Tag Archives: Tim Winton’s The Turning

New Photos of Hugo Weaving at Sundance; HuffPost Live transcript; Plus a Romantic Gesture ;)

It’s been a slow couple of weeks for breaking news since Sundance ended. I assume Hugo Weaving has been taking a well-earned break, possibly gearing up for Endgame rehearsals at Sydney Theatre Co. (The play, which teams Hugo with Bruce Spence for his second go-round with Samuel Beckett in the past few years, begins performances March 31.) Hugo was also spotted in the audience at last night’s STC premiere of Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly Last Summer, starring his former director and costar Robyn Nevin. His son Harry Greenwood– now making waves on Australian TV in Gallipoli— was also on hand. No, no pictures as of yet: Hugo is often adept at dodging press photo ops when he’s attending plays as a viewer, but sometimes indulges us. We’ll have to wait and see.

More previously-unseen photos of Hugo from January’s Sundance press junket for Strangerland continue to surface, though, so I’ll share all I’ve found since the last entry. I’ve also given up on HuffPost Live sharing their Hugo Weaving/Joseph Fiennes interview (which was webcast live on January 24 but hasn’t been re-posted) in anything resembling a timely manner. So I’ve transcribed the whole thing and will post it here (from my audio recording) along with photos taken at the taping. HuffPost might be waiting until the film’s formal release, whenever that might be, though all of the other media outlets who taped Strangerland cast interviews shared their material the same week.

I still hope HuffPost eventually shares their footage of the interview, which would be far superior to this. But for now, I’ll do what I can. I’d share the audio too if I wasn’t afraid of lawsuit threats. I’ve long since stopped trying to guess what might or might not make content providers needlessly pissy, but it’s always a good idea to err on the side of caution. That said, this material is too good to merely live-broadcast then sit on for weeks. The actors were there expressly to promote their film, and I’ll do what I can to faciltate that, given how disrespected this film was by the largely-snide hipster press at the festival. Warning: the following does contain a few plot spoilers and overuse of the word ‘process’. 😉

Transcript: HuffPostLive interview with Hugo Weaving and Joseph Fiennes at Sundance, promoting Strangerland, 24 Jan 2015

Interviewed by Ricky Camilleri at the ChefDance & HuffPost Live Media Lounge
Interview photos: Tiffany Rose/Getty Images
RC: I’m joined by Hugo Weaving and Joseph Fiennes who star in the film Strangerland with Nicole Kidman. I saw the movie last night, I was gushing over it with you guys just a minute ago. Thank you so much for joining me. Incredible performances. Incredible performances. When you read the script, were you nervous at all? We you worried about taking on these roles?


HW: No…I don’t… I think… Whenever I read a script, I just read the script rather than think about ‘the doing’ of it. I’m just reading the script for what it is. I don’t know about you, Joe, but–

 RC: Sort of read it as a fan first, almost?


HW: Not as a ‘fan’, just to read it as a story, and to understand what it is, and just to read the minute detail within it–

RC: Right–

HW: How the humans interact. Just read it as a story. And THEN you go, ‘Well, that’s something I want to do.” And then you think–

RC: Can I do it? How could I do it?

HW: Yeah. If the offer’s there, THEN you start thinking about all those things. So the initial thing is just the story itself.

JF: Also, Kim is– our director, Kim Farrant– her process with the actors is kind of not common, it’s unusual… her dedication to the rehearsal period [the] sort of mining and sort of emotional exploration. And so, just reading the script and talking to her on the phone and gauging, ‘Ah, this is the kind of laboratory we’re going to be involved in’ was really exciting.

RC: How exactly is her process different, working with actors, considering what you’re used to, you said?


JF: She’s been an actress, so she understands that, and she… rather like Nicole and Hugo, for me… create a very, very safe and protected environment in which to explore, and to fail and to examine. And so that conversation, and the time to have that conversation– although, as you know [in] the independent world of making movies, you never have [too much] time– But you really did feel that she made every effort, so she was there weekends, days off, mornings, nights, really excavating, mining, and that’s rare.

RC: People always say that actors–FOR actors– make the best directors. Right? At the end of the day, sometimes actors have projects that they direct [which don’t come out as good, but actors on set make the best directors. Why is that? What about knowing the process of the actor really helps?

HW: Well, maybe it’s an understanding that all actors are different, as all human beings are different. So every actor’s “process” is different. Maybe just that in itself is a help for an actor/director because they understand that each individual has a very different process, a different way of approaching something, whereas… but I think there are directors who understand that very very well too, so I wouldn’t say ALL actors would make great directors. A lot of them would be awful. So I think it depends of the individual, really.


RC: We should summarize the film, give an idea as to what is about. We’re getting deep into the process here, and we’re not talking about what the movie’s about [laughs]. It’s an incredible story. You [Joseph] and Nicole Kidman play a husband and wife– kind of having trouble, kind of on the rocks– and your two children go missing, and you’re [Hugo] the cop who’s sent to investigate it. Do you guys want to open up more about some of the–


 JF: There’s a history [between my and Nicole’s characters] which brings them to a strange land, and that is that their daughter had an affair with teacher at school, so they’ve moved from one location to another.


HW: So when we first meet them, they’ve just arrived in this new town. He’s go the job as the local pharmacist, and… they’re very much [just] settling in, and unsettled by this past experience in this other town.


RC: Pharmacist is such a perfect occupation for your character–


 HW: Yeah, it is, isn’t it?


 RC: There’s something about pharmacists that I’ve always found to be, like, stiff and rigid–


HW: [Laughs]


 JF: [Laughs] There’s– yes, clinical, but there’s also– what I love is that he is the carer for the community, so he wears a public face– a mask, if you like– which is all about dedication and attention to the community. But the one place where he’s missing the contact and the care is right at the home, because he feels such a shame of what’s [happened] in the episode before. So he really becomes so involved in his work as a way of deadening having to deal with that. I don’t think he’s got the facility or the dialogue to explore that theme. I think he feels such rage and shame. That he’s caring for the community and then that community kind of lets him down, because it could be any one of those [people] that has taken his daughter. So it’s an interesting place.


RC: And we also get that great foreshadow at the top of the movie where he says, ‘I will not have my business strewn out in front of the people of this town like last time.’ And as a viewer I was like, ‘Oh, yes you will.’ [Laughs]

HW: [Laughs] Yeah!

