want to check out Rosalie Ham’s television interview on Network 7’s The Daily Edition.

The Hobbit Trilogy Expanded Editions Get Theatrical Release

In advance of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy completing its Expanded Edition release on DVD/Blu-Ray this fall, all three films will be re-released in the expanded cuts to theatres in 500 locations on October 5 (An Unexpected Journey) October 7 (The Desolation of Smaug) and October 13 (The Battle of the Five Armies). This will be fans’ first opportunity to see Five Armies in long form, and, as with last year’s marathon trilogy screenings, these will feature special introductions from Jackson. Here’s the official trailer for the reissue. You can buy tickets (US locations) here. The extended cut of Battle of the Five Armies has been re-rated R for violent content, but no specifics on whether Hugo Weaving has any additional footage. I’m guessing not from early descriptions of the 20 minutes of new material, which seem to focus on the titular battle. (Also, Hugo has mentioned in interviews that filming the additional scenes for his expanded role in the film (ie the five minute rescue of Gandalf near the beginning of BOFA, also featuring Cate Blanchett and Christopher Lee) only took a few extra days.) I’d absolutely love to be wrong. I’m not sure whether my finances will permit me to indulge in the theatrical re-release, though I’d love to go. (I will be investing in the Blu-Ray eventually.) I first saw LOTR in the expanded cuts prior to Return of the King’s debut  2003, and I’ve always thought the theatrical edits of those films were inferior… but no one would argue that LOTR is generally the superior trilogy of the two and had much lengthier source material to draw from than The Hobbit.


via Warner Bros Online

Hugo Weaving Featured in Two New Pro-Equality PSAs, Attends STC’s The Present Opening

Though Hugo has mostly been taking an extended break since Waiting For Godot ended its London run. I do apologize for not getting his few but very welcome public appearances posted here in anything resembling a timely manner. Since the last entry I’ve lost a beloved pet and adopted two new ones, I work three part-time jobs with highly unpredictable hours, and I’ve had all sorts of other distractions from family, friends and other Life Complications, not all of them bad. I do update my Twitter feed most days because most of my friends tend to congregate there, but do appreciate the context this forum allows.

I was lucky enough to attend a screening of Hugo’s film Healing, costarring Don Hany, Xavier Samuel and Mark Leonard Winter, on August 14 in New York City. Though I sometimes fault my own “cussed orneriness” about waiting to see Hugo’s films on a big cinema screen (whether or not there’s any hope of such a screening actually materializing) this is one instance where I’m absolutely glad I did. The DGA Theatre in New York City offered Craig Monahan’s beautiful film the pristine visual/sound presentation it deserved. Monahan himself attended, discussed making the film and took questions from the audience after the screening, discreetly but definitely suggesting the film’s US distributor had dropped the ball dumping the film straight to DVD with no fanfare and a risibly inaccurate cover illustration “showing Hugo Weaving looking like he did in The Matrix.”   😉 The DGA screenings in New York and, last week, in Los Angeles are part of Monahan’s attempt to get the film properly seen here after too few film festivals took a chance on it, seeming to prefer “edgier” fare, though at this stage I would consider a prison-set film NOT fixated on violence and rape to be ahead of the pack. I’ll offer some thoughts on the film later; if any of you fans has a chance to see this film in a theatre– or on high-quality HDTV equipment with decent surround-sound– you should go for it.  In some ways I’m disappointed I wasn’t able to first witness Strangerland under such optimal conditions, but I’m still hopeful I might get that chance later. That, The Key Man and The Turning are Hugo’s only indie films since 2005 that I haven’t managed to see in a theatre. Yes, I actually managed to see The Tender Hook in a theatre too. Still can’t quite believe that happened… but just goes to show you never know what opportunities might come up, so always be ready. 😉

#WeCanDoThis and #IStandWithAdam TV Spots

Hugo Weaving lent his presence to two important public service announcements that aired on Australian TV to coincide with internet awareness/hashtag campaigns. The first, #IStandWithAdam, depicts many prominent Australian actors, politicians and athletes voicing their support for Adam Goodes, an Indigenous Australian athlete who has faced racist taunts and jeering from some Australian-rules football fans.  (Goodes plays for The Sydney Swans; Hugo is a long-standing fan often spotted at games.) Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh, among many others, also appear in the two-minute spot. You can read more about the campaign at The Age, BBC Online, The Sydney Morning Herald and ABC.


via The Age

About a week after the #IStandWithAdam spot appeared, Hugo also joined in the marriage-equality campaign #WeCanDoThis. Rather shockingly, even the US was ahead of Australia on this important issue… ideally this lapse will soon be rectified. Marriage equality has been the law of the land in my state for ten years now and has done nothing to impinge on the sanctity of “straight marriage”… even for people on their third or fourth straight marriage. 😉


via Australian Marriage Equality

Here are a few of my caps from both PSAs.

Hugo Attends Opening of STC’s The Present

On August 8, Hugo attended the premiere of Sydney Theatre Co’s new production of the rarely-mounted Chekhov play The Present, starring Cate Blanchett, Richard Roxburgh, Jacqueline McKenzie and Susan Prior. Reviews have been generally positive; you can read a few at The Guardian, Limelight Magazine, The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald.

