Tag Archives: Rosalie Ham

Hugo Weaving Attends The Dressmaker’s Australian Premiere in Melbourne

Hugo Weaving walks the red carpet at The Dressmaker’s Melbourne premiere last night. Photo: Zak Kaczmarek/Getty Images

After a few months of minimal Hugo Weaving news, we’re suddenly awash in new pics (and some video and interviews) again as The Dressmaker opened in Melbourne last night. I’m going to start posting images without further ado because there are sure to be more at the film’s Sydney premiere in two days.  Liam Hemsworth has grabbed the lion’s share of media attention in the Australian coverage (and his “family reunion” with brother Chris at the premiere yielded more headlines than the movie itself) but Hugo was probably happy to support the film without being the center of attention. Kate Winslet was absent, as she was promoting that other move of hers in London. 😉

Though Hugo hasn’t yet given an in-depth interview about The Dressmaker, he’s seen in three news videos about the premiere, two of which feature his comments, and he’s been quoted in text coverage as well. I’ll start with the videos then move to his excerpts from print interviews… then that new tidal wave of photos. ; There will also be more Melbourne premiere pics in days to come, but those need a bit of fixing up before they can be shared.

Screen Australia lavishly covered the premiere, and gave Hugo the most screentime of the red-carpet videos.

via Screen Australia/The Screen Blog

Hugo Weaving also comments in The West Australian’s video coverage

…And he’s seen but not heard from in Yahoo7‘s red carpet footage

(Note: Second two videos embedded directly in the LJ version of this post.)

Hugo is quoted briefly in The Screen Blog, The Age and The Daily Mail:

“[The Dressmaker is]  a radically different piece of cinema…In the way that something like Inglourious Basterds is a hybird of styles and works, I think this is a similar sort of hybrid style. It’s a western… it’s Sergio Leone, it’s got a dark underbelly to it, it’s a serious revenge film, but it’s quite exuberant, very stylish (and) visually bold. [I chose to take the role primarily because director] Joss was responsible for the first film I really wanted to do. I was like four years out of drama school and I’d read a lot of rubbish really and Proof was a great script. It was Joss’ first film and she really gave me the opportunity to do something I was really proud of.” — The Screen Blog

“It’s fabulously bold. A very Australian-style Western with a dark, revenge tone to it. It’s an unusual hybrid film that will please a lot of people. It’s pretty cool.” [For some reason, they also asked him about Cate Blanchett’s moving plans:] “‘They’ve had many different plans. Every five minutes a different plan – to go to England, Scotland, the States, New Zealand, Vanuatu (they’ve got a place in Vanuatu)…But I don’t actually know what they’re settling on at this stage.”– The Age

“It’s a stylistically complex piece, so we were required at one point to be quite naturalistic and the next point be quite exuberant…There’s quite a few grotesque characters. They still need to in some way be human. The biggest challenge for all of us was to feel like we were all in the same film.”– The Daily Mail.

Melbourne Premiere Photos:

Note: High-res versions of several photos are also available, and I’ll include links to those next to the more-manageable blog versions. WordPress readers should right click and open images in a new tab for full-sized versions of photos in the blog.

Hugo, Sarah Snook and Liam Hemsworth. Photo: Zak Zak Kaczmarek/Getty Images (plus next six)

Hugo, Sarah Snook. Liam Hemsworth, producer Sue Maslin and director Jocelyn Moorhouse

…plus author Rosalie Ham to the far right

(High res version here)

(High res version here)

Hugo Weaving, Sarah Snook and Liam Hemsworth. This and next three photos: Universal Pictures Australia via Twitter

“The stars are arriving for the #TheDressmakerPremiere in Melbourne! Here is the lovely Hemsworth family and Hugo Weaving…” Sydney Film Blogger/Instagram

“”Sometimes cool people drop by my work movie_cameradizzy” Kathleen Ashby/Instagram

“And #hugoweaving #crown #melbourne #australia” Jared Hunter Mason/Instagram

“”The man is brilliance #thedressmaker #hugoweaving” Donna Demaio via Twitter/Instagram

This plus next two photos: Mirre Jennings via Hush Hush Biz (their coverage here)

“So much all the hangover after the @DressmakerMovie premiere. I regret nothing. See the film. SUPPORT OUR INDUSTRY! ” Eleanor Howlett via Twitter

“Meeting the cast and director #australianpremiere #thedressmaker #australianpremierethedressmaker” Sue Murphy/Twitter

“#TheDressmaker stars Hugo Weaving, Sarah Snook and @LiamHemsworth sparkling on the red carpet. #tvweekmag” TV Week via Twitter

“”Agent Smith ..wherever I see him I think ‘hello Mr Anderson’. #thematrix #hugoweaving #thedressmakerpremiere” Sham1000 via Instagram

“#TheDressmaker stars strike a pose at the Oz #premiere with director Jocelyn Moorhouse & producer Sue Maslin” Screen Australia via Twitter