RC: ‘This is coming!’ You [think you can] say that at the first act of the movie and NOT have that happen by the end…

JF: It’s the idea that your public persona is laid bare, that at any cost… I cannot have my private life… That devalues the strength of his position in the community.

HW: I love the way that one of the first actions we see him taking is that, at night he is actively going around houses, looking in windows, just to see if the daughter is–

RC: Because he doesn’t want to be seen to be searching during the day, which is so strange–

HW: Yeah. Everything buried and hidden, even his searching–

RC: It’s all private.

JF: I think he’s trying to keep control of the situation, because he’s lost it. It’s all about pent-up control–

RC: But it’s even weirder [that way], when he’s peeping in windows–

JF: That brings about a worse effect, yeah.

RC: And it’s like, whose window is that? He’s just going around to neighbors, peeking in?

JF: I think that’s what it is.

HW: Yeah.

JF: He’s going to, sort of, suspects that he might imagine that she might go to within the vicinity.

RC: Talk about working with Nicole Kidman. Man, she is a powerhouse, right? She’s this big brand star who takes the biggest risks I think I’ve ever seen an actress take.

HW: Yes, she does. She’s immensely brave. But the lovely thing about Nic is that she’s a very… present person. Yes, she’s a big star, but people endow her with a lot of stuff. She just wants to do her work really well, she does–

RC: And that’s what you get a sense of with her–

HW: And she’s very… Being with her on set is very easy, to breathe with her in a scene. You know? It’s very easy to just do your work well with her, and she is very brave, and I… She said a great thing, ‘Between action and cut, I will do anything.’

RC: Wow.

HW: And it’s not an uncritical mind or facility… It’s actually [that] she’s just prepared to go anywhere between action and cut. And it was a fantastic thing to say. And that’s a measure of how brave she is.

Photo: HuffPost Live/Instagram

RC: When you’re doing scenes like this with her, and she’s doing anything, she’s going to these wild, desperate places emotionally, do you feel like you, as the actor in that scene, have to be present and aware, and sensitive to how she’s going to feel about this off-camera, or do you feel that affects your process of being on camera as well? I mean, how do you work out the sensitivity of a moment with some of the stuff that she has to do in that film?
HW: Like anything in life, if someone’s– if you’re aware of the difficulties of something for them, or– I think, just being aware of other people is sort of what actors hopefully do anyway. We try and be aware of other people outside ourselves–


RC: The presence–


HW: –And then when you’re in that situation, just being aware– everyone on set, not just the other actors.


RC: We were talking a little bit about process, and I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but we were talking about a scene in the film where we see everything that you’ve [Joseph] gone through go over your face in one take. One shot. And it’s unbelievable how you were able to get there. Can you talk to me about gearing up to do that scene?

JF: We were lucky enough to shoot– in terms of that scene– chronologically, so that ended up being pretty much toward the end of schedule and so all of the release was… sort of ready to be let go. I think I played the character with, you know… for me the one word that came from this whole process was ‘shame’. And a man that has a public persona, and has to carry the shame, and… he becomes blocked. He becomes a man that is enraged. he has no… he’s impotent. He has no control. He’s impotent in many ways.

RC: Yes–

 JF: Mentally, physically, spiritually. Because he’s lost control. And I think that there is that one moment when he realizes– without giving anything away, he reads his daughter’s diary, and he realizes the extent of damage that’s probably caused by him. And it’s interesting to kind of… as parents– I’m a parent, Hugo’s a parent– that thing that your children are sponges on all levels, not just sort of intellectually, but very much emotionally. And I think there’s a huge kind of chasm, I think, at a certain age, when his daughter’s sexuality awakened, he felt threatened, and probably receded from that. So there are many components built into that moment.


RC: I loved how, in the film, you imagine when something like this happens– a child goes missing– there are all of these avenues that you could start going down as a parent, be they false, be they true. And in the end of the film, I think, for a certain type of viewer, they go, ‘That’s not wrapped up’, and it’s like, no that IS wrapped up. That’s all that it was for them. You know, that’s not a plot point. That’s just people going crazy.

HW: That is, for me, the greatest strength of the film: it IS about impotence, really, everyone’s inability to express what they feel, to find what they want, to take the right action– ’cause there’s not a lot you can actually do. So the film’s great strength is in that failure and inability of people to connect with each other, and to move forward in their lives. Because when something like the loss of a child happens, the loss is so extreme, and the not-knowing what happened is so open-ended, that you are literally incapable of doing anything. And it’s a great– I think that when the film’s at its best, it’s when that’s so palpable.

RC: Absolutely. Is there a certain irony, you think, to the story, that getting past this shame, getting past this impotence, may have [required] this tragedy? The greatest tragedy that would cause all of this other impotence for so many other families, may have been in many ways the saving grace of this relationship?

JF: Right, that’s very astute. And I love the way you’ve seen that, because I think that, at the end, it’s the beginning of possible repair, because come right– we hurtle– we’re thrown right into this disintegration of a relationship, amd marriage, and all that encompasses, and at the end, they connect. There’s a moment of touch. There’s a moment of genuine connection which has been so absent. And I think that from that moment, there’s a possibility– there’s a sort of redemptive possibility. So that’s a really big component. I think there IS an irony in that. You’re absolutely right.

RC: Yeah. Well, guys, thanks so much for being here. It’s been real pleasure talking to you.

HW, JF: Thank you.

RC: Congratulations on making such a powerful film, and premiering at Sundance.

HW: Thanks.

JF: Thanks a lot.

RC: Pleasure talking to you.

Photo: ChefDance Facebook

More Photos of Hugo Weaving at Sundance

All taken 23 January unless otherwise noted.

Photo (plus next three) Jeff Vespa, Getty Images

Photo (plus next one): Daniel Bergeron/Corbis Outline

Photo (plus next two): Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Given how stunning these are, I’m tempted to say the photographers calculatedly saved the best for last… and there’s hope more beautiful portraits may still emerge. You can learn more about Larry Busacca’s stunning portraits at PetaPixel.