Here are the only four pics of Hugo at the premiere that I’ve been able to find thusfar, along with my favorite of the production photos.


Hugo Weaving at the opening night performance of STC’s The Present  Photo: Jennifer Polixenni Brankin/Getty Images


Photo: Jennifer Polixenni Brankin/Getty Images


Photo: Mark Sullivan/WireImage


Photo: Mark Sullivan/WireImage


Cate Blanchett, Richard Roxburgh and the cast share a quiet evening at home 😉  Production photo by Lisa Tomasetti (full set of her photos here)

Strangerland DVD/Blu-Ray

A month after it was (barely) released to US cinemas, Strangerland debuted on DVD and Blu-Ray August 18. (It has been available on these formats in Australia for a couple of months.) Though the cover art is different, both the R4 and R1 home releases seem to feature similar bonus features, though the Australian DVD breaks them down into smaller categories (ie by actor/director).   You can also rent the film via Netflix and the streaming services that offered the VOD when the film came out last month (Amazon, Vudu, iTunes.) Some of the more comprehensive/well-written assessments of the DVD/Blu-Ray (and the film itself) appear at Galveston News, Film Ireland, Edge Media Network,

There are also contests to win a copy of the US Blu-Ray and poster at several sites, including The Film Stage, Slant Magazine and Dread Central. (Though, IMHO, there should be a rule that only sites which give a film positive or supportive reviews should get free copies to dole out.) 😉

And you can read more info on the locations for the film at Screen NSW.

The Dressmaker

The Adelaide Film Festival will hold a preview screening of The Dressmaker (starring Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Sarah Snook, Liam Hemsworth and Hugo) on 16 October in advance of its 29 October Australian release. For more details go here.  The film’s world premiere (specific date TBA) will be at the Toronto International Film Festival in September… ie less than a month away! 😉

Author Rosalie Ham spoke to News 7/Yahoo about her excitement over seeing her novel adapted for the screen, as well as her role as an extra in the dance hall scene.  The video interview is several minutes long but, alas, features no Hugo footage apart from what’s already in the trailer.

There are two new paperback versions of Ham’s novel: a more generic reprint (still an improvement over the sickly pink-and-green original cover design) and a film tie-in which come out next month. I impatiently ordered the first one offered, which turned out to be the generic one, but since Hugo’s character isn’t depicted on either version, I can’t complain. The film tie-in, available for pre-order, features Kate Winslet as she appears on the film’s poster.

I’ve read a few pages and already love Ham’s caustic, witty “voice”, which could be problematic when it comes to adaptation… either the omniscient third-person wit has to be filtered into character dialogue (which can work if done judiciously) or through voiceover narration (please, don’t do this. It rarely works). I have a history of “book snobbery” dating back to when I was 6 and proclaimed the book version of The Wizard of Oz to be better than the beloved 1939 film version. (I now concede I was wrong… both are equally good.) This summer I got a taste of how the other side feels when I fell in love with an adaptation of a popular novel without having read it, then despaired that the novel filled in all the narrative gaps in different ways than my imagination had. 😉 So I’m nervous about whether I should continue reading the book before seeing the film. Previously I have read the book in almost every instance when Hugo starred in an adaptation, and his skill (and that of his costars and collaborators) has usually gotten me over any drastic changes from the book. But I do understand when some people complain that the film version of V for Vendetta is substantially different from the graphic novel– because it IS. In this case I love both for very different reasons. For the most part, the novel and cinema versions of (The) Last Ride are complementary as well… though anyone who disliked Kev’s fate in the film can seek solace in the novel. So I have to decide what to do… but what I’ve read of the novel so far is a sharp-edged delight.

Healing review to follow soon. Spoiler alert though: I loved it. Shouldn’t be missed by any fan of the actors, Craig Monahan or wild raptors.

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.

#STCGodot Ends London Run (Incl Hugo Weaving Fan Pics), Strangerland, Between A Frock & A Hard Place

Waiting For Godot Ends London Run


Richard Roxburgh and Hugo Weaving in Sydney Theatre Co’s Waiting For Godot, London Barbican production   Photo: Alastair Muir/Rex

Sydney Theatre Company’s Waiting For Godot, starring Hugo Weaving, Richard Roxburgh, Philip Quast and Luke Mullins, ended its widely-heralded run at London’s Barbican on June 13, but accolades and wonderful new photos (many from fans who attended performances) continue to appear. I’ll repost as many as I can here, with links back to original sources in case I’ve missed anything. In the case of fan photos, I’ll include their original captions. Most of the reviews of the production were quoted in my previous entries, but I’ll add any new ones between photos; the actors were universally praised, though a few critics found the production didn’t completely jibe with their interpretation of Beckett. (Some had a very elitist tone that implied anything which might appeal to a mass audience somehow misinterpreted the playwright’s intentions… as if he intended for a play about the existential despair of two tramps to appeal to only wealthy academic poseurs who reflexively quote Aristotle’s Poetics.) 😉


