Tag Archives: Don Hany

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.

My Review of The Mule Plus New Hugo Weaving Interviews/Promotion of The Film

After a lot of planning, followed by a lot of frenetic last-minute scrambling around when some initial plans fell through, I was able to make the Fangoria special screening of The Mule at Village Cinema in New York City a couple of days ago. It was a crazy, unique and utterly rewarding evening despite some logistics difficulties (finding a working parking garage within a mile of the theater chief among them.) Though the film is being touted and promoted on the basis of its direct-to-VOD model (and has met with immediate success doing so– more on which later) I found the experience of watching the film in a cinema with a lively, engaged and sometimes mischievious audience much more fascinating than any home-streaming experience could ever be.

The Experience

I had initially planned to head into NYC with my boyfriend, who’s also a big movie nerd (we met over that shared interest, and our somewhat-skewed taste in films), and who’s had the patience of a saint about a certain fandom of mine. But he was unable to make it at the last minute. I’m not in a great place financially at the moment and needed someone to step in at the last minute to help cover gas and parking money. The screening was free as advertised, but going in to New York NEVER is. (In the end, I coulda bought the HD iTunes version of The Mule twice for the parking fees alone…) perversely, my mother (yes, my mother), who knew I was going, had watched some free preview material online and read a review comparing the film to the Coen brothers. I tried my best to dissuade her, being as graphic as possible about The Mule’s content and, indeed, the “event” its entire plot hinges on. While Mum isn’t a prude, an in addition to enjoying the Coens has seen Hugo’s films Last Ride and Mystery Road. But I thought this one might be a bridge too far, and kept trying to find other activities, cafes, bookstores, etc she might avail herself of once she fled the theater in disgust. But she insisted on going and I couldn’t find anyone else so late in the game.

Hugo Weaving and Angus Sampson on Sunrise at 7  More screencaps and Mule promo stills here

Despite some additional delays involving chickens and retrieving some family members from the airport (which I won’t get into) we were able to make good time on the drive into NY. The rain early that day had tapered off, and it was a pleasant, unseasonably warm evening. I ended up being glad we’d left a lot of extra travel time because the parking situation, as mentioned before, was deplorable; two garages within a block of the cinema (both of which advertised online) were boarded up, another two a bit further out were full. (There was some sort of busy street fare going on, which complicated navigation and parking.) We finally found a garage about a twenty minute walk away. Which took full advantage of the situation by charging what the market would bear, ie whatever the hell they felt like. 😉

The line had started forming at the theater when we finally finished our walk. I’d had no idea what to expect as far as the movie crowd was concerned, and thought it might be an odd assortment of gore-hounds and “midnight movie” enthusiasts given the content and the magazine emceeing the event. While there were definitely some of those, I instead found myself amid the most eclectic and possibly the most diverse crowd I’d ever been in, in terms of age, race, fashion sense and taste– but all up for what the movie was going to deal them. The setup was very informal– there was a designated waiting area outside, but none of the ID checks I’d been led to expect, nor, alas, any promo material typically handed out at these sorts of events. The film wasn’t even listed on the marquee outside. (There was a poster in the lobby under Coming Soon– I hope this means there might be a formal theatrical run in NYC, but I don’t know.)

Love that coincidental caption 😉

One group of women seated in front of us immediately brought out a giant stash of mini chocolate candy bars and began eating them. I wasn’t sure if they hadn’t gotten the brief about the film’s content or if they had and were having a bit of demented fun. There were several Australians in the crowd, but only actor Ewen Leslie on hand from the film’s cast. (Looking very differently than he does in the film.) He briefly said a few words of introduction, and apologised for “that scene”, noted he was happy to attend the film’s “New York premiere” and how much he’d enjoyed working on the project and seeing it reach fruition. (There was no Q&A session afterward, alas.)  Then the film began to screen.

Unfortunately, it was evident from the beginning that we would be experiencing technical difficulties with the audio. Several scenes played out with overdriven soundtrack and background score but barely-audible (and sometimes completely inaudible) dialogue.  Fortunatelt they stopped the film after an entire scene (the one where Gavin drops Ray at his mother’s house, and tries to bribe him to go to Thailand) elapsed with no audible dialogue whatsoever. The film was restarted (they said they’d “try a different print”), meaning Ray’s humiliating cavity search at the airport unfolded again… but the sound problem continued, and this time this scene, too, was dialogue free. (Motivating an audience member to shout out, “Now you’re doing it for no reason, buddy!”, and others to blow raspberries when he assured the position.) Fortunately some additional tinkering was done which made the full audio soundtrack audible, if not perfectly balanced.