We also have one rather flippant new video entry from Sundance, AJ+’s “Red Carpet Hardball”, in which various celebs at the Strangerland and other premieres are ambushed by the snarky reporter with complex hard-news questions completely out of place at such an event. I don’t think Hugo is given enough credit, frankly, as he does answer a challenging question, and unlike Chiwetel Eijiofor (who admittedly does a great job) probably hasn’t been asked this question before. I guess we should be glad Hugo wasn’t also ambushed with a “How do we fix Nigeria?” question. He hasn’t actually been to Nigeria since the year of his birth. 😉  I do think there’s a fair context for asking actors and other thoughtful celebs such questions, but a red carpet event where many reporters are clamoring for minimal face-time sure ain’t it. Call me square, but I actually wanted to hear more about THE MOVIE.  Especially given how few media outlets have deigned to shared premiere footage.

AJ+ via YouTube

Strangerland still doesn’t have a release date or any sort of official media presence, which is bizarre given that even small Australian indies like Last Ride, Mystery Road, The Dressmaker– and particularly The Mule– have been so well promoted on social media. The film’s new distributer Alchemy has a shell of a website with no real content about films as of yet, and is competing with at least half a dozen other filmmakers/distributors with very similar names. I hate to say it, but it looks like this might be Hugo’s worst-handled film in terms of marketing since The Tender Hook and the US release of Mystery Road.  I hope Alchemy proves me wrong in a decisive way soon, because I’m still very excited about this film, and still think the Sundance disapproval seemed shrill and adolescent, more undeserved media piling-on of Nicole Kidman, who deseves better.

Hugo Weaving in a brief preview scene from Strangerland (via AP News  and Cinefix)

You can read a new interview with Strangerland director Kim Farrant at IndieWire. And a balanced, positive review at The People’s Movies.

Hugo Weaving photographed by Victoria Will in vintage-style portrait for @Esquiremag. #HugoWeaving #Sundance2015 ” JohnSant87 via Twitter

And here’s my candidate for Strangest Strangerland Press Article, but it features a new photo of Hugo (with Kim Farrant, Niole Kidman and… Kim Farrant’s massage therapist brother.) 😉

The Waiheke Times, via Stuff.Co.NZ

In Other Hugo Weaving News

STC has updated their page for Endgame, adding a lot of background info on the play and its themes. No word yet on whether rehearsals have officially begun, but they probably will soon. Tickets remain available for most performances. The play runs through 9 May.

The Dressmaker is deep into post-production, and according to Deadline, some early footage of the project was shared at the just-ended 2015 Berlinale for marketing/distribution purposes. Obviously it’s too early to expect a final edit this soon. The film’s Facebook page recently noted that David Hirschfelder (who also scored Healing and Kidman’s The Railway Man) is composing the score. There will also be a movie tie-in reissue of Rosalie Ham’s source novel, welcome news for international readers who can’t locate a copy of the original printing for under $35 plus shipping from Australia. 😉

Tim Winton’s The Turning has received mostly favorable notices in kits UK release (from 6 February) includinfg reviews from The Independent, Dog and A Wolf, The List, Flickreel.com, The Irish Post and The Hollywood News. FILM3SIXTY reposted their excellent Berlinale 2014 interview with Hugo Weaving and director Davod Wenham discussing their contribution, “Commission”.

And The Mule continues to draw better reviews than either The Turning or Strangerland, ironically, the latest in Badass Digest, Technology Tell, Catch of The Day, and The South China Morning Post. And you can now buy the film’s way-cool 1980s-style soundtrack.

Finally, I’m not a big proponent of Valentine’s Day, which I consider a manufactured holiday designed primarily to sell greeting cards and chocolates and foster an atmosphere of romantic insecurity. 😉 But I realize some people may feel differently, and I loved the “unguarded moment” existential gesture of Hugo Weaving picking flowers near the Strangerland set, seen in these photos which recently surfaced courtesy INFPhoto. 😉

Long-Overdue Update, Hugo Weaving 2015 Calendar, Strangerland To Debut At Sundance 23 Jan

I know this blog is long overdue for an update… So I’ll start off with profuse apologies and hopes that everyone enjoyed their holidays, and that they’ve had good fortune thusfar in 2015. I’ve been sidelined with various illnesses (mine and my cat Carmelita, whom many of you know from my Twitter feed– she’s still being treated for lymphoma, but has successfully fought off a pair of opportunistic bugs) and seasonal maintenance as well as work commitments.

Strangerland At Sundance

Fortunately I haven’t missed a ton of new material because Hugo Weaving has also been on an extended break since The Dressmaker wrapped filming in mid-December. He hasn’t made a public appearance since, but might pop up later this week at the Sundance Film Festival if we’re lucky, as his new film Strangerland (also starring Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes) is scheduled to premiere this Friday, Jan 23 at 6.15 pm (MST, one presumes, ie 8.15pm EST, 11.15 GMT). Oddly, tickets aren’t yet available via the film’s Sundance website page, though one assumes most tickets for the premiere have already been snapped up by industry insiders. 😉 (It’s also common practice for festival ticket package-holders to have a lengthy period to buy their allotment of tickets before single per-screening tickets are made available.)

There has been no official announcement as as to whether Hugo or his costars are scheduled to attend, though this website hints they might be expected. Hugo has no announced work conflicts and is usually on hand for world premieres on independent films, but he’s also unpredictable. It’s hard to guess whether Sundance’s mix of independent film tradition and increasing celebrity/commercial focus will attract or repel him… but my guess is he’ll be there if he has no prior commitments.  Strangerland will screen a total of six times over the course of the festival, with post-premiere screenings at different venues in Park City on January 24, 25, 26, 28 and 31. (again, check Sundance’s website for specific time and ticketing info.) There is still no official trailer or teaser for the film, though the ‘unofficial’ teaser keeps popping up and as quickly being taken down; my guess is that it will be the eventual teaser, as it’s nearly perfect as-is. A longer trailer will probably follow once the film’s distribution is announced and its wide release is approaching. So far there’s no news on that front, and no official website or social media presence for the film (Facebook, Twitter, etc) though that’s sure to change. At the moment, there’ds merely a sub-page on the film’s distributor’s website, Worldview Entertainment.   The film has scored decent programming slots at one of the most prestigious early festivals of the year, so let’s hope this translates into generous worldwide distribution.