“@LiamHemsworth #HugoWeaving #SarahSnook having a good time on the #DressmakerPremiere Red Carpet @y7entertainment ” Sarah Marie Duffy via Twitter

“Such laughs #friends #family #laughs #liamhemsworth #hugoweaving #dressmaker” Montiga/Instagram

“Stella Cast Director and Producers acknowledge the importance of @FilmVictoria in backing #thedressmaker #springst” Martin Foley via Twitter

“Live from the red carpet, attended by Hugo Weaving, Liam Hemsworth and Sarah Snook, for the Melbourne premiere of The Dressmaker.” L’Ofiicial Australia Facebook (plus next photo)

“All the stars at #TheDressmaker Premiere. Hugo Weaving, Sarah Snook and @LiamHemsworth. #SoSydney #KIIS1065” KIIS 1065 via Twitter

Photo (plus next one) David Fanner/Screen Australia

“#photographing the #redcarpet #mediawall #redcarpetarrivals for #thedressmaker #filmpremiere in Melbourne” Brett Robson/Twitter

“My #photograph of #hugoweaving from … #Melbourne #filmpremiere of #thedressmaker ” Brett Robson/Twitter/Instagram

Photo: plus next 8): Brett Robson/Splash News

Hugo giving red carpet interviews  Photo: (plus next 12) Splash News

“What…. MORE!?” 😉

“That’s it! I’m outta here!” 😉

Photo: The Age

As I mentioned, there are still more photos that will be shared as soon as I can prep them, and I’ll be back soon with coverage of The Dressmaker’s Sydney premiere.

Also: A brief item in The Sydney Morning Herald covered Hugo’s casting in Jasper Jones. Oddly, Hugo hasn’t discussed the project yet in these interviews, though a castmate mentioned it.

Hugo Weaving Cast In Jasper Jones; The Dressmaker Approaches Australian Premiere; Autism PSA

First off, I know I’ve been negligent about updating lately and am very sorry for that. Though Hugo has mostly been on a break (and did not attend The Dressmaker’s world premiere in Toronto), there have still been several notable public appearances, including a collaboration with Griffin Film School on an autism awareness public service announcement (which has yet to be released), and an appearance introducing his friend Jenny Morris’s recent profile on Australian Story. He’s also been spotted at various Sydney events, and images from CinefestOZ continue to trickle in. I’ll try to share as much of that as possible

Jasper Jones

But first, an exciting bit of casting news. Around a week ago, the Manjimup Bridgetown Times announced that Hugo Weaving had finally selected his next film project, and had been cast alongside Toni Collette in the film Jasper Jones, based o the popular Australian “coming-of-age mystery novel” by Craig Silvey. While Porchlight Films confirmed Collette’s casting, I couldn’t find any confirmation about Hugo’s casting for several days, though the news was completely plausible. (In addition to being an independent Australian film with a talented cast and strong social message, the film is produced by David Jowsey, who also produced Ivan Sen’s Mystery Road. Porchlight Films previously produced one of Hugo’s favorites of his own films, Little Fish. So I was very optimistic, but decided to await official confirmation. This arrived yesterday via a press release from Porchlight, which announced Hugo would be playing “Mad Jack Lionel, the town recluse with a mysterious past”. Already cast, in addition to Collette, are Susan Prior (who costarred with Hugo in STC’s Riflemind in 2007), Levi Miller as the lead character Charlie Bucktin, Aaron McGrath as the title charcter, Matt Nable, Dan Wyllie, Myles Pollard and Angourie Rice.  The film will be directed by Rachel Perkins (Hugo’s third collaboration in a row with a female director) and will commence filming in Pemberton, in the south west of West Australia on 26 October, right after Hugo puts in time promoting The Dressmaker. You can read additional reports about the film (written both prior to and after Hugo joined the cast) at FilmInk, SBS, ABC.net, Buzzfeed, and author Silvey’s Facebook page. (He seemed quite pleased at the casting news.) 😉 Fortunately the novel is widely available outside of Australia, for fans too curious to wait. Reviewers have compared it to To Kill A Mockingbird.

Hugo Introduces Jenny Morris on Australian Story

Longtime Hugo fans will recall that Hugo had a hilarious cameo (alongside Bryan Brown and other Australian actors) in singer Jenny Morris’s 2002 video for “Downtime”, and that Morris leads fundraising efforts for the charity group Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy’s annual Art of Music auction, which raises funds for music therapy by auctioning off Australian-themed artworks commissioned for the event. (Hugo is a frequent guest at Art of Music and usually makes a purchase.) Morris was also a singer for the legendary 80s band INXS before embarking on a successful solo career. But the documentary series Australian Story reveals that she’s recently suffered a debilitating medical setback which threatened to end her music career and led her to find fulfillment in other areas of the industry. Hugo Weaving appears at the beginning to introduce the segment, but he’d be the first to tell you to watch the entire episode streaming on The Australian Story’s website, and not just take his brief intro out of context. 😉 I will attempt an embed, but in the event this fails, just follow the links to the external site. Thankfully there ae no international content viewing restrictions this time. The site also includes a full transcript of the program. You can read more about Morris and her condition here, and more about Art of Music here.