Aussie fans at a Melbourne preview screening, 23 November  Photo: Angus Sampson via Twitter

The audience was engaged and “participatory” from the start.  We seemed to have a member of Mr. Phuk and his uncle seated behind us, offering a running commentary in both English and Thai. (He never interrupted dialogue and was often amusing.) It wasn’t a sellout crowd but it often sounded like one, with howls of laughter and, at times, gasps of disbelief or disgust in all the right places. Say what you will about the comfort and convenience (and control over the sound quality) of streaming a movie at home– it wouldn’t have been this much fun. Everyone was on Ray’s side, everyone thought Det. Croft completely appalling (but loved him anyway) and everyone was thrilled at the final outcome and giddily chatting on the sidewalk after the screening let out. I have no issues with VOD and watch the vast majority of films that way or on Cable these days. The nearest arthouse is a 40-minute drive from my house and a night at the movies can run anything from $10 for a matinee to $40 for a premiere screening with 3D/IMAX trimmings and I don’t have the time or budget to do that regularly. the Mule’s NYC screening was both “free” and (once parking and gas costs added in) very expensive, but I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. I wish I could see movies that way all the time. But I’m glad I have this crazy fandom which prompts me to make the effort for a select few of them.

Oh, and I haven’t found any official merch for the film, so I made my own. This shirt seems to have been made for this transfer, no? 😉

My Review of The Mule

Before I start, I’d like to say that most of my quibbles about the film aren’t so much about content as about the fact I knew way too much about the film before I saw it, so I’d advise anyone who hasn’t yet seen the film to go ahead and do so before reading this or any detailed review. While I won’t divulge the specifics about the film’s ending or how it comes about, I will be dropping major spoilers about certain characters, along with other hints obvious enough to allow intelligent fans to guess who/what I mean.  One drawback of being in the Hugo fandom is that in immersing myself wholeheartedly in so much promotional material before a film comes out,  I often find the films themselves less surprising than I otherwise might have. I’m unfortunately very good at guessing plot twists and character arcs from the mildest hints in trailers or reviews, and too often trailers or reviews are anything but subtle in the first place. So I’ve made a habit of not watching film trailers or reading reviews of films I’m curious about in all but Hugo fandom cases.

“All but Hugo fandom cases”… aye, there’s the rub. 😉 And I probably won’t quit eagerly devouring promo material for his films (or novels they’re based on, in some cases) despite this tradeoff. It’s far too much fun. But I do know some fans who religiously avoid trailers and all other promo material before seeing a film, and I don’t blame them one bit. In the case of The Mule, most of the film’s funniest lines were in the preview scenes or scene compilations, particularly the “Sweary Supercut”. And several major plot points and turnarounds were also divulged in interviews, with Hugo Weaving himself playing spoiler-monkey on several occasions in discussing the appeal of his character, sometimes quoting revelatory lines from the film in doing so. I don’t fault him too much, and to some extent he’s always been like this– unable to play coy or play salesmanship games when he’d much rather honestly discuss why he loves working on certain films. It’s often an endearing trait. In this case, it robbed me some of this visceral thrill of seeing Croft  [spoiler alert] convincingly turn from an obstructive bully to someone– if not exactly heroic– than far more nuanced and moral than we’d previously been led to expect. It was thrilling anyway, of course, but I would’ve loved for it to have been an utter surprise too. Before the promotional push for this film began in earnest, I was resigned to seeing Hugo’s character either being killed or scatologically humiliated in some way. 😉 Well, the latter does happen, but most of the other cop characters get it far worse than his does, and it’s not the final twist of the plot. And he does deserve that bit of accidental payback. 😉

Anyhow, on to the review. Yes, I know I’ve delayed far too long already. Most people reading this will not only be familiar with the film’s plot, but will have read dozens of variations on the synopsis by this point, so I’ll try to be brief. Again, don’t read this unless you’ve already seen the film.

The story concerns Ray (Angus Sampson), a chronically underestimated, passive mama’s boy who is manipulated into being a drug mule by a seedy pal (Leigh Whannel’s Gavin) , and by circumstances placing his family in danger. His stepfather John, portrayed by Geoff Morrell, owes massive gambling debts to Pat Shepherd (John Noble), the same drug lord for whom Gavin is importing illicit cargo. One of Pat’s hired goons, a Lithuanian heavy named Ziggy, shows up at Ray’s family’s house and explicitly threatens his mother if John doesn’t pay up. Even after reluctantly agreeing to help Gavin smuggle a kilo of heroin from Thailand (Pat has secretly arranged the trip under the guise of a reward for Ray and Gavin’s lackluster football club) Ray tries to welsh on the deal, fearing– wisely, as it turns out– that things could go seriously wrong. Gavin then lies that his own life is in danger, and forces Ray to ingest the full lot of heroin condoms instead of taking half himself as initially promised.

Ray almost makes it through customs despite being bathed in flop sweat and semi-incoherent in answering the customs officials back in Australia, but a silly lie (and a teammates inability to be helpful at a key moment) land him in the predicament we see in all the film’s trailers and posters. Detectives Croft (Hugo Weaving) and Paris (Ewen Leslie) then arrive to escort Ray into “protective custody” (a seedy airport hotel room) until he confesses, produces the heroin (or submits to an X-Ray which will reveal its presence) or goes 7 days without producing it. Ray, still fearing for his friend’s life and family’s well-being, decides to hold out as long as he can. From there, Ray endures mockery and abuse from the cops, threats from Pat and his lackeys (including Gavin) and mostly-ineffectual assistance from his lawyer (Georgina Haig) who is more interested in showing up the leering Croft and beating “the system” than in Ray’s guilt or innocence.  Ray must thus figure his own way out of danger and try to outwit his captors, the criminals who want their drugs, and his well-meaning but unhelpful family members.