The Dressmaker

In my last entry I mentioned that Hugo’s other major film to open this year, The Dressmaker, wrapped production in early December. The film’s Facebook page noted that Jocelyn Moorhouse and editor Jill Bilcock began working on post-production about a week ago.  With an announced official release date– for Australia, at least– of 1 October 2015 it should be an eventful year of updates via the film’s website, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest pages. You can also subscribe to their occasional newsletter via the website if you haven’t already.

Then there was this fan photo posted to Instagram by a crew member shortly after production wrapped. In some ways I think this is spoiler content, and wish Sgt Farrat’s off-duty look had been kept in the bag until the film is released, but it’s an irresistible photo. Also, that particular plot “secret” was disclosed when Hugo signed on, and I can’t imagine it won’t be all over the trailers and pre-release stills, given how reluctant marketers are to leave any plot twists undisclosed in promotion. 😉

Here is me with Kate winslet and Hugo Weaving on the wrap day. Again an amazing cast, were extremely nice and talented people. #katewinslet #hugoweaving #setlife #livingthedream #lookingcreepy #namedrophooper”  Tom Hooper, via Instagram

A few fans have commented to the effect that Hugo’s costume seems a bit… er… dowdy for the former Mitzi del Bra. 😉 But this is a film set in the 1950s and Kate Winslet has been photographed in some striking outfits on set, so I’m optimistic.  Also optimistic that the high star-wattage of this cast will guarantee global distribution. Jocelyn Moorhouse is more than overdue for a comeback in cinemas.

Hugo Weaving 2015 Calendar

Yes, I know this is late… to be fair, I have posted the link several times on Twitter, and did have it up before the new year began. But I’ve been remiss not posting the pages here. Since there are no high-res stills yet available showing Hugo’s characters in either Strangerland or The Dressmaker, I elected showcase Hugo’s expansive 30+ year theatrical career in this year’s calendar. (This will a theatre-heavy year for Hugo, who will star in Endgame for the STC in March before reprising Waiting for Godot with Richard Roxburgh at London’s Barbican in June.) Here is each monthly page plus info on the productions the stills capture. I do print these out every year. I’ll post the largest-sized photos here: they’ll be under the cut at LJ and available via right-click-Open Image In A New Tab via WordPress.

With Robyn Nevin in David Williamson’s The Perfectionist at Sydney Theatre Co, 1982

With Geoffrey Rush in Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist at Belvoir Theatre, 1996

With Angie Milliken in John Webster’s The White Devil at Sydney Theatre Co, 2000

With Angie Milliken in Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing at STC, 2003

With Cate Blanchett in Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler at STC (2004) and New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music (2006)

With playwright Andrew Upton, costars Jeremy Sims and Ewen Leslie and director Philip Seymour Hoffman in Riflemind at STC, 2007

With Natasha Herbert in Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage at Melbourne Theatre Co, 2009

With Hayley McElhinney in Checkhov’s Uncle Vanya at STC (2010) Washington DC’s Kennedy Center (2011) and NYC’s Lincoln Center (2012)

With Geraldine Hakewell in Christopher Hampton’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses, at STC 2012

With Richard Roxburgh in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot at STC, 2013

As Shakespeare’s Macbeth at STC 2014

Promo artwork for STC’s Engame, to begin performances this March 31. Hugo will portray Hamm in Samuel Beckett’s play

Sorry I couldn’t finfd high-res images for some productions, but all pages print crisply to standard letter-sized paper. You can see the full set at the Hugonuts Photobucket Archive too.

Tim Winton’s The Turning To Open In UK

More than a year after its Australian theatrical release, Tim Winton’s The Turning will finally be be distributed in the UK, with a 6 February opening date. The British distributer debuted a recut trailer earlier this week emphasizing the compilation’s overarching theme. While the footage seen is similar to what was in prior trailers, this version is particularly lovely:

SodaPictures via YouTube

Yes, I do own the Aussie DVD, but I haven’t watched it yet because I cling to the masochistic hope that this film might still be PROPERLY released– ie to cinemas– in the US, though there are no plans for that as of yet. (The film does have a US distributor, Main Street Films; they have a nice page for the film with photos and descriptions of all 18 segments, but only list a tentative “coming in 2015” release date.)   More on the UK release at Film School Rejects, Digital Spy and IndieWire.

And there are many lovely high-res photos from The Turning available on producer Robert Connolly’s Flickr account, including these three of Hugo:

Hugo Weaving and Josh McConville in “Commission”, directed by David Wenham

Larger versions of these images, plus high-res pics of the directors and stills from all the the short films in The Turning, can be viewed here.

The Mule Out on Blu-Ray in US

One piece of good news for Hugo’s US fans, though… The Mule is released on Blu-Ray this week. If you ordered the bargain-priced Amazon pre-order, they should be informing you it’s en route shortly if they haven’t already. You can read detailed reviews of the US home release at WhySoBlu?, Alien Bee, Keep It Classic, and The Examiner. The Examiner also reposted their excellent Hugo Weaving interview promoting the film.

In Other Hugo Weaving News

Healing had its British TV debut on Sky Movies January 16; screenings will continue for a month or so; the film is also available for on-demand viewing to their subscribers.

STC has announced the Pre-Season Briefing dates for their full 2015 slate, including Engame on March 23. Seats are available for ticket-holders, but STC suggests you RSVP them quickly, as they’ll go fast.

Ivan Sen has announced that Aaron Pedersen will reprise his already-iconic Jay Swan character for a sequel/spin-off to Mystery Road. Unfortunately, plot developments in the original film make it unlikely we’ll see Hugo Weaving reprise his Johnno character, unless it’s a flashback/ghost-mentor thing along the lines of what Matt Frewer did on the Cinemax series The Knick. 😉 The Age has more info. The new project will find Swan taking on a new case in a different town.