Hugo Weaving, Luke Mullins and Richard Roxburgh in #STCGodot  Photo: Alastair Muir/Rex (plus next four)


Hugo Weaving, Luke Mullins, Richsrd Roxburgh and Philip Quast

Terry Eastham, Londontheatre1.com: “Going to be really honest now. When I left the opulence of the Barbican’s theatre I was genuinely confused as to what I had just seen. There is no doubting that the production itself is superb. The magnificent Barbican stage seems to be small and very intimate thanks to Andrew Upton’s staging and Nick Schleiper’s excellent lighting of the post-apocalyptic looking set brilliantly created by Zsolt Khell. And the acting itself cannot be faulted. Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh extract every ounce of personality from Vladimir and Estragon, being so comfortable with each other that even the silences between the characters don’t seem forced or wrong but the sort of silence that good friends can have without feeling the need to fill the vacuum with some fatuous comment…

So, nothing to fault on the production but I really wasn’t sure about the ultimate meaning of the play which, I have to say left me feeling frustrated and unfulfilled. Doing some research today, apparently I am not alone in this. Every nuance of the play is open to interpretation by the audience and this really is a show where every single person watching will have their own highly individual view of the message of the show. Heading home, my companions and I came up with separate interpretations involving dead people, blind dates, wormholes through space and a whole host of others…

Ultimately then, “Waiting for Godot” is an amazing production that three hours after the lights first go down will leave you scratching your head and thinking about it for a long, long time to come.
5 Star Rating”

[CJ: Personally, I find ambiguity and “head-scratching” to be a good thing. Thinking about a play over days– or even years– keeps it vital in a way that a pro-forma production that can easily be described in a sentence might not. Fairly certain Beckett wasn’t thinking about wormholes, though…] 😉


“Hugo Weaving #hugoweaving #waitingforgodot” Momeetsstars, via Instagram


“Not the best photo ever, but I’m happy with it. #stagedooring #hugoweaving #waitingforgodot” Hein, via Instagram


“Waiting for Godot. Utterly moving every single time. And starring Elrond as Vladimir, and Javert as Pozzo? BEYOND WORDS. #WaitingForGodot #theater #London #HugoWeaving” ecaterinaaa via Instagram


“And then it’s night once more. Adieuuuuuuu #Vladimir & #Estragon & #Pozzo & #Lucky #STCGodot #STCOnTour” Lauren Dodds via Instsagram/Twitter


“#SamuelBeckett’s beautiful #minimal seminal #postmodern #existential and #absurd #play #WaitingforGodot at #Barbican #theater with #HugoWeaving #playdate @daliakra @joe_robots” Elaine via Instagram

Limelight Magazine and Absolute Theatre include more of those Review Roundups.


HUGO WEAVING!! I’M SHAKING AND CRYING!!!!” Elise via Twitter (both photos)


“#stcontour” Tim McKeough via Instagram
“brilliant and amazing show #hugoweaving #waitingforgodot” Sarah Chen via Instagram


“Met Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh after their incredible performance of Waiting for Godot at the Barbican!” Marcus Higgins via Twitter


“Me and Hugo Weaving, London,💜💜 aftrernoon. Exeptionnel” Sandrine Destraz via Twitter (plus next two photos)

Artist Mark Winter describes his efforts to have Hugo sign two of his sketches featuring the full cast and Hugo solo at ChicanePictures. These are amazing work (see below), probably as good as Nicholas Harding’s rehearsal sketches, though of course done without the benefit of Harding’s access. 😉 I addressed the whole controversy about autographs and why Hugo might sometimes abbreviate his in the extended tangent below, but I do think it all comes down to timing; Hugo regularly waits until the last minute to enter the theatre and often tries to evade autograph seekers entirely when there are large crowds. He also routinely abbreviates when doing group signings (as at Comic Con in 2010– an event he has said he didn’t particularly enjoy– or film premieres, which he tends to enjoy in inverse proportion to the size of the crowd and the scale of the film. 😉 ). I’ve gotten full signatures when there weren’t as many people around; Hugo tends to be more relaxed and willing to converse or pose then.


Sketch, the Godot cast and their autographs.   Mark Winter via Twitter


Hugo Weaving as Vladimir in Waiting For Godot plus autograph Mark Winter sketch, via Twitter


“#HugoWeaving I really really really love him.11 flight hours and jay lag is worthy,only because of his play. ” Mimo via Twitter, plus next four photos


The Godot cast take curtain calls  Photo: Mimo via Twitter

“Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” #london #theatre #godot #beckett #sydneytheatre #sydney #uk #hugoweaving #richardroxburgh #barbican #amazing” Klara Došlov via Instagram


“Met my hero #hugoweaving while going to see #waitingforgodot ” Lowdown via Twitter


“Hugo Weaving and me” Belegilgalad on DeviantArt

There’s a wonderful Spanish-language account of seeing Godot and the post-show Q&A at Londres en Espanol complete with some lovely photos (see below); fans who missed out on meeting Hugo or getting an autograph can again take solace in the fact that they were far from alone.