Pretty much everyone in the cast does a marvelous job inhabiting their characters, none of whom are particularly virtuous but all compellingly human. If anything, I wish more time could have been spent with the supporting cast– I would’ve liked to know more about the dynamic of Croft and Paris’s relationship before this particular event, given how it is tested later. I don’t fault what’s in the film, I just wish it were a bit longer. I guess I’ve been spoiled by some of the better US and UK series in recent years, which have the luxury of devoting ample time developing even peripheral characters. In the Mule, some characters (particularly Jasmine, and Pat’s crew) are barely sketched out. I fully understand that the logic in trimming this sort of film to 90 minutes, but I would’ve loved more “character moments” which don’t necessarily advance the plot, but give us greater understanding of the participants. I would argue with some critics that the backstory involving Ray and Gavin’s trip to Thailand is indeed necessary to the plot, because we need to understand how Ray’s misguided but genuine friendship with Gavin plays into his decision to endure so much misery– which in turn leads to a key, humanizing moment for Gavin which galvanizes what happens through the film’s final scenes.

Angus Sampson is amazing and empathetic as Ray, who is not stupid so much as infuriatingly passive, and has a poor judgment in friends (which he seems to have inherited from his mother (Noni Hazelhurst), given her pathetic excuse for a second husband.) Leigh Whannell’s Gavin is the worst sort of weasel, but not entirely without human compassion. The scene where he has to decide whether or not he’s going to kill his best friend is one of the film’s most poignant. The fact that both men are ultimately willing to sacrifice so much for each other makes this more than an extended bodily function joke. And Sampson makes you feel every stomach cramp and indignity along with Ray. You’re never not on his side.

Hugo Weaving is exactly as great as everyone says he is– Tom Croft is completely appalling on one level, but Weaving adds profoundly human, endearing little nuances from the beginning which suggest a man of deep insecurities underneath the brutish swagger. Jasmine’s barbed retorts to his constant, sexist patter come off as juvenile “I know you are, but what am I?” playground insults, but Croft at times seems genuinely hurt by them, and lost in the changing, more equitable power dynamic the era (the early 80s, in this cases) is ushering in. In this way he’s a lot like the Gene Hunt character on the UK series Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes– particularly the latter, in which Gene has to cope with a new female coworker who’s not taking any of his bullshit. Croft is very much a man of his time, but that time is nearly up, and he seems to know it.

Ewen Leslie’s Paris is initially more poised, concerned and polite, playing the “good cop” role effectively, but he also has another side to him, and his own set of prejudices and entitlements which could make him more dangerous than Croft. This is the sort of role Hugo often played early in his career, and Leslie does an excellent job, combining the right amount of subtlety and menace.  Again, I’d have loved more scenes of just Croft and Paris, if only to know how much the former is on the latter. Does Paris revere Croft an act out of a mistaken sense of rule-bending camaraderie, or does he regard Croft as a laughable relic whose bluster takes the heat off Paris’s less obvious machinations? I’ll look for hints in subsequent viewings of the film, but I do hope there are a few deleted scenes featuring those two.

Most of the plot is grounded– very convincingly– in a grungy period realism. There’s no “Hey look! It’s the 80s!” exaggeration in the settings or costumes, no too-on-the-nose K-Tel soundtrack featuring Men at Work or Duran Duran. Croft tellingly looks like a holdover from the 70s with his hair, porn-star ‘stache and wardrobe choices, and most characters effectively convey a working class desperation. I found Ray’s eventual means of finding a way out convincing, exhilarating and cleverly hinted at in a few early scenes in the film. There are a few lapses which a longer run-time might have eased– for example, a major character is killed off a little more than midway through the film, then never referenced again, despite being central before that moment. the womens’ roles are a bit too rote and reactionary, despite fine work from Haig and Hazelhurst. My mother is dying to know what happened to Ziggy. I suspect he’s holed up in the same safe-house as Huell from Breaking Bad. 😉 But the fact we keep wondering about what would be peripheral characters or minor details in a lesser film demonstrates how fully-realized The Mule is.

You’ll notice I haven’t yet said a word about what most critics and viewers can’t seem to stop talking about, ie “that scene” and the “brown comedy” upon which the plot hinges. Make no mistake, this isn’t a film for the squeamish. But I wan’t nearly as bothered by the whole thing as I thought I might be. The idea of what Ray has to do at one point is more disgusting than what actually appears onscreen as he does so, and the film’s few fleeting glimpses of the contents of Ray’s bowels are dimly-lit and look suspiciously like chocolate. This isn’t Human Centipede-style extremity for the sake of extremity– it’s no worse than the toilet-diving hijinks in Danny Boyle’s films Trainspotting, even Slumdog Millionaire. (A best picture winner, need I remind you.) Mature viewers should be able to handle it, and immature ones will probably be disappointed it didn’t go further. Oh, and my mother was laughing hysterically during “that scene” and the laxative scene.