And this very strange bit of Hugo Weaving Early Career Ephemera popped up on YouTube via Craig Anderson on YouTube last month. It’s Hugo’s four-minute role as a very clumsy but enthusiastc scientist studying mangrove forests. This segment was part of a one-hour 1987 film called Fish ‘N Tips, apparently a comedic take on fishing, though I couldn’t dig up much other info. The project is so obscure it’s not listed on IMDb or any film database or website covering Hugo’s career; it took me and many other long-term fans by surprise. Apparently the only home video release was an Australian VHS in the late 1980s; the film was directed by Michael Horrocks. It’s always exciting when hitherto unknown bits of Hugo’s back catalog pop up like this, but I’m afraid this is very much at the Sky Pirates end of the quality spectrum rather than, say, the Everything Goes end.  At best it’s slightly reminiscent of John Lurie’s often-hilarious parody fishing show Fishing With John from the early 1990s, though much less sophisticated. Still, Hugo wasn’t phoning anything in even then, and some fans might find the mud-striptease angle titillating. 😉

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

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

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

The Mule

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

Via eOne ANZ YouTube

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

IGN, via YouTube

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

Movieclips Trailers via YouTube

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

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

Hugo Weaving confronts Georgina Haig

Screencap of Hugo Weaving and Georgina Haig

The new poster

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

(more caps from the 1983 promo here)

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

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

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

Australian Film Institute, via YouTube

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

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

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

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

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

The Dressmaker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Other Hugo Weaving News

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

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

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

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

(more interview screencaps here)

via Axiom Films/Vimeo

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

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

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

via Danilo, selling the UK version of the calendar.

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

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

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

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

The Mule’s Trailer Finally Drops (sorry…); Hugo Weaving to Attend Promotional Screenings

Only about a month before its official wide-release in the US and Australia (mainly through home release formats… more on that shortly), we’re finally getting a look at The Mule’s official trailer. NineMSN’s Movie Fix got the “exclusive” bragging rights, though nothing is ever exclusive on the internet for more than 30 seconds or so. I’m going to try a straight embed here and hope it works, because the video won’t stream on all browsers at the site of origin…  Google Chrome and Firefox in particular have issues, though it will play via IE and RealPlayer.

I do have to say I’m relieved, and that it’s very hard not making juvenile puns involving the words “release”, “streaming” and “relief” with the content on hand… I doubt many media sites will be able to resist the obvious jokes either. Fortunately the film doesn’t look least-common-denominator at all, and the quease-making plot elements seem to be dealt with in a sly, more subtle manner than might be expected. I have no doubt the film will be more graphic in places, but I’ve always thought any film more effectively ratchets up the tension by showing less and implying more. (Nicely creepy sound effects, by the way.) One can already tell Hugo Weaving’s character will be a lot of fun to watch… I hope he isn’t the sort of cartoon-villain-who’ll-get-a-messy-and/or-humiliating-comeuppance that we’ve seen in The Tender Hook, Reckless Kelly or any of Hugo’s American films. I suspect that’s exactly what we’ll get, but one can still hope. 😉 But the film looks like it balances comedic and tense elements effectively and without being too broad. Not crazy about the cut-and-paste poster or the snarky use of Hugo in it (that’s very least-common-denominator) but marketing is often like that… even some great dramatic films have lousy posters. I’ll embed it below anyhow, so people can decide for themselves, followed by a selection of screencaps I took of Hugo’s best moments in the trailer. Already finding the balloon bit a highlight and expect Tumblr to be awash in animated GIFs of that shortly. 😉


No, this is NOT what it looks like. If  find out anyone has used these to illustrate slashfic… ;P

“I swear, all of these poo jokes are driving me to drink!”

As I mentioned earlier, The Mule’s makers and distributors have elected to focus on an immediate VOD release (including iTunes, not that that’s how I’ll be seeing it) with DVD/Blu-Ray to follow shortly thereafter. The film will likely be available for paid on-demand streaming via US cable a well. There will be cinema screenings in Sydney and Melbourne featuring Hugo Weaving with Leigh Whannell and Angus Samson (the co-writers, co-stars and in Sampson’s case co-director). Hugo has been very enthusiastic about the film (without giving away too much about it) in promoting his other work, and did a prominent photo session in a Mule t-shirt last fall. So it’ll be fun to see him participate in the promotion. No word yet on any US or other international cinema distribution… the filmmakers have been pretty blunt about not wanting to take the risk of a wide opening that loses money, which seems to be the fate of too many promising Australian films lately, even in their home country. US distributors have similarly resigned themselves to releasing most low-budget indie or foreign films direct to DVD/VOD/OnDemand. While this does make the films much more widely available than any arthouse release– and I think simultaneous releases across countries and formats is a great idea– I always want the option of seeing films in a cinema. I know not everyone would want to see someone in intestinal distress– and the attendant consequences of that distress- blown up on an IMAX screen, but this would be a great film to see in a crowded theatre, if only to hear the reactions of one’s fellow patrons. It might be a potential midnight movie option, though I sometimes get annoyed with the “stoner” reputation such films draw. (For the record, I saw 2001, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Big Lebowski and the complete oeuvre of David Lynch without needing any alcohol or other mind-altering substances, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. GOOD movies don’t need chemical assistance. Only bad ones.) 😉

Anyhow… you can read more details about The Mule’s projected distribution at Inside Film, Spotlight Report, Cinema Australia and The Sydney Morning Herald. Of course, the film’s Facebook and Twitter accounts remain your best sources. (They also have an Instagram account, which shared hilariously unrevealing images during the film’s production.) No official website yet, but they’ll probably have one up soon. I sort of like the delayed-gratification of waiting this long for the trailer, and knowing I’ll have the option of seeing the film before every single plot detail has been divulged by reviewers or online in every country that got distribution before mine did. Australians routinely complain about having to wait a month or more for prominent Hollywood films (like The Hobbit)… well, I hated waiting two years to see Last Ride and another year after THAT for it to get minuscule US distribution. Films should be available to anyone willing to pay to see them, anywhere. That’ll cut down on piracy and increase the bottom line. ideally, one should be able to see films in a cinema, but I know in this era where Marvel, Disney and supernatural tween romance films seem to have most American screens locked up, this is a tall order. [Insert shameless plug for supporting one’s local arthouse, college theater, library and whoever the hell else plays films the MallPlexes shun.] The Mule opens/begins explosive streaming (sorry again) 21 November in Australia with those special Q&A’s in Sydney and Melbourne beforehand… I’ll share specifics as soon as I know any. The Australian DVD follows in early December. The US release (probably mostly via streaming) is slated for 30 October.

You can read reviews of The Mule’s recent Fantasy Film Fest screenings (some in German) at Leinwandreporter.com, and BFI’s Festival page. The Mule screens at BFI next month, along with Tim Winton’s The Turning… though not at the same time. (Wouldn’t that be a double feature…) Tickets are still available for both films.