L to R: Luke Mullins, Hugo Weaving, Philip Quast. Richard Roxburgh, moderator and Andrew Upton at Godot cast Q & A 9 June. Photo (plus next 3 photos) Londres en Espanol


Roxburgh and Quast sign for fans


Richard Roxburgh

Godot and the touring production of The Maids (starring Cate Blanchett) are prominently featured in a report on STC’s burgeoning profits and renovation plans, at The Sydney Morning Herald. The Daily Telegraph has already included the production on their list of 2015’s Best Plays.

Finally, uberfan Rossetton G shared a mother lode of fan photos of the production and cast signings, these are but a few. You can see the full set here or on her Twitter feed.


Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh Godot autographs (original photo: Lisa Tomasetti)  This and next photos: Rossetton G via Twitter


Luke Mullins and Philip Quast


Quast (supine) with Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh


Curtain call


Hugo signing after the show


Rossetton with Richard Roxburgh (above) and Luke Mullins (Below)

On a more frustrating note, it seems the situation with professional autograph hounds/sellers and paparazzi interfering with fans’ ability to get autographs was as bad or worse in London than it was during the New York run of Uncle Vanya in 2012. While many were lucky enough to have Hugo sign their memorabilia and pose for photos, many others missed out because either Hugo was mobbed by the “pros” en route to the theatre, because he felt overwhelmed or due to time constraints. In Washington DC (Uncle Vanya, 2011) there were security precautions in place to ensure only ticketed theatregoers could approach the stage door. There Hugo and other cast members (with the exception of Cate Blanchett) would often stop and chat with fans and sign or pose for photos. The crowds usually weren’t overwhelming and were unfailingly polite. In New York, this setup was impossible and the cast were usually mobbed both en route to and leaving the theatre. Autograph hawkers would present Hugo with STACKS of glossies from The Matrix, LOTR or Captain America and expect him to sign multiple copies which would clearly then be hawked on eBay. I really couldn’t blame him (or Cate) for finding alternate exits to the theatre, though this short-changed genuine fans of what in some cases were once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

Hugo hadn’t performed in an STC production in London (or Europe) before Godot, and the run was slightly longer than a week, meaning there would be exponentially many more fans waiting for their opportunity to meet him or have him sign.  I wish the theatre had some sensible security measures in place to prevent the “pros” from crowding out real fans, but I understand that sort of thing is logistically difficult. In New York, especially on Broadway, it’s impossible, as many stage doors open directly onto main streets/sidewalk; there are usually a few barricades put up, but very little in the way of crowd control, and certainly no way of controlling who has access to the actors, who are often forced to either spend a huge amount of time attending to a vast number of people (many of whom, as I’ve said, aren’t there to see the play), to sign a few autographs for people lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time right next to the security barricades (and short-change many more) or flee to their waiting cars immediately, either as the fans watch or via an alternate exit. None are optimal solutions, and even successfully keeping the “pros” at bay might not solve the problem, especially if there are a lot of ticketed theatre-going fans and a limited number of stage door opportunities.

During the 2013-4 run of “The Other Godot” featuring Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart on Broadway, the actors got out the word that only play-related memorabilia would be signed, and this helped. (I noticed it was a stated policy for this run of Godot as well, though many fans ignored it.) There was also a ban on requests for photos with the actors, though people were free to take photos OF them: my boyfriend took some great photos as I got my autographs.) In that case the stage door opened right onto the street next to the theatre entrance, making it very easy for everyone in the theatre to immediately line up behind the security barricades the moment a performance ended. I was “lucky” enough to have seats near the rear of the orchestra which allowed me to get in place quickly, and was lucky enough to get signed by all four actors. Sir Ian and Billy Crudup (who played Lucky) in particular were astonishingly generous with their time, signing for pretty much everyone who asked. (As far as I know, Crudup might still be dispensing hugs and signatures outside the theatre.)

Patrick Stewart signed a few dozen autographs then quietly disappeared, disappointing many fans.  He seemed less comfortable with this aspect of fame, a feeling I know Hugo shares, though he’s wonderful and charming to fans when there aren’t quite so many of them. Stewart also “shorthanded” his signature into a barely-legible scrawl, something Hugo is doing a variation of (just signing “hugo w”, though at least this can be readily made out.) I’m sure this is done to save time when there are huge numbers of fans waiting their turn. I don’t think it’s anything personal or makes the signature less “valuable”… if you’re getting the signature for any other reason that to have a cherished keepsake of an artist you admire (or an event you enjoyed), frankly you’re part of the problem.  By that I mean I don’t know or care whether variant versions of Hugo’s signature have different values on eBay or the like. I have always discouraged fans from buying these, as fraud is rampant, and because each legit autograph obtained by a “pro” means one less signed for a fan who actually attended the performance and may have waited years. I do know professional autograph collectors/sellers perversely find inscribed items somehow less valuable, to the extent they’ll sometimes hack off an inscription to a fan from an item then slot the signature into a frame with a generic photo. Real fans would of course find an inscribed autograph the most precious keepsake of all.