The film’s final few scenes are an exhilarating rush, and the final outcome positive if ambiguous. I’ve joked that I’d love to see a Better Call Saul-style TV spin-off featuring The Further Adventures of Tom Croft. 😉 And it’s up to the viewer to guess how Ray proceeds from here. I don’t see him becoming the new local drug kingpin, though there does seem to be an opening in that market. After this film and Mystery Road, I’m going to be mighty suspicious about what’s lurking in my old CRT-monitor TV every time it glitches up. 😉

More Mule Promotion, Reviews and Interviews

I know this entry is already too long, so I’ll try to be quick about this. There’sv a nice new Hugo Weaving interview– in which he discusses The Mule and why he prefers independent film– at The Quiet Earth. I’ll embed the text below. As I mentioned before, Hugo tends to drop plot spoilers about the film, so if you haven’t seen The Mule, be careful in reading his description of his favorite scene. (it is a corker, though. Hugo’s acting is a model of internet conflict, with his actions keeping up a front while his eyes betray anxiety)

Hugo Weaving Talks Indie Films & Crime Comedy THE MULE [Interview]

Hugo Weaving skyrocketed into Hollywood fame as Agent Smith in The Matrix films and over the last two decades, the actor has curated a fine balance of Hollywood films and smaller indie productions, both in the US and in his native Australia. The Mule is one of his most recent forays into indie films.

Written and directed by Tony Mahony and Angus Sampson, Sampson also stars as Ray, the “mule” of the title in a comedic retelling of a real life events surround the first drug mule to be caught by law enforcement.

I had a chance to speak with Hugo Weaving, one of the film’s stars (he plays one of the cops), about the bizarre story, his favourite scene in the film and his preference for working on smaller productions.

The Mule made its debut at SXSW earlier this year and is now playing in theatres and available on VOD.

How did you become part of this film? What attracted you to the role?

Very simply, really. I got sent the script. I read it. I loved it. I thought it was very funny, and very smart, and inventive, and I said yes the next day. So, it was really easy. I just responded to the script and the characters. I thought they were all very well drawn types. But they all had very specific needs and very individual… they seemed very like real individuals to me.

Once I was on board, and I found out some of the other actors came out, and I thought we had a really interesting project on our hands. Leigh and Angus seemed to be very smart actors and just really wanted to get into making films themselves and it seemed they’d had some success commercially, with Saw and Insidious. They had a very smart director friend Tony Mahoney who was directing. Very good eye. Lovely sense of balance, and proportion, and a lovely temperament. And some fantastic actors, who then joined the team as well. A great many. Hazelhurst, Geoff Morrell, Johnny Noble. Even Leslie and Georgina Haig are actually pretty well known in the states. Ewen’s done a lot of theatre in this country and Georgina’s quite new to the business, but it was great to be involved with all those experienced people.

And a fabulous art department as well. So, I sort of felt we were on to something. It was certainly a great project to work on. But primarily the reason I did it was just reading the script.

Disgust and humiliation are huge parts of this film but it’s not a gross out film. They never went too far. How did they create that balance? Were there still times when you guys left feeling like you needed a shower?

There were a couple of obvious days on set where we were dealing with shooting someone with shit all over them. And it’s very funny and serious, so well, how do you shoot a scene like this? How do you cover this? How do you reveal this? And what do you need to see and what don’t you see? You need to tell the story. But if you can tell the story, it’s like anything visually, tell the story visually in a smart way without shoving it in someone’s face is probably the way to go. So you need to tell the story, you need to make it clear to the audience what happened. But beyond that, the imagination of the audience is at work and also you’re engaging them.

So, yeah, there was sort of discussion about how to shoot something really interesting and what do we see and what you don’t. Suppose, okay, you’re on the bed, this is what happened. These people come in the room here. What then happens? Do we drag you off the bed? What happens? And so those sort of discussions were technically really interesting. and just the storytelling. How you tell a story visually. What you include, and what you don’t. So, it was kind of really interesting, very interesting discussion. And it was a very efficient set. We were all involved in the creation of each scene and each day it was a collaborative set.

I felt like your character was the most animated in the film, which created a balance with the other performances. Is there pressure when you’re playing a character who brings that energy to every scene?

I don’t know. It’s funny I didn’t… I suppose when I read it I loved the trajectory of that character. He presents in a certain way and then he’s revealed as actually, although he bends the rules, he’s revealed as being someone who probably upholds the rules more than almost anyone else in the film. I kind of liked that.I guess I never really thought of him as being more animated than anyone else. It didn’t come to blossom that way. That’s great, but I suppose I never thought about that. I sort of thought of him as being very much an old school cop who was possibly a little bit weary and a little bit probably thought he, through his experience, he was able to overcome any situation and probably, you know, particularly sees himself as the alpha male. So, I suppose the physicality of the character that the projecting alpha male signals to everyone else in the room would be something he would do without thinking about it.

I really enjoyed playing him honestly. He amused me to no end. And there was a huge license to be inventive with him. It was a very good script. There was great stuff in there for him to say and some great scenes for any actor playing that role in the script. And they were very happy for me to enjoy myself within that role, which I need. And we sort of set the time that they wanted them to shoot, really in day two, and didn’t look back. It was a lot of fun to do. I can honestly say it was a pretty enjoyable and seamless experience without any hiccups.