[Sorry, no embeds allowed. But do watch it. ]

Here are a few of my screencaps of Hugo:

Hugo Weaving at this year’s Art of Music auction, 16 July. Photo: Art of Music 2015 Flickr gallery

Griffith Film School Autism Awareness PSA

Though the PSA itself hasn’t yet been broadcast or posted online, several photos of Hugo working with Griffith Film School students on the project have been posted online by participants; you can read the full story of the collaboration at Griffith University’s website. According to student/director Cameron March, “My role was to direct Hugo in an awareness video for Autism QLD. When Richard approached me to direct the piece I felt a great deal of responsibility and honour. The opportunity to work with an internationally renowned – yet still humble – actor was an unbelievable experience… To direct a man who has been directed by the likes of Peter Jackson (LOTR), George Miller (Mad Max) and Michael Bay (Transformers) left me feeling very overwhelmed. Despite this, the shoot was a breeze due to Hugo’s kindness and professionalism. We also had the pleasure of working with Hugo’s nephew Ky Greenwood, who did an unbelievable job in assisting us to tell his story… The film we shot is comprised of both live action and animation elements. We are all extremely excited to give back to a great cause like autism awareness in the form of this video and hope Hugo’s participation will boost awareness for Autism Spectrum Disorder. The crew was extremely professional and proficient throughout the shoot, which made my job as the director that much easier. The overall experience was incredible and couldn’t have been possible without LiveLab and Griffith Film School.”

Hugo Weaving poses with Griffith University Film School students amid a collaboration on an Autism Awareness film. Photo: Nicholas Billot, Griffith University

Hugo Weaving poses with Griffith University Film School students amid a collaboration on an Autism Awareness film. Photo: Nicholas Billot, Griffith University

Photo: Callum Hartgen via Instagram “”Had the pleasure of working w/ this bloke today on a video for a good cause.  #hugoweaving”

Photo: Genny Kertesz via Instagram “Got to meet the amazing Hugo Weaving today & hear him talk about acting, filmmaking [etc] :)”

The Dressmaker Approaches Australian Premiere

Though Hugo Weaving elected not to travel to Toronto for The Dressmaker’s TIFF premiere (which turned out to be a wise move, given its poorly-handled red-carpet premiere and somewhat snide reception), he will definitely be on hand for the film’s Australian premieres in Sydney (Oct 20) and Melbourne (Oct 18) next week. He hasn’t yet given any press interviews in support of the film, but nearly everyone else connected to the project has. The film had mixed reviews at TIFF, but has received almost unanimous praise from additional screening events and other previews, with most non-professional audience members giving a very positive response, especially in Australia. I’ll post links to the most positive critical and blogger reviews as well; some critics felt the film was tonally uneven and structurally messy, though they’ve been generally positive about the acting. Some also got hung up on the age difference between Winslet’s character and Hemsworth’s. Most casual reviewers on social media have been kinder.

Promotional graphic of Hugo Weaving s Segeant Farrat (via The Dressmaker Facebook, Universal Pictures Australia via Twitter)

You can read interviews with:

Director Jocelyn Moorhouse at: The Saturday Paper, The Australian, The Province, The Hollywood Reporter (also: Kate Winslet & Liam Hemsworth)

Kate Winslet at: Click The City, Vulture, The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair (video), USA Today, The Daily Mail, NOW Magazine

Liam Hemsworth at: Sunrise on 7 (video of TV interview), Salon (plus Kate Winslet)

Judy Davis at: The AustralianTimes

Sarah Snook at: The Herald Sun, Vanity Fair

Author Rosalie Ham at: The Hepburn Advocate, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Weekly Review, The Herald Sun, MRCC Library (audio interview)

Colorist Trish Cahill at: Inside Film

You can read positive-leaning reviews (or mixed ones with positive comments about the actors) at InDaily, Screen Daily, Hot On The Street, Toronto Verve, ebuzzword, SBS Movies, Express Tribune, The Film Experience, IndieWire, Heartless Girl, Variety.

Hugo Weaving and director Jocelyn Moorhouse at a Sydney preview screening 13 October. Photo: Clare Wimble, via Twitter

According to The Age (in print edition) Hugo Weaving and Judy Davis may be strong contenders in the supporting categories for this year’s AACTA Awards.

CinefestOZ Photos And Other Candids

Here are some fan photos of Hugo take at CinefestOZ in August which have been posted online since my last entry:

“@cinefestoz 2015 honors Australian favorite #HugoWeaving with the Screen Legend Award, to the delight of WA audiences” Cinesurfer via Twitter

“When you meet #HugoWeaving at #Cinefestoz #winningatlife #fanboy #film” Cameron Whiteford via Instagram

Some fan photos of where Hugo actually was on the night of The Dressmaker’s TIFF premiere:

“I think this guy’s following me from #brokenhill to Sydney #hugoweaving #ultimolunch #priscillaqueenofthedesert” Sarah McConnell via Twitter

And here’s a candid of Hugo with Macbeth costar Paula Arundell at the Sydney premiere of Triptych on 4 October.