I’ve been lucky enough to have Hugo sign for me a few times. I say “lucky” because he’s dodged me and others a few times too… though this can be gutting when it happens, I don’t blame him in the least. I admire Hugo’s modesty and lack of interest in fame for its own sake, so I understand why the notion of signing for dozens of people every night– a number of whom are just having him sign “marketable items” connected to his most famous roles, for resale– might give him pause. As fans, we don’t have a “right” to autographs. It’s a privilege we’re sometimes granted, but actors deserve their privacy and space too.

As for what advice I’d have for other seeking autographs, I have a few suggestions, but there are no guarantees; as I keep emphasizing, it all comes down to luck. But it helps to attend more than one performance for a play, as this increases your opportunities to get signed. Try to attend less-busy performance nights (I usually try for a Tuesday) rather than Friday/weekend evenings which will be busier. (This may fluctuate based on a theatre’s schedule: most US productions are dark Monday with nightly performances Tuesday through Sunday and matinees Wednesday and Saturday (or Sunday in some cases). Don’t expect to get signed on the last night of a performance, as there are often cast parties and celebrities in attendance who’ll be granted extended backstage access. Even if an actor leaves via the stage door in these cases, he may well be exhausted. If you’re attending on a day with two performances, try for the earlier one for the same reason. but be aware the actors may be pressed for time in either case, and in some cases might not even leave the theatre. Don’t breach security, don’t approach the actors on their own time (I did once get signed when Hugo was entering the theatre, but I felt a bit dodgy about the whole thing).

If permitted, have him sign something unique which has personal meaning to you, but is NOT connected to his most famous work, ie so he’ll know it won’t be resold, and that you’re aware of his entire career, not just the odd franchise. (I had my loveliest response from Hugo when I had him sign my DVD of Last Ride.) If the venue posts rules about what can be signed, or whether or not actors will pose with you, abide by them. I’m often asked about gifts, but have never tried giving them; in New York in particular security can be strict about that sort of thing. The best anecdotal stories about actors receiving gifts involved handmade or particularly creative/unique items. Finally, allow for the possibility of failure and understand that it’s nothing personal. There many actors who’ve creatively dodged my every attempt to get an autograph (Cate Blanchett springs to mind; she signs sparingly if at all. Many actors have no-autograph policies.) Your emphasis should be on enjoying the work– the play, film or whatever you’re there to see– rather than on bagging that autograph. And keep trying. It’s good to have long-term goals or dreams. I waited over 20 years (and saw many plays) before I got signed by McKellen and Stewart, then got signed by both within 30 seconds of each other, then it was all over. 😉 It was as amazing as you’d expect, but you can’t harbor dreams of extended conversations or of an artist intuitively understanding just what he’s meant to you over all these years.

As always, my eternal gratitude to all the fans who shared their photos and stories. It made for a wonderful vicarious experience for all of us who couldn’t be there in person.

Strangerland

Kim Farrant continues to do most of the publicity for Strangerland in its Australian release, and has given many in-depth, thoughtful interviews on her process of making the film, You can hear/read these at SBS (also features three short scenes from the film), ABC Radio Brisbane, Junkee, Community News, Foxtel Screen, Rip It Up, Eff Yeah Feminism podcast, Film Ireland,

The most in-depth discussion of the film is probably a fascinating 35 minute conversation at Ben Mizzi’s Screen Director Podcast. The article which gives the most attention to Hugo’s contribution is at The Australian. (Print version here.) ” ‘Knowing him as a person, we both realised this part of him doesn’t get seen on screen,’ Farrant says. “Hugo’s often portrayed on screen as this villain, a cold, aloof man and he’s actually very sensual and beautiful and loving and sensitive, so it was: ‘Yes, let’s cast him!’ ”

Farrant discusses her future projects at Inside Film: one hopes she doesn’t fall into the trap of so many directors who come to the US either to be treated shabbily (as was Rowan Woods) or downgraded to tedious franchise gigs (too many to count.) Yes, I know the US media considers a director to have only “made it” when they get that Marvel franchise gig (or the equivalent) but I strenuously disagree. 😉

You can hear positive or leaning positive audio reviews at ABC News Breakfast Here are quotes of text reviews with links back to sites of origin:

Glenys, The Ponder Room: “Set in hot outback Australian the imagery is beautiful, think Picnic at Hanging Rock, which Farrant explained was one of her influences…

Strangerland is a slow burn. It explores a mothers anguish, our perceptions of people with diminished mental capabilities, and what happens when secrets are kept. It’s always good to watch Weaving at work and this was no exception. Kidman appears suitably vulnerable as a women suppressing her own demons. The young cast of Maddison Brown, Meyne Wyatt, Sean Keenan and Nicholas Hamilton suggests that the future of Australian film is in good hands.”

***

Michael Bodey, The Australian: “Kim Farrant’s Strangerland is a cool whodunit and character study featuring charismatic performances from Nicole Kidman and Hugo Weaving. Joseph Fiennes’s turn as the absent husband is a handbrake on a moody film, though.”