I know in the past you’ve discussed this a bit, but can you describe the difference of working on a larger studio film vs. working on a film like this, that is so collaborative?

Very simply, really, it often comes down to the amount of people that you’re working with, so just by and large, and to make a terrible generalization, but it does appear to be true more often than not, the more people you have working on a film, the harder it is for everyone to know what everyone else is doing. So, the communication tends to be a little poorer. And also individual responsibility tends to go out the window. So, the fewer people you have, the more people have to engage with a number of different factors and often the demarcation between jobs becomes a little more fluid. So, people are multitasking, people are being more responsible for themselves, and people are being included in the activity.

That’s why I like, generally, small budget films. I think communication, it’s to a human scale, it’s not to an industrial scale. People are being treated like human beings and not like robots. People are not being, there aren’t assumptions being made about people. Just generally, that would be my political view in life. There are a lot of people in this world who are not treated well, and there are people who have power who don’t think about other people, and what actually it means to be on the end of the food chain. So, basically, by and large, working on a small budget film mean people treat each other better, talk to each other in a better way, and it’s more enjoyable, and therefore, the work you come up with tends to have a greater benefit on humanity.

[Laughs] It’s a massive generalization. And of course I’ve worked on big films, large budget films, where the generosity and spirit on set has been fantastic. Where communication has been good. But by and large, I enjoy small crews and smaller films for that reason. Because I just tend to feel more engaged and more alive, and I think that’s a good thing.

Tell me about your favorite scene in the film.

You don’t get see the entire scene of the film, but you see the guts of it. It’s a scene where Croft and Ray are talking by the window, and it’s the scene just after, when Paris, the other detective, has killed Leigh Whannell’s character, and Ray’s character has seen his friend been killed, and he’s had a run in with Paris, and it’s the scene where Croft comes in and Ray tells Croft that his friend has been killed by Croft’s partner and I love that scene because it puts Croft in an impossible position.

You see him receive the news that his partner’s bent, you see him receive the news that his partner has killed someone. You see his disbelief in that. You see him thinking that Ray’s lying to him. You then see him realizing that he’s not lying to him. You then see him having to defend his partner, even though he doesn’t want to. And you then see his anger at the situation he’s been put in, which comes out as violence against the man who’s actually told him something which is a benefit to him.

So, you got all these incredibly complex reactions and to a very complex situation, and I love that scene because it illicit such a really complex response from both characters, particularly from Croft. I enjoyed that scene a lot because it just revealed a lot and yet… You shouldn’t reveal anything as that character and yet you need to reveal a lot and you need to go through a lot in order to sort of reveal to an audience what’s going on so it was kind of great, and challenging, and enjoyable to do. And technically challenging too just smashing Angus’ head against a window. How do we do that? How hard—[laughs], you know, we want to do it, we need to do it in sound sync but we also need to protect Angus’ head.

By Stephanie O [Celluloid 11.25.14]

Here are embeds and links to a few other interviews that have appeared since the previous entry.

Hugo Weaving and Angus Sampson gave joint audio interviews to 702 ABC Radio Sydney (also featuring CJ Jonson’s review– also available as an iTunes podcast) and 2SER 107.3 FM Brisbane. Unfortunately, neither features embed code, but both are still up and available worldwide, and may be readily downloaded.

There are brief video interviews with Sampson and Weaving at ; some of these sites unfortunately feature international content restrictions. I’ll embed YouTube versions where they exist and thank sites who do so in advance for being so helpful. If you find any of this content unavailable, let me know. I’ve saved copies of everything and can provide a copy or transcript.

Sampson and Weaving video interviews (all taped during the Nov 18-20 media blitz, in a marathon session given the similar setting of each) were featured on ABC Arts The Mix, SkyNews  and SBS2’s The Feed. Fortunately the latter posted a YouTube version:

SBS2 via YouTube (contains naughty language… even from the interviewer) 😉

I’m sorry I couldn’t find embeds for the other two… I’m thinking of taking matters into my own hands on that front… but everything is still in place on sites or origin and all but the In The Mix segment (only a few minutes long) are available to all viewers. I might post caps and a transcript of the In The Mix segment when I have more time.

The film’s Twitter feed recently shared another preview featurette (with behind the scenes interviews) called Ticking Time Bomb:

eOne ANZ via YouTube

And Sunrise on 7 were kind enough to re-post their interview to YouTube, so I can embed it on BOTH my blogs. 😉

Jabba’s Movies via YouTube

You can read the latest reviews of the film (all enthusuastic) at ArtsHub, Salty Popcorn, Pop Culture-y, IGN, Hopscotch Friday, Variety, Reel News Daily, ABC At The Movies (featuring film trailer and two preview scene clips),

And here’s Glitch’s video review;

Glitch Media via YouTube

Angus Sampson was interviewed by Nuke the Fridge, Starlog, The Saturday Paper and Shockya.com. Leigh Whannell also talked to Shockya.com, as well as The Cairns Post. Both appeared on The Crave Online Movie Podcast. Georgina Haig was interviewed by Collider.com about The Mule and her suddenly-burgeoning film and TV career.