Article: The Sun Herald

Next update should be much more timely, with the two upcoming Dressmaker premieres Hugo is scheduled to attend; ideally he’ll sit for some interviews as well. Apoogies again for not updating sooner; in addition to three jobs and extra family commitments recently, I’ve been blinded by a new fandom which eats up a lot of my time, but which I’m not quite ready to go public with. Another character actor crush, though not in Hugo’s league. 😉

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.

New Hugo Weaving Interview, Endgame Previews, More Pics From Sundance, The Key Man on DVD

Hugo Weaving and the cast of Sydney Theatre Co’s Endgame are currently deep into rehearsals, with a scheduled first performance of the production March 31. (Official “Opening Night”, which will be when most reviewers start seeing the play, is 8 April; my experience is that the best time to catch a play with a run of a month ore more is either during previews or the final week. The actors are at their sharpest, either fresh out of rehearsals or getting that second wind that comes when the run is winding down. I’ve never seen a major mistake during previews from an actor of Hugo’s caliber (or, frankly, any actor at all in a major stage production. Occasionally the staging is still being tweaked, but, especially in the case of Beckett, the settings aren’t the reason you’re seeing the play.) 😉 Obviously mistakes or unforeseen incidents can happen at any time in a play’s run– I remember a major prop failure with one of Cate Blanchett’s guns during the NY run of Hedda Gabler, but she’s such a pro only people who’d seen earlier performances probably knew anything was amiss. And no, fortunately it wasn’t during the final scene. Just wanted to make the point that previews are a unsung bargain and often some of the best performances.   AND you can form your own opinion without being swayed by the critics’ takes that come later. 😉

Sorry if I’m too chatty. I should probably get straight to the news. Limelight have more than delivered with their new Hugo Weaving interview on STC’s Endgame and Hugo’s love of Samuel Beckett in general. The interview is expansive and refreshingly on-topic, allowing Hugo time to discuss his interests and goals in theatrical acting (and, now, directing) with a depth most entertainment press features  can’t achieve. There are also some lovely promo photos by James Green and photos from the 2013 production of Waiting For Godot by Lisa Tomasetti. The text and intriguing questions are by Clive Paget. Alas, there’s no online version available (at least not yet– I’ll post links if that changes) so here are the magazine scans. Limelight also mentioned Hugo flatteringly in this month’s Editor’s Letter and previewed the April issue in a brief video.  You can buy print or digital copies of the April issue here.

Interesting to hear Hugo bring up Desert Island Discs again… the program was also referenced in 2003 promotion for Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing (at STC) because it was a plot point in that play. Gotta say I find it fascinating and wonderfully counter-intuitive that Hugo would list Beckett as his Desert Island reading choice… most people opt for nostalgia or escapism of some sort. Of course, others (myself included) would find a desert island (or even a resort island) a somewhat hellish experience, so Beckett would be oddly comforting. 😉 I think the older one gets, the more Beckett becomes comedy rather than horror or tragedy, and the more human, relatable aspects shine through. Certainly I’d bring Beckett before Samuel Pepys… Pepys is interesting from a historical perspective but didn’t like Shakespeare, so there was clearly something wrong with him. 😉 *


The Key Man Finally Released On DVD

My review of The Key Man film and DVD (contains minor spoilers)

The Key Man, jokingly referred to by some longterm fans as Hugo’s “lost film”, has finally been released on North American DVD by Screen Media. The release is disappointingly stripped down, with no bonus features, deleted scenes or even subtitles, not even captions for the hearing impaired. The film is only about 80 minutes long and seems oddly incomplete (or poorly-edited), almost like someone took a hatchet to an intriguing 12-part series and cobbled together only the minimal part necessary to understand the plot. Well, sort of. As a result, the characters seem underdeveloped and there are several transitions that seem to come out of nowhere out of plot convenience, or possibly because most of the character moments that didn’t directly impact the plot were sheared away in post.