Hugo Weaving as David Rae in Strangerland, from the film’s press kit

Alex Doenau, Trespass Magazine: “Australia is a big country, with the capacity for many stories. Some of our finest stories have been brought to the screen courtesy of Nicole Kidman, and this time she has swapped BMX Banditry for desolation of the soul. For the most part, it works…

Strangerland is a movie that comes down to its performances, essentially filling in a blank slate of relatively anonymous Australian countryside. The fundamental question of why a family that wanted to avoid attention moved to an area small enough that everyone would be at least familiar with them is never addressed, but Kidman and Fiennes still manage to do well as a troubled couple precisely because they never quite work together…

Kidman’s performance is varied, but in a way that complements the film and the character. Sometimes she seems to be literally sleepwalking in front of the camera, and that actually suits the themes of the film, which she has to shoulder herself…  The other standout is Weaving, continuing his streak of well-chosen character roles in Australian films. The most rounded and approachable character, Weaving is also the touchstone for the film’s barely explored racial issues, which largely manifest as obvious red herrings…

A stirring portrait of a couple that should possibly have never been together, Strangerland is an uncomfortable experience that works because of its scattered pieces not quite fitting. A daring debut that hypnotises as it obscures its core truths, and proof once more that Nicole Kidman is an asset to any country’s film industry.”

***

Cara Nash, FilmInk: “There’s no doubting that Farrant has a gift for mood, building a sense of dread, isolation and gaping sadness that threatens to swallow everyone whole. Strangerland is a challenging watch, but it’s also wholly compelling, and that’s largely owing to the superb performances across the board. Kidman is in fearless form as Catherine, a woman wracked with pain, guilt, self-doubt and a desperate need for connection – whether that be with her emotionally cold husband, the town’s empathetic cop or her wayward daughter, who she questions how much she is like. As always, Weaving is solid as an inherently decent cop trying to navigate his way through increasingly complex moral territory, while one feels Fiennes’ Matthew may implode because of all the repressed rage he’s carrying around…

The idea that the Australian outback is a dangerous and unknowable landscape is one that has populated many a local film, and while Farrant introduces ideas about the spiritual connection to the land of indigenous people, these ideas are never fully fleshed out. The filmmaker, however, bravely refuses to offer any type of closure – which is fitting given the many heartbreaking, haunting questions her central protagonists are left to live with. ”


Hugo Weaving, Joseph Fiennes and Nicole Kidman

Glen Falkenstein, Film Ireland: “Farrant’s focus on Catherine’s feelings of grief and hopelessness drove much of Strangerland, resulting in an eerie, disquieting and all-round consuming tale of two estranged parents coping with the loss of their children. The performances from Weaving and Kidman in particular were practiced and immediately impactful. As the characters steepen into fear, panic and at times hysteria, the very visceral racial and sexual tensions between the characters came to the forefront, resulting in several tense and confronting sequences. No small part of the film, the relationship of both Indigenous Australians and the recent arrivals to the land played a crucial role, driving much of the dramatic tension.”

***

Andrew Nette, Pulp Curry: “What makes Strangerland innovative is its portrayal of female sexuality, both Lily’s and her mother, Catherine’s, which is unflinchingly rendered and is something you won’t see very often because of the hot button issues it touches on. As part of this, Farrant puts a new spin on the how the parents deal with their grief over the missing children. This involves her examining a shadow side of female emotion that is seldom talked about, let alone put on the screen…

Strangerland also excels in depicting the sense of frustration and desperation faced by the parents and the police at the prospect of having to search for two missing children amid the huge expanse of inhospitable countryside. The way the camera pans and sweeps over the desert and gorges is both beautiful and terrifying. Farrant is also to be congratulated for eschewing an easy plot resolution in favour of something much darker.”

***

Glenn Dunks, Writing: “Kim Farrant’s Strangerland is deeply, uncomfortably Australian. In many ways, it goes right to the heart of the country as a family infiltrate a place that is unfamiliar and even hostile to their arrival. A family, all of whom hold secrets and potentially criminal pasts. They could have been dressed up in Colonial costumes and set 150 years ago without much of a narrative alteration, which is probably much the point of Farrant’s debut feature. How our convict pasts have manifested as a society that turns on its own as much as the other…

Most of all, however, Strangerland reminded me most of all of the early features of Peter Weir. The aura of Picnic at Hanging Rock’s lingering natural menace mingled with repressed teenage female sexual awakening hovers heavily over this new film albeit in a more narrative-focused way. Weir’s The Last Wave, a film that has challenging ideas over the role that one of Earth’s oldest civilization and their subsequent genocidal mistreatment might play in our way of life, is also evoked although Farrant doesn’t go quite to the extent of that film’s chilling, apocalyptic ending…

Despite the power of that particular scene and the performance of Kidman that crescendos in the dying sunset of the film’s final passages, Strangerland’s final act is still somewhat bungled in terms of its pacing. Hardly a new issue with Australian film as Farrant is clearly trying to leave a lasting impression of mood rather than a satisfying narrative conclusion, although the promise of the previously raised concept of mysticism isn’t fully delivered upon either. Likewise, the character of Lily is clearly one that we’ve seen before, most prominently in Rachel Ward’s Beautiful Kate (this could almost be a sequel), although her naff teen poetry is comically on point (“Their marriage is a farce / such a pain in the arse”, for instance). Still, I found so much to admire in the glowing, dusty cinematography of P.J. Dillon, Keefus Ciancia’s haunting music and the performances of Kidman, Hugo Weaving and Lisa Flanagan that I didn’t mind much at all. I was deeply impressed by Strangerland and likely for many of the reasons that others have not.”