I don’t usually give any one DVD/Blu-Ray outlet preferential treatment, and I’ll still encourage fans to shop around for the best price, but I will note that JB HiFI in Australia often has the best prices for DVDs, will ship internationally, and that they have exclusive rights to a special edition of The Mule (out on DVD 3 Dec) featuring bonus content not available elsewhere. Amazon is taking pre-orders for the US version (out 20 Jan), but no info is yet available on bonus features for that edition.

The Mule’s direct-to-VOD marketing strategy has been wildly successful so far, with the film debuting at #1 on iTunes’ independent film charts in both the US and Australia. More on this and how this gamble might save the Australian film industry, at Inside Film, The Australian, The Guardian, AdNews Australia and Reuters.


Hugo Weaving’s much different, earlier 2014 film had its TV debut in Australian on ABC this past Sunday. It remains available for streaming (Australia only) on ABC iView. International viewers may take solace in the DVD release (today) and eventual US distribution promised for next year. Meanwhile here are two featurettes ABC re-posted on the making of the film, featuring Hugo Weaving and Don Hany (and a rambunctious eagle.)

Don Hany behind the scenes with bird-wrangler Andrew Payne. Video: ABC TV via YouTube

Hugo Weaving behind the scenes on Healing Video: ABC TV via YouTube

I know I’m leaving out another raftload of Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies TV spots, but I’ll save those for next time, as none feature any previously-unseen Hugo/Elrond footage. (Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Hugo will be available for the film’s London premiere or promotion, though I’d love to be wrong about that.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my US readers. And a plain ol’ Thank You, Guys to everyone else.  I now this entry is something of a mess and is too long and over-enthusiastic. I’ve been working on it all afternoon and evening (it’s now 3am here) but couldn’t make it any less ungainly. Thanks to all those who stayed with it anyhow. 😉

Battle of Five Armies Trailer Debuts (With a Little Hugo Weaving Footage); The Mule Preview Scene

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

Very quick entry today but since fans have been waiting for this trailer for months, I might as well help in spreading it around. The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armiers full-length trailer finally premiered today at 1pm simultaneously on the Hobbit and Peter Jackson Facebook pages, followed shortly thereafter by Warner Bros. YouTube feed. Since the latter will embed most readily, I’ll post that below:

We finally have a few seconds of Hugo Weaving as Elrond, albeit not much more than appeared in the film still that debuted/was leaked last month, a variation of which appeares in some Hobbit 2015 calendars. Here are a few quick caps I was able to grab of the White Council bit of the trailer (featuring Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Hugo Weaving and Christopher Lee):

“Leave Sauron to me… we play bridge together every Thursday.” 😉

I suspect that the minimal use of Elrond in the film’s advertising does hint he has a brief presence in the film, so fans should have realistic expectations. Remember, Hugo only filmed for a few weeks (compared to two years for the lead actors) and didn’t participate in pick-ups specifically for this film (ie the titual battle sequences) so i suspect he and his felloow White Council members feature in an early rescue sequence resolving Gandalf’s cliffhanger peril at Dol Guldur. As always, I’d love to be wrong about this and see more Elrond footage than expected…

The bulk of the trailer appropriately deals with Thorin(Richard Armitage)’s dark transformation post reclaiming Erebor, hashing out his differences with Thranduil (Lee Pace) to face a greater enemy (Azog, Orcs.. and The Bats of War) 😉

The Mule

At least as entertaining (from my admittedly skewed perspective) have been the craftily selected preview scenes posted to various sites by The Mule’s marketing wizards. The most recent (and longest) debuted on YouTube yesterday (thanks for the conveniently-embeddable version, guys) courtesy Film Festivals and Indie Films :

This scene, presumably early in Ray’s hotel room incarceration, features Croft (Hugo Weaving) and Paris (Ewen Leslie) grilling Ray (Angus Sampson) about his visit to Thailand, including the strangely notorious Tiger Park ;), and tripping him up on one key point. Here are some screencaps:

IndieWire debuted a shorter, more decidedly R-Rated clip featuring Ray’s initial, intrusive examination at the airport. Needless to say I’m not capping that one, though the most infamous stil from that has been widely posted elsewhere. 😉


The film Healing (starring Hugo Weaving, Don Hany and Xavier Samuel) will air on Australian television later this month– Nov 23 to be precise– on ABC TV at 9.15 pm. A DVD/Blu-Ray release will follow (in Australia) the following week, with many sites already accepting pre-orders. More details at Memorable TV and the film’s Facebook page.

The Birds of Healing; Hugo Weaving Berlin pics; The Turning and The Mule Secure Int’l Distribution


Since my last entry, several new interviews, reviews and promotional pieces for The Healing have been made available. The most in-depth of these focus on what many viewers are calling the film’s “real stars”, its birds of prey (and their handler, Andrew Payne.)

Pinnacle Films continues its lovely series of promotional clips with this 12-minute profile of Payne and the birds he worked with for the film:

Pinnacle Films Facebook

720 ABC Perth‘s John McGlue, who conducted the best of the Hugo Weaving interviews connected with this film, went to the Karnet Prison Farm for an extended interview with director Craig Monahan (and others who worked on/were consulted for the film) to discuss the real-life bird/prisoner rehab programs that inspired the film. (You can hear the birds chattering away in the background.)