Hugo Weaving and Jack Davenport in the film’s first scene. All images: My screencaps from the first 20 minutes of the DVD

I’m going to assume anyone delving this deep into the three leads’ resumes already knows the basic plot: that the film is about a luckless insurance salesman named Bobby Scheinman (Jack Davenport) who’s lured into an insurance scam by an aging gangster (Brian Cox’s Irving) and a shady business heir with a sideline in acting (Hugo Weaving’s Vincent.) Bobby’s ostensible motive is to buy a house for his wife (Judy Greer) and young children, but his growing fascination with these criminal criminals and their opulent lifestyle causes him to ignore what should be obvious warnings that he’s putting himself and his family at great risk, and might become complicit in murder. I see I’ve gone out of my way to avoid certain spoiler content… I do hope to talk with other fans about this without needing to be so elliptical in the future, but I only received my DVD, and know others are still waiting, and I won’t play the spoiler-monkey. For those who like to know the absolute bare minimum about any film (and find even trailers spoilery)… you should wait until you see the film to read the rest of this. 😉

Brian Cox and Hugo Weaving in The Key Man

I’m giving a lot of benefit of doubt on the point of editing (ie missing scenes) because there’s a montage near the end that features a lot of footage that doesn’t appear anywhere else in the film, including what would appear to be establishing scenes between Jack Davenport and Hugo Weaving’s characters. If they existed, such scenes could give both characters– particularly Davenport’s protagonist, needed depth and complexity. As things are, Bobby seems like a more mannered, suburban variant on James Brolin’s character in No Country for old Men, ie a greed-driven empty vessel who puts others in dangers despite multiple warnings. The film’s unexpected post-script (which I won’t disclose) seems to belie this, suggesting there was a lot more going on in Bobby’s head, but this conflicted motivation should have bee woven throughout the plot. I have to believe a production this bare-bones must have started with a unique original script to draw actors of Weaving, Cox and davenport’s caliber. But it seems like the distributors didn’t know what to make of the finished film, and thus chopped it down to a rote thriller that follows a lot of the now-stale conventions of 70s film rather than jauntily reinventing them. Hugo and Brian Cox have some magnificent acting moments, but key connective tissue about their characters seems missing, which makes these great scenes seem to come out of nowhere. Vincent’s acting, for example, is barely mentioned before it suddenly becomes all-important, and Irving (Cox) goes from a murderous thug to a soulful, regretful pacifist with almost no transition.

The film is full of often-pretentious nods to 70s techniques like split-screen; often the directorial tricks seem more like showing off than devices in service of the plot and characters. Some scenes– mostly exteriors– appear grainy. At first I thought this was part of the film’s retro theme (a la Grindhouse), but other scenes are perfectly crisp, so I’m wondering if the grain is a side-effect of the low budget. The film is ostensibly set in the suburbs of Boston, but was obviously (to a New England resident) shot nowhere near there. I suppose I should be grateful there are clumsy Pick-up Shots Of Boston Landmarks crammed between scenes to distract us that the film was in fact shot in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The central scam of the film– that Vincent is buying a fraudulent insurance policy to help finance buying interest in the Boston Red Sox– would only seem plausible to someone who DIDN’T live in Boston in the 1970s… basically the proposal is akin to that of buying partial interest in the Brooklyn Bridge for pennies on the dollar. Bobby should instantly see such a ruse for what it is– or at least do some basic research. 😉 If more character-establishing scenes existed to explain why he doesn’t, and why he’s so easily drawn into Vincent’s scheme despite multiple warnings, the film might work. As it is, it seems like Bobby is naive in addition to henpecked into action to please his wife (Judy Greer) with a new house. Since Greer plays her underwritten character with her usual degree of understatement and charm (she has an amazing scene with Hugo late in the game), the latter motive doesn’t really wash.

I mentioned 70s tropes being reinforced rather than challenged or reinvented– the depiction of gay and female characters is another unfortunate side effect of possible editing or writing. The only two female characters– played by Greer and Carol Kane, who’s wasted in two minimal appearances as Bobby’s secretary– fall into types due to a lack of screentime. An early montage suggests the spark is going out of Bobby’s marriage, but this isn’t really explained or developed so much as played for uncomfortable laughter (a Johnny Carson clip from at least a decade after the film’s 1975 setting is thrown in as a punchline). And Greer’s portrayal is almost entirely sympathetic. It’s also suggested Bobby is falling behind in sales at work, which Vincent and Irving think will make him easy pickings for their scam. But this is also underwritten, particular when, late in the film, a colleague of Bobby’s reveals Vincent has unsuccessfully tried to lure others at the same insurance office. Wouldn’t that have become general knowledge at the firm, or at least gossip?

A major gay relationship between two characters is a major revelation, and seems played for shock value or prurient titillation, the way gay or cross-dressing characters (who were invariably villains) usually were in actual 70s film. One participant is the affair is barely sketched out, though he seems critically important to the proceedings and the insurance scam, so the audience is given nothing to work with regarding how to feel about him. The other participant– a main character– is depicted as flamboyant and even quasi-rapey at one point, but is also treated so fetishistically by the camera that one wonders if the creative team actually meant for the character to come across negatively. Again, here’s an area where additional scenes or greater nuance in existing scenes might add more complexity. The film’s ending, which ventures in a direction no rote 70s thriller would, suggests there was supposed to be more going on, and that there was a nascent love triangle somewhere in the film’s machinations. Maybe I’m reading too much into things. (I don’t usually try to add slashy plot elements where none were intended– or straight romantic elements for that matter. I don’t watch films primarily for the shipping potential.)