Alternate poster for the film’s Australian release

Bernadette Pierce, The A and B Film Podcast: “Many critical reviews of Strangerland cite a lack of focus and believable character development and while watching the film I too found myself longing for certain aspects of the story to be focused on in lieu of another story that invokes the dangers, mysticism’s and history of the Australian outback. Reviews have also been critical of the ‘distracting sexuality’ in the film, Farrant has stated that she wanted to look at ways that people deal with extreme emotions, in particular those who use sex as a way of dealing with those emotions. The Parker women use that primal desire and act to cope with varying degrees of apathy, loneliness and for Kidman’s Catherine – the fear and grief she feels regarding her missing children and as the film progresses, her uncertainty about her husband. Perhaps how you respond to these character actions will depend on your own life experiences and propensity to use irrational or even self-harming coping mechanisms. I found the portrayal of sexuality in the film to be interesting, unsettling and honest.”

***

I’ve added the full Strangerland press kit and a couple of stills featuring Hugo to my Flickr Hugo Weaving Archive. And here are my scans of a Sydney Film Fest brochure:


Much larger version here.

Between A Frock and A Hard Place

The new, 21st anniversary documentary about the making of one of Hugo’s most important films, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, aired tonight (June 18) on ABC in Australia. The film features interviews from the cast, including Hugo (you can see a brief but delightful sneak peek below), narration from Terence Stamp and an exploration of the film’s cultural impact, and the LGBT rights struggle in Australia that made it possible. There are a lot of wonderful reviews and discussions of the film; you can read a few at The Guardian (includes some trivia about the film), Out In Perth, The Australian, Daily Review/Crikey, news.com.au,  and TV Tonight. International viewers never fear, the film will be released on DVD/Blu-Ray early next month. You can order it at JB Hi-Fi but it always pays to shop around. (JB does often have the best price, but not always.) Bear in mind this is a Region 4/PAL presentation, so you’ll need the appropriate region-free hardware or player if outside Australia. (The cheapest option is the VLC Player, which is a free download and is my go-to for playing virtually anything my stand-alone player or other software barfs on.)


30 second promo of Hugo Weaving’s interview from A Frock and A Hard Place, via ABC-TV, YouTube

Here are some great archival images that have appeared in conjunction with the documentary:


Hugo Weaving discovers Mitzi in the makeup trailer  Photo: AACTA via Twitter


“#throwbackthursday Interviewing Hugo Weaving, Stephan Elliott and Terence Stamp ahead of the release of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, September 1994” Angela Bishop via Instagram; read the rest of her account of interviewing the cast back in the day here.

The Dressmaker

A couple of items on Hugo’s late 2015 film The Dressmaker, directed by old friend Jocelyn Moorhouse (Proof) and costarring Kate Winslet, Judy Davis and Liam Hemsworth: producer Sue Maslin and author Rosalie Ham discuss the project with RMIT (The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology),   and Maslin addresses the problem of a lack of women in the film industry at Panorama at syn.org.au.

A Few More Hugo Weaving Pics From Sundance; The Key Man Finally Released on DVD, VOD; Endgame

A few quick items to report while we wait for Hugo’s next big project, his role in Sydney Theatre Co’s Endgame (now in rehearsal) to appear in the online media.

First, my suspicion that photographers may have been olding back some of their best images from Sundance continues to be proved right: these stunning portraits by LA Times photographer  Jay L. Clendenin (posted to Contour by Getty Images) were just posted recently, though they were taken on 24 January. They’ve already become very popular in the fandom for good reason.


All five photos:  Jay L. Clendenin/Contour/Getty Images

Victoria Will’s tintype-style portrait has also been widely posted, now in larger formats without the watermark:


Victoria Will, via Yahoo News

The Key Man Finally Available On DVD

Longtime Hugo fans were excited when the DVD/VOD release of Hugo’s long-stalled US indie film The Key Man (costarring Brian Cox, Jack Davenport and Judy Greer) was finally announced. The project was filmed on location in North Carolina and Virginia in late 2006 (though it’s set in Massachusetts) and was in post-production limbo for many years before finally screening to mixed reviews at SXSW in February 2011. Then fans had to wait still longer for a proper distribution deal to take place; Screen Media finally acquired the rights last year. The DVD popped up unheralded on Amazon this week; US viewers can stream the or purchase the VOD version of the film in Standard or High Definition. VUDU also has the film available. So far Netflix is only offering the eventual DVD rental; the DVD comes out 17 March, with Amazon and other sites taking pre-orders.

We also finally have a trailer for the film, which I’ll embed below, followed by a few still images.


PopcornFlix Too via YouTube

You can also watch the film’s opening credits free on VUDU.