FilmReviews.net/Movies At Dusk/Greg King features another in-depth, very interesting interview with Craig Monahan (35 minutes long!). There’s a brief Don Hany interview at In My Community.  And scene-stealer Mark Leonard Winter (and the film’s rats) finally get a profile of their own courtesy Moviehole.

Here are excerpts from the latest batch of reviews (including links back to original sites):

Kirstey Whicker, Glam Adelaide: “The latest film by Director Craig Monaghan (The Interview, 1998), Healing, is a powerful outdoor drama that shows the healing influences of animals which go beyond the traditional rehabilitation techniques for prisoners…

This is a magnificently shot film. Academy Award winning cinematographer Andrew Lesnie (Lord of the Rings trilogy) has used spectacular shots of the birds soaring over the Victorian fields, almost taking the attention of the actors!… 8.5 out of 10”

Don Hany, Hugo Weaving in a scene from Healing (Photo: Cairns Post)

Giles Hardie, Fliks.com.au: “The performances by all are excellent… Healing is not a prison film; there are no shivs or beatings. It is not a bleak rumination on the imprisoned spirit. And it is not given extra credit for being an Australian film as it is dissimilar to any in recent memory. It is an inspiring, intelligent and soaringly gorgeous feel-good movie that will reward all who see it on the big screen.”

Mandy Griffiths, Moviehole: “The film unites Hugo Weaving and director Craig Monahan (“The Interview”) for the third time, and it is hard to think of another film where he is so understated and relaxed in his role. His performance is pitch perfect for the gruff but caring authoritarian figure, providing real heart and understanding to a character struggling with his own personal tragedy, without verging too far into sentimental land. Indeed all the performances are natural and pleasing, with relative newcomer Mark Leonard Winter standing out for his distinct take on character surviving at the bottom of the food chain.”

Mad Dog Bradley, Rip It Up: “And it’s hard to know which are more engaging here: the subtle performances from the cast, especially Hany, or the birds themselves, shown in all their feathery glory and with only the barest minimum of FX or trickery. But perhaps it doesn’t matter, as both help make Monahan’s film soar.”

Peter W Sheehan, ffrick.org (also in CathNews):: “[Hugo] Weaving captures brilliantly the conflicts involved in being someone in authority who cares for others, but has the responsibility for disciplining them as well…

This is a hope-filled film that has a dramatic tale of redemption to tell. It is entertaining, enjoyable, and educational, and there is a moving truth to its telling that is memorable. So far this year, this is the best Australian movie to come down the cinema track.”

Cairns Post has printed one of the most enthusiastic reviews for the film; you can read the online version here, but I’ve embedded the print version below because it included a nice, big film still featuring Hugo’s character. (WordPress users: right-click image, then click “open in a new tab/window” for full-sized article)

Here’s an ad for Healing that’s run in several Australian newspapers:

While Hugo Weaving has been avoiding the spotlight since participating in Healing interviews and photo sessions at the beginning of the month, a few not-too-old pics of him promoting another Australian indie film (Tim Winton’s The Turning) have surfaced courtesy the Australian Embassy in Berlin, Germany’s Facebook page. These photos of Hugo with Australian Ambassador to Germany David Ritchie at an Australian Embassy Berlinale party back on 11 February:

Cannes Yields Distribution Deals For Tim Winton’s The Turning, The Mule

Several of Hugo Weaving’s recent films (completed and in post-production) are in the mix at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, though none are being formally screened. Instead, they’re being shopped for international distribution deals. Two films have already secured new or additional distribution in the first few days of the festival:

According to Screen International, LevelK will finally oversee Tim Winton’s The Turning’s US distribution in partnership with Main Street Films.  Yes, the film was released seven months ago in Australia, and many of us already own the Australian DVD or Blu-Ray… but the film’s complex vision and visual grandeur surely deserve cinema screenings, and I hope the distributors are serious in achieving those. I’m sure they’ll also work out various VOD/Cable/Streaming deals, but that shouldn’t be the whole strategy. (According to the article,  “The film has also sold to Russia/CIS (Russian Report), Benelux (FilmFreak), Turkey (Bir), China (JY) and airlines (Cinesky). Madman released in Australia.” It also screened in New Zealand last fall and, of course, at Berlinale. Its US premiere will be at this year’s Seattle International Film Festival May 25, 26 and 29. (Mystery Road and Healing will also screen at SIFF, so Hugo fans on the US west coast might want to plan the trip.)

Getting much more attention (which should tell you something about the tone of most movie sites, heh heh) is The Mule’s quick sale to a bunch of international markets, including ” US (XLrator Media), Germany (MFA), Switzerland (Ascot Elite), Greece (Filmtrade) and the former Yugoslavia (VIP Media)” according to Screen Daily, which broke the story.  Deadline, ComingSoon.net and many other sites detailed the US distribution deal with XLRator Media, which is tentatively scheduling a fall release for the film.  Coverage has been replete with the usual bodily-function puns. 😉

Strangerland is also being shopped around at Cannes, but as of 17 May no deals have been announced.