I’m going on so long because the film does have some great moments and intriguing subtexts amid the choppy editing and rote plot elements. So I have to think there was initially more to this. As it is, fans of Hugo Weaving and Brian Cox should see the film regardless, as these actors have some transcendent moments that hint these characters could each be spun into a very good series with the right creative team. (I can’t help but think of what Vince Gilligan has done with Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, both stocked with miscreant characters given unexpected depth and relatability through the right alchemical mixture of acting, script and direction.) The Key Man’s writer/director, Peter Himmelstein, had never made a feature before this one. Reading Hugo’s thoughts on what an experienced actor can add to a newbie director’s work, I’d love to hear what he (or Brian Cox) initially saw in the script and what they might have though should be added. (Or, indeed, if some stuff was subtracted.) Hugo’s tendency to be both generous and unabashedly honest would make hearing his thoughts on this film very interesting.

A few other random thoughts: I probably will watch this again to make sure I’m being fair to it. I’ve actually seen The Tender Hook three times (in total, Hugo’s scenes more often) and this is definitely a better period caper than that dreary pile of genre cliches. Hugo’s Vincent could be said to be a weird transitional character between Hook’s McHeath and The Mule’s Croft, though each character has some unique traits. (I’m pretty sure Croft would find Vincent and McHeath’s penchant for Shakespeare-quoting and other refinements a bit dodgy. Well, he’d probably put things in less politically correct terms.) 😉 The Mule movie is leagues above either The Key Man OR The Tender Hook, and shows how challenging it is to get period genre films right. It’s probably not right to call The Key Man a “caper”, really, as it’s almost entirely devoid of humor. If anything, it could use a bit of leavening, and a less draggy “lite-jazz” soundtrack. But the camera loves Hugo and he steals every scene he’s in effortlessly. None of he actors disappoints, though Davenport is stuck with a purely reactive character, and for someone with decidedly-above-Keanu-Reeves level chops, this is frustrating. 😉

Re fan  service: Yes, there are sauna scenes for all three protagonists, though no full nudity. There’s a hint of sex treated very glancingly (no nudity), though some fans will go heavy on the pause, zoom, and rewind. I’m not spoiling any aspect of that.  Nothing makes me quite as furious as people who post such scenes (or stills from them) out of context without spoiler warnings before most fans can see the film as a whole. Since a lot of these indie fans are somewhat obscure, new fans in any given year should have the opportunity to see them without having major plot points spoiled in advance in the name of “fan service”, so such images should be posted via links with spoiler warnings. Just my opinion. Yes, I do draw a certain amount of titillation from Hugo’s sexier roles, but treating his work primarily as softcore porn is a bit disrespectful and juvenile. Hugo always emphasizes script and “character illumination” as his primary motive in choosing roles, so we should at least try to watch the films with that in mind the first time or two through. Fan service can follow for those into that, with the proper content advisories. Because, in all honesty, there’s no reason to watch The Right Hand Man more than one or two times except for the Hugo Nudity. 😉 The sauna scene featuring Hugo and Brian Cox gets a pass because it was in the trailer, though I was annoyed that some fan in Eastern Europe posted giant caps out of context years before the film was widely released. It should be noted that that scene contains no sexual activity or hint of sex between those characters. No Viggo-Mortensen-style nude knife-fights (Eastern Promises) either, alas. 😉

Odd trivia: The film’s opening credits (and a dream sequence that follows)  give away key plot points, though in a veiled manner. I’d have preferred starting from the beginning of the actual story and dispensing with the arty spoilers, which might’ve allowed time for possibly-deleted character building scenes. Also, the DVD cover art image of a bloodied, bullet-riddled car windshield and bag of  money are a completely fabricated scene that doesn’t happen anywhere in the film. 😉 And I am going to have to re-read Troilus and Cressida again after this. In some ways I can relate to Vincent’s feelings about the play, as my one experience seeing it in performance was an unfortunate experimental production. My primary memory is of one particular cast member wearing leather bondage gear spitting all over us amid his over-enunciating… 😉

A Few More Sundance Pics

Some nice images of Hugo Weaving with Joseph Fiennes, taken 24 January 2015 at Sundance during Strangerland promotion. Both photos by Jay L Clendenin/LA Times/Contour/Getty Images

The Dressmaker

Finally, novel author Rosalie Ham has shared another production diary post recounting her experiences working as an extra on the set of The Dressmaker. this time Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth and Judy Davis are casually name-dropped (I would to if I wrote a novel these actors starred in the film adaptation…) but Hugo is still referred to as “Segreant Farrat”. Could it be she doesn’t know his real name, or is just just particularly besotted with that character (or Hugo’s deptction of him)? An interesting read either way. The film opens October 1 in Australian, with international distribution to be announced. Here’s a short excerpt from Ham’s piece, and a set photo of the day described.