All screencaps are mine, from the film’s trailer.

i may take additional screencaps once I’ve had time to watch the film, but I probably won’t post an abundance of those out of context until the DVD is officially out and fans have had a chance to watch it. I do get annoyed when people post screencaps (especially those containing spoilers or salacious content) from a film I haven’t had as chance to see yet or that isn’t widely available to fans, so I won’t be a hypocrite. I know a lot of fans watched this film in bootleg form, but I’ve held out for a proper release.  I have no idea yet whether it was worth the wait, but I do think I owe Hugo and the other actors involved and the filmmakers they chose to work with that amount of respect. I’m not an absolutist on this front: I am resigned to the fact that some of Hugo’s early TV work will never be properly released on home-viewing formats, particularly since even a landmark miniseries like Bodyline couldn’t get a DVD release without chainsaw editing that removed most of the nuances from Hugo’s character. 😉  So I do own a “unofficial” release of the unedited Bodyline (I bought the official version too) and a few other 90s TV rarities. I don’t blame other fans for doing so, or even for despairing that The Key Man would ever see the light of day in a proper global release. But I do hope fans always purchase the legal versions of Hugo’s films (or rent them, or– best of all– see them in cinemas) when they do become available, because the independent filmmakers Hugo prefers to work with need and deserve this support.


The Key Man’s US DVD box art

If I do elect to take screencaps I’ll post them to the Photobucket archive, so fans who’ve already seejn the film can have a look. Again, I’m only stating my own policies and opinions here… if you happen to like ogling revealing screencaps out of context, I’m not about to stop you. 😉 In some cases (The Right Hand springs to mind) it beats sitting through the film. I’m hoping The Key Man defies expectation and is a lost gem. And that as a Red Sox fan I don’t have to post a lot of corrections after viewing it. (Yes, you probably could’ve sold the Sox cheap circa 1975. But even then, Fenway was much more majestic than that puny ballpark in the trailer.) 😉

Endgame


STC promo banner for Endgame, including Hugo Weaving portrait by James Green

As I mentioned at the top of the update, Hugo Weaving is now in rehearsals for Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, which will debut at STC at the end of March. (They’ll almost certainly share rehearsal photos and other promo material before then.)  According to Broadway World, Tom Budge has replaced Robert Menzies in the role of Clov (the son of Hugo’s character Hamm). Menzies costarred with Hugo in last season’s Macbeth, and had to drop out due to illness. We wish him a speedy recovery.

The Guardian previewed STC’s production alongside a rival version being mounted by Melbourne Theatre Co.this year. Ironically,  MTC’s staging costars Luke Mullins, who played Lucky in STC’s 2013 adaptation of Waiting For Godot starring Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh, which will be revived at London’s Barbican this June. (Tickets are still available for both Endgame and Godot.) STC News confirmed that Artistic Director Andrew Upton (who’s directing STC’s Endgame as well) will step down at the end of his current term. News reports (including those in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, Daily Review and Variety) include Hugo’s name among fantasy successors, but last time this issue came up in 2011, Hugo said he absolutely wasn’t interested. Most insiders suggest the post will go to a director rather than an actor. Upton and his family (including his wife, whom you may have heard of) are supposedly moving to the US, though I hope Cate will still focus on theatre and decent indie roles, as Hollywood has no clue about what to do with her and most other actresses over 40. (No, “wicked stepmother” roles don’t cut it.) Upton apparently wants to direct TV… since US TV is often far superior to US moviemaking, this might prove interesting providing he steers clear of the “reality” genre. Also good news: he’s writing a play for the Mrs. 😉

You can read factoids about playwright Samuel Beckett at STC’s blog. You can read Upton’s thoughts on Endgame at Real Time Arts. Upton’s STC is highlighted (with photos from many productions Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett costarred in) at STC’s blog.


Andrew Upton and Hugo Weaving portrait by James Green (via STC News)


Hugo Weaving and Jeremy Sims in Andrew Upton’s 2007 play Riflemind, directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Photo: Brett Boardman/STC Blog

Technical Difficulties

Finally, I apologise for continued technical issues I’m having with Twitter and Photobucket. In the case of the former, I haven’t been able to access more than a few hours of timeline for weeks, and at times am not being notified by the site about DMs and other messages I’d prefer to answer quickly. As of today the latter problem seems mostly resolved, but the former does not. And I continue to find photos not showing properly in archived entries, a problem caused by Photobucket, where I archive most of my Hugo photos. I had though the site finally corrected the problem a few weeks ago, but still find some entries with incorrect notifications that I’ve moved or deleted photos, which I NEVER do upon completion of Hugonuts posts. I’m trying to correct these issues as I find them, but do let me know if you find these errors in old posts. I’ve about had it with Photobucket technical issues but have so many years of photos stored there, it would take months to relocate, and months more to re-embed photos in all my Hugonuts posts from a new location. 😉 So apologies again, and I hope you’ll bear with me as I continue making corrections and moving my archived Hugonuts posts to the “new” WordPress and Hugonuts News sites. My current plan is to eventually have the complete archive 2011-present with a selection of important older posts.