In Other Hugo Weaving News:

There’s an interview with Mystery Road‘s production designer Matt Putland at Junsui Films Limited. Yes, there was actually one aspect of that film’s production NOT undertaken by multihyphenate wonder Ivan Sen. 😉

Campaign Brief explores the Sydney Theatre Co’s marketing campaign and promotional brochure for their 2015 season, which will feature Hugo Weaving in Beckett’s Endgame, Roxburgh and Blanchett in Chekhov’s The Present (Platonov) and Geoffrey Rush as King Lear.  STC themselves have added a few new and vintage articles to their Endgame page.

Harry Greenwood adds another impressive credit to his resume by appearing as the Gentleman Caller in Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie at Bevoir this month. The production features Hugo Weaving’s frequent costar Pamela Rabe (Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Much Ado About Nothing, God of Carnage) as Amanda and Luke Mullins (who’s had a career-breakthrough year on Sydney stage over the past year, including in STC’s Waiting For Godot) as Tom. For more, including Rabe’s impression on meeting Williams as a young actress, go to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Things have been pretty quiet on the Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies front since the release of their promo banner earlier this month. Stephen Fry (The Master of Laketown) noted that VO work/dubbing is ongoing on Twitter last week.

Archive Additions:

I’ve added a promotional brochure for Mystery Road (front/back, centerspread) over at Flickr, and a lovely promo postcard for the Australian release of Anand Gandhi’s Ship of Theseus.

New Photobucket Hugonuts Archive Additions:

Nicholas Harding’s Drawing Godot, May 2014
The Wolfman, 2 February 2010 Moscow Premiere
The Wolfman,  9 February 2010 LA Premiere
The Mule Stills, Caps and Posters

Finally, a selection of new fan photos taken during the run of STC’s Macbeth, complete with original captions:

“#HugoWeaving ” Photo: JakeTGNTEL via Twitter, along with next photo)

“The man himself!!! Wow! #stc #macbeth #hugoweaving” Photo: Daniel Yaxley via Instagram

“I’ve never seen this girl so excited. just gave her the best bridesmaid gift ever. #hugoweaving #starstruck #speechless” Photo: mel_erin via Instagram

“nice to see u again#hugoweaving #macbeth see u next year:)if there is any possibility I will definitely go there to see u and Rox~love #waitingforgodot soooo much~”
Photo: Joyce Ruan via Instagram

“No words could describe my ecstasy right now. Thank you for the confirmation!!! See you next June! #holidaymode #HugoWeaving #Macbeth”
Photo: Our very own Sydney correspondent Yvette, via Instagram

STC Macbeth A Night With The Actors, New Reviews, New Hugo Weaving Interview Promoting Mystery Road

Macbeth: A Night With The Actors

Sydney Theatre Company held its customary post-show Q&A session with the cast of Macbeth (A Night With The Actors) following the 11 August performance; the event was also live-tweeted; unfortunately, I had a prior commitment and was unable to follow the event live, but here are STC’s tweets in chronological order. Hugo Weaving and the full cast participated, taking questions from a moderator and the audience.

“The #AudiCentreSydney team and ACS customers were delighted to attend #Macbeth, starring #HugoWeaving.#Audinightwiththeactors #Sydneytheatrecompany” Audi Centre Sydney via Instagram

As always, if I come across/am provided with a more complete transcript of the event, I’ll share that when it becomes available.

STC Macbeth: The Latest Reviews & Photos

Macbeth’s extended run ensures that new reviews continue to appear day to day as more people are able to see the production. Most continue to be very positive about Hugo Weaving’s lead performance, and the audacity of Kip Williams’ inverted staging. The “uncomfortable seats” remain the least popular element; Those who take issue with the staging reversal are all over the place as to why they had issues, with some wishing more of the drama unfolded among the seats while some finding that aspect compromised.  Audiences are divided on Melita Jurisic’s angst-ridden Lady Macbeth, the different acting styles of some cast members (though all have a strong number of champions as well) and the “slow”, sedentary first act. I understand the reason for the latter in theory, as this production is as much about a group of actors being overtaken by the play as it is about the infamous characters. I’d have to actually see the production to gauge how effectively the gambit played out, though I admire most of what I’ve heard conceptually and have full confidence in Hugo’s abilities.

And this is where I’m going to once again beg the STC to reconsider filming and/or simulcasting their productions. They continue to somewhat blithely stonewall and condescend on this issue, giving the usual excuses that theatre is meant to be ephemeral and that film and theatre are inherently different media. While I’m not disputing either. neither holds water as an excuse. No one is asking for full-scale films requiring new scripts, sets and production design; we just want you to FILM THE PLAYS as staged, either for simulcast to cinemas (a la the UK’s National Theatre or New York’s Metropolitan Opera) or VOD paid streaming. No, this wouldn’t be as ecstatic as seeing the play in person, and couldn’t fully capture the essence of that experience. But it’s the only option for the vast majority of global audiences eager to see these plays, and can’t afford to fly to Sydney to see a play.

I am grateful that the STC tours some productions (including The Maids, starring Cate Blanchett and Isabelle Huppert, which I’ll be seeing next week.) But they can’t tour every production, and certainly can’t tour any production worldwide: these are popular actors with many different demands on their time. Even fans within reasonable distance of some cities STC tours to can’t afford tickets that cost up to $250 (what I paid for mid-orchestra seats at The Maids– bought directly from Lincoln Center, by the way, not a scalper or ticket agency). Yes, there are often reduced-rate/student tickets or other last-minute bargain offers, but these are quickly snapped up and often require the buyer to be physically present at the box office first thing in the morning (which in a city like New York incurs a hotel or parking expense before you’e even gotten started) or aren’t nearly plentiful enough to meet demand. I’ve always thought it would be fun to see Shakespeare in Central Park, and the tickets are nominally “free”– but despite more entries in the online ticket lottery, I’ve yet to win. I know people trying to buy Suncorp Twenties tickets to Macbeth probably face similar odds.

I’m increasingly frustrated that I’ll have to miss what are almost certainly the most interesting, complex performances given by my favorite actor in recent years because I’m on the wrong continent and filming/simulcast options aren’t being taken seriously. Maybe there are legitimate cost-related reasons that aren’t being explained adequately, but every time I ask– or another person asks– anyone from STC about this issue, we’re given either no reason or flimsy, pretentious excuses about ephemerality of media by individuals who get to spend weeks or months involved in these productions and see them grow and evolve night after night (which is much less “ephemeral”). During an otherwise-fascinating pre-show discussion for The Maids at Lincoln Center, Benedict Andrews deflected a question about filming such an important production by saying he “preferred it as a play”.  Theatre has an elitist, difficult and remote reputation, and non-answers like these just increase that misperception by denying so many fans access. I will always see STC productions that come to New York or other US cities. But they need to meet me and thousands of others halfway when they can’t tour. I’ve heard that The Maids is so intricately constructed and thematically complex that one should see it twice. I’d love to, but can’t afford to… and the run is sold out anyhow. 😉

Sorry to go on about that, but I was provoked. 😉 Anyhow, here are the latest Macbeth review excerpts; I highly encourage you to click on the links and visit the sites of origin for the full versions. Interspersed are fan photos from lucky Sydney theatregoers who saw the production. Thank you all for sharing!

“#Macbeth with #hugoweaving !” Sharon Cooper via Instagram

Glenn Saunders, The Spell of Waking Hours: ” Played out against the vast backdrop of the (now-empty) Sydney Theatre, Kip Williams’ production emphasises the poetry and creates many arresting images in the moody darkness. And in many ways, it is one of the most human Macbeth’s I’ve seen, both in performance and in impact…

As soon as Hugo Weaving ‘enters’ as Macbeth, his voice rich and warm, gruff yet melodious, a certain stillness washes over the audience and you know there is magic at work here, if only it would find its feet…After a half-hour or so in which much of Act One passes with barely a fluctuation in pacing, we come to Macbeth’s “Is this a dagger which I see before me,” [II.1.40], and Williams’ production comes into its own…

The power of Williams’ production lies in the fact he is not afraid to create haunting images and let the text speak for itself, and create the fullness of the picture. Notwithstanding, some moments are lost in the vastness of the Sydney Theatre…  While Williams appears to have borrowed an aesthetic from Messers Stone and Andrews at times, he instead imbues it with heart and poetry, a moving theatrical grace, and each moment exists within this production’s world with a robust theatrical imagination and simplicity of stagecraft….

Alice Babidge’s design is theatre at its simplest, most pure form, allowing the words to speak volumes, and using only the most necessary props required to tell the story. Apart form a lavish banquet feast, hers is an empty stage (recalling Peter Brook’s famous volume) where magic and poetry happens, in flashes of inspired stagecraft and inspiration…

Hugo Weaving’s Macbeth, meanwhile, carves up the stage and delivers a menacing but tender portrait of Shakespeare’s popular tyrant. While he seems on occasion to rant, his voice is so captivating and sonorous, so rich and warm that from the first “So foul and fair a day I have not seen,” [I.3.39] you are hooked, line and sinker, caught in his net, dragged down with him into the very jaws of hell itself, and what a ride it is. You cannot take your eyes off him, as he strides about the stage in his blue jeans and shirt, delivering retribution and bloody execution on all and sundry. Weaving’s Macbeth is also the most affecting Macbeth I’ve seen; you actually empathise – and sympathise – with Macbeth the man, caught in his own (waking) dream as he is. His banquet scene is harrowing, so too is his seeing the witches’ apparitions, and he howls, sniffs, gnashes his teeth, trembles and tries to hide as best he can but to no avail – the horrors he has committed are as much in front of him as they are inside his head, and they weigh as heavily on us as they do him. By the time he fights Macduff at the climax, swinging his great broadsword around in the flashes of the strobe, we – like him – are exhausted, have been through the wringer with him; unlike Macbeth, though we may have been to hell, we are allowed to come back from its depths and leave the theatre at the end…

Kip Williams’ Macbeth is “bloody, bold and resolute,” [IV.1.85], and seeks the poetry in the darkness of Shakespeare’s equivocating tragedy. Although it takes a while to find its stride, once there it rages downwards, helter-skelter, on its blistering spiral trajectory, tearing at our imaginations, drawing us into his nightmarish world…”

“Saw Hugo Weaving in @SydneyTheatreCo Macbeth last night. What an actor! A corker of a performance. ” Catherine Henderson via Twitter

Jane, SYOP: “This is one of those evolving shows that the further into its season you see it the more fortunate you will probably be because by all accounts, the show I saw last week (and yes, it still feels like I’m sitting in a very crowded economy class flight) is not the show people saw when it opened… There’s something to be said for director Kip Williams if he is taking feedback on board and constantly tweaking this show. It tells me that he is not precious about criticism and is open to the possibilities of how this show might theatrically be stronger and better…

The emptiness and stillness of the first Act was replaced by the spectacle and flourish of action, heightened by blinding fog and voices in the murky soup of the stage. The highlight came for me when Banquo’s (Paula Arundell) ghost sits at Macbeth’s table. Weaving’s breakdown as Macbeth was raw and confronting and it was there the intimacy of the contrived staging was a piece of magic…

Williams’ seems to have stripped ‘Macbeth’ of any humour. This version is dark and ghostly. It’s like watching a dream sequence. There’s something ethereal and ephemeral about it unfolding right in front of you, moving past you and yet, you’re not there. You are the empty seats, sometimes filled with the players (who is audience and who are we in this play?) and then they and we are gone. His vision encapsulates the temporal experience of theatre and we are at the heart of it in this experiment with proxemics.”

Our Sydney Correspondent Yvette’s (@LyridsMC) post-performance photo of Hugo, with her gift of vintage wine glasses 4 August

Suzy Wrong, Suzy Goes See: “In the process of art-making, it is often the spirit of experimentation that elevates a work to heights of significance and esteem. Major theatre companies around the world with greater access to funding and other resources do not always prioritise innovation in their repertoire, often choosing instead to deliver entertainment that their patrons would readily embrace. The decision to stage a version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth with a prominent actor in the title role, exemplifies the kind of tension that exists where a show’s anticipated mass popularity and the expectations that come along with it, threatens the commitment to artistic risk, in the trepidation of alienating audiences or indeed, underestimating their ability to relate to unconventional interpretations…

Kip Williams’ direction of the piece reflects an awareness of the diversity in his audience’s tastes. Shakespeare is left untainted and the celebrity actor is given ample room to flex his dramatic muscles for his legions of fans, but the stage is thoroughly explored around those prerequisites. Williams gives the crowd what they have come for, but also offers up fresh concepts and unexpected flourishes that prevent the production from ever appearing unoriginal or unambitious. Williams’ vision does not rewrite the 400 year-old play, and neither does it add significantly to its themes and ideas, but he uses the text to explore the nature of the art form in all its physical and emotive possibilities.” (The author promises the full review ion the next issue of Auditorium magazine) .

“At @SydneyTheatreCo for The Scottish Play #Shakespeare #selfie with #HugoWeaving” Suzy Wrong via twitter/Instagram

Episystemics: “Saw Macbeth tonight with the STC, Hugo Weaving starring in the main role.  We were sat on the stage for this production, looking back out at the empty seats of the Sydney Theatre, which was quite the experience.  Very good production, I thought.  Weaving was excellent.”

“Guess who I got front row tickets to see? Dis guy. #Macbeth #HugoWeaving #theatre #SydneyTheatreCompany #bless” Georgina Holt via Twitter/Instagram

Theresa Willsteed, A Book and a Good Lie Down: “Macbeth at the Sydney Theatre Company grips you in its thrall, and doesn’t let go until the final sword falls to the ground and all the slaughter’s done. The eight actors – Paula Arundell, Kate Box, Ivan Donato, Eden Falk, John Gaden, Melita Jurisic, Robert Menzies and Hugo Weaving as Macbeth – engage at every second…

It’s theatrical and elemental. A sword drags on earth, shining rain falls, and mist, ‘fog and filthy air’ gust through. The language sears with clarity, the characters are vividly present, and our imaginations are constantly engaged. We’re around the ancient campfire, engrossed as the story unfolds. A witch zanily appears after an actor slams his face in a cake and looks up, snarling. An empty crown held up suggests all the horror of Macbeth beheaded at the play’s end…

Hugo Weaving’s Macbeth is a sturdy warrior, complex, all too human, masculine, unpredictable, unstoppable. He compulsively resists and responds to his wife’s hellish advice and kisses. He cries like a shocked child at his first awful murder. He goes on to order more killings like an old hand at terror, with women and children among the victims… He physically recoils from and fights off Banquo’s ghost (and his own guilt-madness). He’s shocked into profound paralysed silence at the news of his wife’s death. And finally, he’s a tyrant in battle, fighting for his life, a soul ripped apart by its own darkness…

Weaving takes you right into Macbeth’s disintegrating humanity. His transformation from returning hero to feared and isolated despot is riveting – you can’t look away, you’re with him until the end. His Macbeth is haunting, bursting with life even when distraught with fear. As he changes from tough soldier to thuggish murderer, he changes physically too, still battling, but more and more weighed down by his crimes…

It’s the darkness at the heart of the drama that makes it both horror story and tragedy, and keeps you thinking about this play and production for a long time after…It’s reminded me of how vital Shakespeare is to us. There’s no missing it when you see a production like this. He knows pretty much everything about us. The riches he gives are so much more than a ripping good story with a satisfying end. ”

THIS JUST IN: STC has posted a lovely compendium of supplemental Macbeth material, including student guides, trivia handbooks, new production and rehearsal photos and other resources for the curious. Here’s a small sampling of the treasure therein:

Brett Boardman’s Macbeth production photos (plus next two) via STC’s Macbeth Resources

Macbeth rehearsals Photo: Grant Sparkes-Carroll, STC Macbeth Resources

Mystery Road Interview, Reviews, UK & US Distribution

Total Film published an unusual interview with Hugo Weaving for the promotion of Mystery Road’s UK opening (29 August); it features the somewhat gimmicky conceit of using questions entirely composed of movie quotes. Fortunately Hugo’s answers are so natural and charming that the whole thing works. Here’s my scan:

So yes, Yvette, he’ll definitely be using those wine glasses. Might even dance afterward. 😉 I’d love to see a full transcript of this interview, if one exists: i have no idea if Hugo’s answers were edited from a longer interview in which the format was explained to him, or if he did so via phone or email, filling in answers at his leisure. There are some oddball segues, like discussing his childhood travels in response to the old Dirty Harry bit of sarcasm “Do you feel lucky?” 😉 There are some aspects of his life– like that– which he’s developed concise methods of talking about over the years, but he always adds something completely new and delightful without getting too confessional.

Mystery Road opens 29 August in the UK, distributed by Axiom Films. The US distributor Well Go USA has finally announced a release date for the DVD/Blu-Ray: 14 October. I’m still hoping for a theatrical release here, but have to say it doesn’t look good though VOD and cable are likely in the future. Mystery Road deserves to be seen on the largest screen possible, so if you missed its festival screenings or Australian release, try to see it at whichever friend owns the largest HDTV setup. (Or maybe your own? Lucky you. Expect calls from Hugo fan friends in your area.) 😉 Anyhow, you can see the pre-release box art at Ace Showbiz. Gotta say I much prefer the sepia tone box art to the garishly-hued US promo posters, though the laconic Aussie poster featuring Aaron Pedersen is probably still my favorite. Amazon is taking pre-orders, but as always, do shop around. No specifics on the DVD extras yet, but I’d assume they’re comparable to the Australian release.

You can read reviews of the film at The Edge UK and Total Film.

In Other Hugo News

Craig Monahan was interviewed by the New Zealand Entertainment Podcast, promoting the NZ release of Healing.

Cat fanciers in the Hugo fandom (ie probably the majority of the Hugo fandom– Hugo himself is a longtime cat owner) will want to check out Cats on Film’s post about Proof and its feline star Ugly The Cat. Some interesting trivia: in Jocelyn Moorhouse’s original screenplay for Proof, published in 1991, Ugly has a larger role, is adopted by Martin and is seen in many additional scenes at Martin’s house.

Tim Winton’s The Turning recently re-aired on ABC (Australia); Australian viewers can now watch individual segments on iView.

Two photos from Rene Nowytarger’s magnificent photo session for The Weekend Australian’s Macbeth cover story.  (Newspix) Nine more below:

…more to come! 😉
(All above photos: Renee Nowytarger/Newspix)