“Kate Winslet, dressed in startling red couture, walks across the Jung footy oval, her complexion very British in the Dungatar glare and the Australian bush green. Behind her, Judy Davis, small and magnetic, watches. Before her, Sergeant Farrat waits…     The actors and their attentive entourage return. We watch the tall, lovely, leading man (Liam Hemsworth) play skilled, choreographed footy, the stunties hovering… ”

Kate Winslet and Judy Davis filimg The Dressmaker

New Hugo Weaving & Tom Budge Interviews Promoting Endgame, Dressmaker Update

Hugo Weaving portrait by Steve Baccon, from The Australian online

Amid ongoing rehearsals for Sydney Theatre Co’s new production of Endgame, Hugo Weaving recently took time to give an interview to The Australian‘s Verity Edwards for their !0 Questions feature. The interview was published in The Weekend Australian as well as posted online. Since the online version of The Australian is very stingy about repeat page-views, I’ll post the magazine scan version, along with  both versions of Steve Baccon’s delectable new portrait.

WordPress Readers: right-click, click on “Open in a new tab” for full-sized article

From The Weekend Australian magazine, 13 March 2015

Portrait by Steve Baccon, The Weekend Australian

The first question and answer are disturbing evidence that all fans learn to need how to draw boundaries, and that harassing “celebrities” on their own time (ie when not explicitly promoting a film or other project) is despicable behavior. The fact that Hugo is so generous with fans under most circumstances just makes me angrier that people continue to think the own him. Hugo’s attempts at understanding and conciliation are lovely, but he shouldn’t have to do this. I hate to bring this up, but John Lennon was similarly loving and patient with all manner of fans importuning him for autographs, often even showing up clearly…impaired at his house (one incident was documented in the 1989 film Imagine) demanding lyric explanations.  Lennon would try to downplay expectation and respond with compassion.This level of openness led to a lovely number of student interviews and fan photos most artists would never permit, but it also eventually cost him his life. I know that’s a particularly scary example, but we all need to take this issue very seriously and respect our favorite actors and artists as human beings with rights, beginning with the right to a certain amount of privacy.

Shocking as it may seem, Hugo actually enjoys going to film festival TO ENJOY OTHER PEOPLE’S FILMS, not just play the star in service of his own projects. He willingly gave dozens of autographs at Sundance and posed for photos with fans, But he should be allowed to say ‘no’ without being treated abusively. That “fan” should’ve been ejected from the festival at the very least. This is one reason I don’t post videos made by professional autograph hawkers who ambush Hugo at the airport and other public places, and why I discourage people from buying autographs online. Number one, you can never be sure of their authenticity, number two, if they are authentic, they meant nothing to the person who obtained them except mere profit, and they might have been obtained in this sort of dodgy manner. Real fans have often told me they failed to meet Hugo or get one treasured item signed because these dealers crashed an event (or stage door) and Hugo had to take so much time signing their Agent Smith glossies that there was no time left for quieter, more authentic fans who were politely waiting their turn. So please, everyone– have boundaries. Be respectful.

Sorry ’bout the lecture– I know most of you don’t need it and wouldn’t dream of behaving that way. But with an artist as wonderfully unaffected and unjaded as Hugo, fans are at that much more risk of being part of the problem, even with the most sincere motives. I question my behavior and choices as an online fan every day.

The rest of the interview reaffirms most of what I’ve loved about Hugo and reassures me his commitment to serious, challenging roles remains firm.

Hugo’s new costar Tom Budge gave his own intriguing interview to the Sydney Theatre Co Magazine. He’s already had quite an eventful career, and describes the challenges of stepping into the role of Clov last-minute, his previous career highs, and the unique thrill of working with both Hugo and his son Harry Greenwood (in Gallipoli) in the same year. Here are a few quotes, but the full piece is very much worth a look– even has some STC Endgame rehearsal photos as an additional incentive.

Budge: [Describing Endgame] “I met with Andrew a year ago about this show. I thought the play was brilliant, I thought I could bring my own clown version to this role, as well as it just being beautiful and written incredibly well. But then the role went to Robert Menzies and I was honoured to have even been considered – it’s one of those rare moments where you go, ‘Oh, he’ll be f***ing amazing!’ And I’d actually been talking to Julie Forsythe about Endgame – she’s doing it at MTC right now, she’s in the bin right now – and so when I got the call from STC, there was no question. I had to ask my wife, but there was no second guessing. And it’s amazing to be back in Sydney. There’s so much great passion, energy and value put on theatre in this town…

There’s so many different kinds of clown in [Endgame]. Even within the one character. I’m realising that there’s no template with this. When you read it at first, you might think there is, but when you get to the specifics of it you realise it changes every 20 seconds. The play begins with something that everyone could recognise as a kind of clown routine – moving the ladder back and forth – but then it switches into (almost) naturalism, for a moment, then I’m playing straight man to Hamm’s laugh riot. I’m still getting comfortable with the changes and it as a general form feeling OK. But there was a gross shock to begin with of not having a simple, gradual through-line of a single ‘clown’.

[Interviewer] Hugo Weaving was talking the other day about how Beckett doesn’t give actors an easy motivational bridge between moments.