And speaking of international distribution, why is Well Go USA dragging its heels on Mystery Road’s US distribution? They secured the rights a long time ago, but thusfar all they’ve done is book a handful of more festival screenings. Better news for UK audiences, as Mystery Road’s Facebook page announced a possible June release there.

Hugo Weaving Radio Interview Promoting Healing; Drawing Godot Exhibit Opening w/Richard Roxburgh

A couple of lovely surprises to share today: the first is a brand new nine-minute radio interview Hugo Weaving gave 720 ABC Perth. The second is a batch of photos our always-resourceful Sydney correspondent Yvette took at the opening of Nicholas Harding’s Drawing Godot exhibit in Sydney. Though both Harding and Weaving were unable to attend (and are possibly vacationing together with their families) Richard Roxburgh more than filled the void with insights, and witty anecdotes about Sydney Theatre Co’s production.


First that new radio interview; Hugo Weaving spoke over the phone with 720 ABC Perth’s John McGlue earlier today “about his movie Healing – and how we can all relate to it.” While most of the interview focused on the theme and working experience of making Healing, Hugo also mentioned his ten years working with Voiceless.org, the Australian animal welfare organization, and noted his goals when reading scripts and choosing projects. (No surprise– he prefers working on any project he finds challenging, be it in theatre, independent film or mainstream (big budget) film, but most enjoys home-grown, human-centric projects like his current film.)

After some of the frustrations we’ve experienced with questionably edited interviews, or radio stations who opted not to re-air or offer podcast versions, it’s wonderful ABC has made this available via Soundcloud, which can be readily embedded at both LJ and WordPress.


Meanwhile, Don Hany gave a video to Jim Schembri via 3AW 693 NewsTalk (Craig Monahan also appears near the end) :

3AW Newstalk/Filmquote Compile via YouTube

Xavier Samuel is the latest actor highlighted in Pinnacle Films’ fine series of promotional/behind the scenes videos:

(Pinnacle Films Facebook)

HushHushBiz posted a selection of photos of Hany at the film’s 8 May Palace Cinemas (Adelaide) screening/Q&A.

And you can read the latest positive and/or thoughtfully-written reviews at A-List Reviews (“…a fine piece of Australian cinema”) and HushHushBiz (“…strong performances across the board and stunning cinematography”).

Healing continues to elicit mostly-positive reviews from both critics and audiences, but I’m saddened to read those audiences haven’t been as robust as they should be, according to Inside Film. I’m completely used to American viewers rushing out in droves to sophomoric Seth Rogen comedies and paint-by-numbers superhero flicks, but it’s depressing that audiences worldwide seem to want the same drivel. I really hope more people will give Healing a chance as positive word of mouth spreads.

Drawing Godot

But enough negativity: here are Yvette’s beautiful pics from the recent Drawing Godot opening at Olsen Irwin Galleries in Sydney. According to Yvette, “Rox’s warm and humorous speech touched everyone’s heart as always.”

WordPress readers: to see full-sized versions of the photos, right-click, then click “open in a new tab/window”.

All photos: Yvette ( @LyridsMC ) Sydney, 10 May 2014

Large, full-color works: watercolour and gouache on paper; All artwork 2013-4 © Nicholas Harding

Richard Roxburgh speaks at the exhibit opening

Again, my eternal thanks to Yvette for sharing these. Yes, Olsen Irwin and Harding have generously posted the full exhibit catalog online, but virtual versions of the images give no sense of scale, or how the exhibit looked in situ, which is really quite interesting. Also, we could all use a bit more Roxburgh in our lives. 😉 (By the way, US viewers can finally view the first two seasons of Rake– the real one, not that now-canceled American imposter– on Netflix.)

She also confirmed that an international tour of STC’s Godot still remains a possibility for next year, though I must stress NOTHING OFFICIAL has been announced. I do have a bad feeling that New York might be the least-likely city for a reprisal because the area is still basking in the warm glow of Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart’s amazing Two Plays In Rep version… and Stewart and McKellen themselves had to wait four years to reprise their London-Sydney production because a rival Godot featuring Nathan Lane and Bill Irwin was staged in NYC in 2009.  Me, I’m not sure why we have to have waiting periods for this particular play when in any given year there are several competing Vanyas or Macbeths in the vicinity. I’d welcome the opportunity to watch the Weaving/Roxburgh Godot and the McKellen Stewart Godot back to back. I think great literature can stand a lot of re-interpretation. 😉

Speaking of the McKellen/Stewart Godot, the beloved UK series Theatreland, which covered the original London production of their Godot, is now available for streaming via Acorn TV and an NTSC DVD set will soon be available. Wish the STC production could be similarly immortalized so we fans could compare, contrast and just revel. 😉 It’s not an impossible dream– STC did commission the documentary film In The Company of Actors, which followed the progress of restaging Hedda Gabler in New York in 2006. A lot of us would also gladly fork over any disposable income for cinema simulcasts of just about any STC production. Wouldn’t that help with any of their financial shortfalls? 😉