Budge: Exactly, as an actor your first thought is, “Why do I start talking about this? Why do i do that?” And Hugo’s right, most of the time there is no connection. But you get this creepy feeling – and this is a bit romantic and dramatic – that Beckett’s ghost is standing over you reassuring you that it is all there. Once you get it all down and you learn everything and you’ve done it a bunch of times, you’ll be able to stand back and it’ll be clear that something that happens two-thirds of the way through might not relate to what happened immediately prior but it does relate to something that happened for a second in the first third. And so you can find a complete through-line from one moment to another moment, it’s just really complicated. It feels seriously bizarre to begin with. I don’t think Beckett is messing with the actors, even if people assume that. I think it makes perfect sense, it’s just beyond my intelligence as to how he created it. It keeps you at arms length, so it never gets too bald… That’s the genius of it. You feel that there are conscious triple meanings in each line. It’s staggering… it’s been a real joy to be allowed into something like this, into a brain like Beckett’s. It’s fascinating. It’s beyond philosophy. It’s not just rumination, it’s very personal.

[Interviewer] That’s right, Beckett’s actually embodied it. It’s not the espousing of philosophy just in language, it’s making it happen through action – the people in his plays live that philosophy.

Budge: Yes! And it is so deeply personal, these things that he’s extracting from his life and putting out there. Look, you could read his biography and then say, “Hamm and Clov are Beckett and his wife.” But, in practice, it doesn’t help you, because no one can completely zoom in on and recreate the characters from someone else’s life. So, Hugo and I have to find our own version of a relationship, which takes time. I’d never met Hugo before this, and it takes time to get through all the normal personal stuff to something else…

In this case, the initial thing was easy, because I’d weirdly just worked with Hugo’s son – the amazing, lovely Harry Greenwood – last year on Gallipoli. He’s an incredible young man, divine. And having spent time with him you just make the assumption that at least one of his parents has to be amazing. An amazing, open-minded, divine individual. So the odds are pretty good and there’s a strange kind of familiarity in that small way. Given that I had about 10 hours’ notice between getting the job and the first reading, Hugo’s the perfect person to greet you in that situation. Warm and generous…

It’s interesting, we did our lines looking at each other just now, because Hugo realised that he never really gets to look at me in the show. None of them really look at each other much. So, as actors, it’s useful to play around with both to see what we’re each doing, because the voice and the face aren’t always doing the same thing… We’ve been talking about how it’s jazz. It’s loose, things can pop up from nowhere. But, like jazz, you learn the standard before you start improvising. So, we’re still finding the standard.”


The Dressmaker

Jocelyn Moorhouse’s film is still in post-production heading toward an October release in Australia. Author Rosalie Ham, who has been on hand for the film and played an extra in her own fictional town, recently posted a lovely new blog entry about a certain perk of being an extra: dancing opposite a certain Sergeant Farrat, played by Hugo Weaving in the film. (Alas, no new pics yet). Here’s an excerpt:

“Sue Maslin wasn’t in my Deportment or Ballroom dancing classes at school. I would have remembered her. But she did eat in the dining room and so she does know how to dissect and eat a banana in small half-moons, like a lady. As Sergeant Farrat does in The Dressmaker…

In dancing classes Miss Rose stressed, ‘Remain light in your partners arms, do not lean on your partner. Do not lead, allow yourself to be guided.’… These instructions were alive to me as we set off for our ‘dance’ scene in a hall in Williamstown/Dungatar. We’d received the instructional DVD and like good extras, pushed back the couch and practiced together…

In the car park we joined the other practicing extras. Angela took a firm hold of Matthew’s left hand and placed his right on her hip and said, ‘Forward, forward, back, back, side-together, slide.’… Then I was gone, led away by my old school friend, Sue. She took me to set where the actors and superstars were rehearsing and deposited me in front of Sergeant Farrat. ‘This is your dance partner.’

Sergeant Farrat was kind, but aloof, and I, terrified. The music started and he took my hand. This was my moment. I must dance without fault. Sergeant Farrat looked at me, confidence in his eyes. ‘He thinks I know what I’m doing,’ I thought. In front of us, Mr and Mrs Pratt danced like they were born to it, so I just did what they did, and, I remained light in my partner’s arms, allowed myself to be led, as did Matthew, who danced all day with Angela.”

Since Hugo isn’t mentioned by name, I am drawing certain inferences here… he’s shown certain skill as a dancer in previous film roles (and..um…charity events) 😉 so I don’t think a double or stand-in was required.  I’m really looking forward to the finished film, as the creative team have been so generous about keeping fans in the loop without giving too much away.

Hugo Weaving on The Dressmaker’s dance-hall set last December.   Photo: Heidi Dee, via Instagram

More Endgame promo material may appear at any time, so I’ll update as frequently as I can, first at witter, then here.

For one thing, there’s this tantalizing, trailer-promising tweet from Steph Zulu: