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Hugonuts Has Moved To A New Location [27 Apr 2014|05:14pm]

[ mood | busy ]

In case anyone didn't get the message via Twitter or the new blog, I've been forced by recent security issues to move Hugonuts to a new location. I didn't create the Hugonuts community but have been writing its posts almost exclusively since 2005. In that time I've had to cope with dozens of hacking incidents, spam posts and other security issues. Though the creator  of this community (who has since moved on from the fandom and not posted in many years) gave me editorial control, I'm still not able to make basic changes, like updating the layout or making the blog more impervious spam posts and comments. In an attempt to prevent these sort of annoyances, I've created a new community hugonuts_news and cross-posted all of this year's entries there. Access will remain the same as it has been here: all posts will be public, and non-members will be allowed to comment, so there isn't any mandatory membership. Anonymous comments will still be screened, but I always let anything germaine (Hugo-related) through; the screening is to prevent obvious advertising, spam comments and other nuisances which I've had continuing problems with here, since I couldn't alter the lax security settings.

I hope that these changes improve the Hugonuts experience and keep things on-topic, and I hope that everyone who followed Hugonuts here will make the move with me. I'm also toying with setting up an archive community for pre-2014 posts and a Wordpress version of Hugonuts to work around those times when LJ is down or inaccessible, which are all too frequent. This will be the final post at the old Hugonuts location. I thank everyone for their patience and support as I've dealt with these complications and setting up the new community. I hope this is just the start. As I find time, I'll make additional updates to the layout and add other features; right now, with free time limited, I'm focusing on breaking news like the filming of Strangerland and the Australian opening of Healing.

Again, I thank all my readers for understanding, and hope the changes will make things easier for everyone.

(The Road to Alice, 1992)

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Healing: Premiere Screenings, Interviews, Cast Portraits; Strangerland; Harding Godot Exhibit [24 Apr 2014|03:57pm]

[ mood | exhausted ]

Hugo Weaving has taken a brief break from filming Strangerland to help promote his next-released film Healing. Though he missed the World Premiere screening in Camberwell, Victoria on 23 April (Don Hany, Craig Monahan and the film's avian stars Jess the eagle and Millie the barking owl engaged the crowds) he did attend the Sydney premiere and a Q&A session last night. So far only one fan photo has emerged from that event (no video or audio as of yet) but there may be more to come. Though Hugo will definitely be doing at least some publicity for the film, Don Hany seems to be handling a lot of press publicity as well. (Which is probably fine with Hugo.) Since Hany has what is probably the breakout role in the film (no pun intended) it would make sense that he take the lead in promoting it, as there's a lot of curiosity about his character. Hany spoke to Bmag/Your Brisbane last week, and a new 13-minute audio interview (which can be streamed or downloaded) was posted by ABC Radio National after Hany appeared on their RN Drive program. Though the focus of both interviews is understandably Hany's creative process in portraying Viktor-- and working with an eagle that "made my heart race"-- he has complimentary words for his human costar as well: “It was an amazing experience to work with Hugo; he is truly an asset to the Australian film industry. He gives so much in every scene.”

L to R: Don Hany, Craig Monahan, Hugo Weaving at last night's Healing Q&A, Dendy Cinemas Sydney  Photo: Ellen Becker via Twitter/Instagram

UPDATE: Don Hany also gave interesting interviews to Sydney Morning Herald and Brisbane News. He's also steadily promoted Healing and its series f preview screenings on Facebook.

Perhaps the most exciting bit of Healing publicity to emerge this week (so far) has been a series of beautiful cast portraits by Dan Himbrechts (who's taken a lot of iconic shots of Hugo over the years, including publicity pics for The Turning.) Hugo sat with Don Hany and director Craig Monahan for nine pictures, which have originally appeared on AAP.

Don Hany, Craig Monahan and Hugo Weaving in Sydney, 24 April 2014  Photo: Dan Himbrechts/AAP (plus next eight)

More Under the CutCollapse )

A thirty-second TV spot for Healing (presumably only showing on Australian TV at this point) also debuted this week:

Pinnacle Film Sales, via YouTube

I'll update with any additional interviews, photos, etc as Healing promotion continues through the end of this month and up through the 8 May Australian wide release. Hany and Monahan are slated to attend several more promotional screenings during that period. Hugo Weaving may be less involved due to Strangerland's ongoing shoot, but is scheduled for at least one interview, probably more. Since Monahan is a favorite collaborator of his, he will likely do all he can for this film.


Speaking of Strangerland, the filming in Broken Hill hasn't been as widely covered as that in Canowindra, but a new article featuring pictures of Hugo Weaving and Nicole Kidman appeared in The Herald Sun (and related online publications) today.  Though Kidman has kept mostly to herself during the shoot, Hugo has spent time with locals near the set and his hotel:

"The actor has managed to keep a low profile in Broken Hill since arriving in the Outback town to film the $32 million production, but Weaving was spotted several times in a cafe and at The Palace Hotel, where he shared a beer with resident Jon Hanrahan.

“I had Monday off because the hotel was closed, and I sort of went up and checked the balcony, and a few of the film crew were there and Hugo was there having a drink, so I had a few drinks with them,” Mr Hanrahan said.
“A friend of mine has his own distillery so he tried some of his rum, and he met my dog and had a play with him for about an hour.”
The friendly encounter led to Mr Hanrahan’s dog Lupo securing a role in the new film.

“(The scene) is called dingo walking in bush, I think,” he said.
Barrier Daily Truth journalist Erica Visser also saw Weaving at the hotel.
A colleague and Ms Visser managed to get a quick photo with the actor.
“We waited til Hugo ate dinner then we caught him as he was trying to slick out the little back exit, and got the photo there,” she said.
The crew are in Broken Hill for about three weeks." -- Sally Brooks and Penelope Debelle, The Advertiser, via The Herald Sun

It's a bit distressing they're actually pushing the dingo allusion (A Cry in the Dark/Evil Angels)... unless Mr Hanrahan is having a bit of fun with the press.  ;)

Hugo Weaving with Emily Roberts (left) and Erica Visser (right) at Broken Hill's famed Palace Hotel   Photo: Erica Visser, via The Advertiser

If the name Palace Hotel, Broken Hill or the decor in the above photo seem strangely familiar to you, that's because Hugo's been here before. Key scenes of his 1994 classic The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert were filmed here, inspiring the critique, "Tackorama!" (The "baby bottles of booze" scene and its aftermath were filmed at The Palace, which was infamous/beloved even before the film.)

Nicholas Harding

Fans may remember artist Nicholas Harding's previous collaborations with longtime friend Hugo Weaving: in 2011, Harding painted Weaving's portrait (entitled Hugo at Home) for that year's Archibald Prizes. Last year, Harding's wonderfully expressive drawings of Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh in character as Vladimir and Estragon were included in STC's programme and promotion for their production of Waiting for Godot. (You can see the full programme here.)

Apparently Godot so inspired the artist that he's created a new, full-color series of etchings of its characters for an exhibit called Drawing Godot, to run at the Olsen Irwin Gallery in Woollahra NSW, 7-25 May. I would love to see a book or catalog of the exhibit if one is published; these are richly-observed portraits and I'd love to see more. Olsen Irwin's website posted a fascinating interview with Harding about his creative process, and how the exhibit came to be. Turns out Hugo was directly involved in commissioning the Godot sketches: "While I was artist-in-residence at the Cité des Internationales in Paris last year there was a ‘pop-up’ Globe theatre outside my studio window and I drew the actors while they waited for their cues and paced around outside. Hugo Weaving saw some of these drawings on Instagram and invited me to draw during STC’s rehearsals for ‘Waiting for Godot’ later in the year." Harding also expresses an interest in drawing future STC productions depending on his schedule and theirs... I really hope that bears fruit.

Some of Nicholas Harding's Godot sketches and etchings  Photo: OlsenIrwin.com

Harding's Hugo at Home, now in the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra  Photo: Nicholas Harding's website

Rare Hugo Audio/Narration

Throughout his career, Hugo Weaving has had a secondary career as a voiceover artist. While most fans are familiar with his voice acting gigs in films like Babe, Happy Feet, etc, he's also contributed narration to many interesting documentaries for the ABC and other organizations. While more recent documentaries like I, Spry and Darwin's Lost Paradise are available on DVD, some of Hugo's earlier narration gigs have proved harder to track down, as they were broadcast before home-release options became routine. I remember past discussions with hardcore fans about their "holy grail" Hugo wish lists; some of these projects do eventually surface if you're willing to keep digging, though. Most of the Hugo Weaving projects I haven't seen (apart from those which are by definition ephemeral, like stage performances) are these documentaries and a few short films. A few days ago a chat with another fan spurred me to run a new search for the hell of it, and I was amazed to find one of Hugo's full-length (30 minute) documentaries from ABC's Wild Relations series posted online. It's called Bobby and the Banded Stilts, and it's about the unique breeding cycle of the titular birds, and how 1995's Cyclone Bobby impacted this. It's been hiding in plain sight on Hulu for several months. Though the film will probably never attain the viewership of, say, Lord of the Rings, I do think view counts might go up if they bothered listing their narrator. Just my opinion. ;)

Hulu has cross-posted the program to Dailymotion (which I'm attempting to embed here), and TV.com; I found the feed from Hulu itself slightly glitchy (and DailyMotion most stable), but am putting all three links up, so viewers should use what works best for them. The film is basically safe for all audiences, but does contain mating behavior (some of it comically inept) and a young stilt being treated roughly by other birds.  Unfortunately there are several commercial breaks and you can't download. But, tantalizingly, Hulu does have a page for the full-four episode Wild Relations series, though only this episode is now posted. Hugo did narrate three additional segments entitled Natural Born Cheats, With Wings on Their Fingers and Mother's Little Helpers (all in 1997); perhaps comments from fans might encourage Hulu to make the rest of this series available. I found the first segment riveting above and beyond its narration, as well as a nice coincidental link to Healing. I'd also gladly pay for a DVD set of the full series if one is made available.

Unfortunately, my second rare Hugo audio find is more of a dead end, though what's available is intriguing. In around 1998 Hugo narrated a feature-length documentary called Beneath the Blue: Sydney Harbor which played festivals and had TV airings (and possibly a brief VHS/DVD release, though I've never been able to confirm that.) Learn Media of America obtained a copy and posted two minutes of footage to YouTube, but all links from this post seem to be dead or appropriated by unrelated entities. I'm not certain if LMOA has/had legal rights to share or distribute the documentary, but a lot of us would love to see or purchase it legitimately if anyone out there DOES have distribution rights or any other info.

NOTE: Will update/fine tune this entry very soon, but I'm running on fumes at this point with some work obligations remaining. But had to get these up!

UPDATES/In Other Hugo Weaving News

Peter Jackson has confirmed via Facebook that the final Hobbit film (out this December) has been renamed The Battle of Five Armies. I have to say I prefer the understated nuance (and humor) of There And Back Again... and of course its canonical importance as Tolkien's choice for Bilbo's own title for his adventure. Jackson insists the original title may be retained for a subtitle for the full Hobbit trilogy (no doubt for some future box set/DVD/Blu-Ray release) but I have to wonder if someone at Warner didn't encourage him to change the title to something more box-office friendly to goose the film's commercial chances. As if we weren't all going to see it no matter what it was called. ;)  
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Strangerland Wraps Canowindra Filming, Moves To Broken Hill; Healing Previews & Promos [15 Apr 2014|07:28pm]

[ mood | good ]

After a week of heavily-covered filming in Canowindra, Hugo Weaving's current project Strangerland (which also stars Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes) has moved to Broken Hill, which so far appears to be affording more privacy (that or the paparazzi got bored once they secured that shot of Nicole in her underwear.) ;) Hugo has posed for a few pics with journalists and locals in the new location but we're not getting the potentially spoiler-y details of what specifically is being filmed that we got during the Canowindra shoot. Which is probably a good thing. (And I will warn everyone up front that some images under the cut and descriptions of filming (here and in articles linked to) that follow might constitute spoilers, though since I have to idea how or where the scenes fit into the film as a whole, I have no idea if they're minor or major.)

You can read banket press coverage of the Canowindra shoot at Canowindra News (They have pieces on the film's rain delays, a general preview, ) There are also articles in The Central Western Daily (including this piece on how Hugo celebrated his birthday and this one about the filming of a dust storm Nicole's character gets caught in), The Daily Telegraph (two articles focusing on Kidman, the second covering the dust storm shoot), The Grenfel Record covered the positive effects on local economies, and Cowra Guardian posted a gallery of images from he set. the Illawara Mercury filed a brief report on their celebrity gossip page, and The Sydney Morning Herald did an overview featuring some images of Nicole Kidman on the set, while a second article noted Hugo Weaving and Joseph Fiennes' break to go hot-air ballooning. The Daily Mail featured a bit more context on the dust storm shoot, noting that the event in the film transpires as Kidman's character is distributing posters offering a reward for information on her missing children.

The Canowindra Phoenix had the most fun, posting a Facebook Gallery of "Selfies With The Stars Of Strangerland", including several of the images of Hugo below. They also posted a gallery of the town redressed as "Nathgari", the film's fictional setting.

L to R: Michelle Fisher, Hugo Weaving, Adelaide Duncan and Zac Drayson at the Royal Canowindra Hotel  Photo: The Canowindra Phoenix (Facebook)

Hugo Weaving with ambulance driver Gary Murphy   Photo: The Canowindra Phoenix

Ronnie Lawrence, Kerby Lawrence and Hugo on Canowindra's Main Street (Michelle Fisher photobombing in rear)  Photo: The Canowindra Phoenix

Hugo with unnamed locals at the Royal Canowindra Hotel   Photo: Canowindra Phoenix

"Hugo Weaving just taking a casual stroll past our office!"  Photo: The Canowindra Phoenix

Hugo Weaving with Michelle Fisher and Adelaide Duncan at the Royal Canowindra Hotel   Photo: The Canowindra Phoenix

Several of these images were taken on Hugo's birthday (April 4);area local Anna Ross told Central Western Daily "Apparently it was his birthday so people were buying him beers, but then he bought everyone else a beer...He’s really good, he’s just like another bloke at the pub.” Finn Store, a coffee shop, served all of the cast except Nicole Kidman, according to owner Geoff Yeo: "“Hugo’s been a regular,” he said.

Hugo with Tommy Jeffs of the Deli Lama  Photo: The Canowindra Phoenix

Photo: Splash News
Very few actual scenes from the film have appeared in the media, and most of those seem to be of dust storm sequence. Possible Spoilers:  Nicole Kidman's character apparently gets caught in a dust storm while posting photos of her missing children, as documented in The Daily Telegraph and Central West Libraries... Kidman is fully clothed in the Telegraph's report, initially leading me to think the more revealing photos were simply of Kidman cleaning off after filming. (Some of them show her waiting in and beside a car in a dressing gown). I initially declined to share such photos, as they seemed intrusive. But the appearance of Joseph Fiennes and Hugo Weaving in this image suggests it's a scene from the film, so the issue becomes one of spoilers instead. Nicole Kidman has generally been fearless about "getting dirty" (or naked) for her art, but I can't imagine why the character would be in a dust storm in her underwear. Were her clothes literally blown off? We'll have to wait and see the film. Again, apologies if this image seems intrusive or too revealing (of plot or actress). It's perhaps the most disseminated photo from the film shoot so far, and at least, unlike some YouTube videos, I'm using the most-discreet-distance version and not panning over Kidmans body. ;)

Hugo Weaving with ABC Broken Hill personalities Sarah J McConnell and Jenia Ratcliffe in Broken Hill   Photo: ABC Broken Hill, via Facebook and Twitter

"#hugoweaving#havinapout#palace"  (Specific location unspecified)  Photo: @__jacintaa via Instagram

Ten News and Prime 7 News apparently both filed TV news reports from the Canowindra set, but, frustratingly, neither has appeared online (at least in a format I can view; the Ten News item leads to a non-functioning video link.) If anyone has footage of either, or knows if they've been posted online, do let us know.

Hugo was able to take enough of a break from filming to visit frequent hangout The Local Bar in Sydney, where he proved once and for all that he and Sam Neill are not the same person, and in fact don't really look that much alike. ;)

"For God's sake , who let Hugo Weaving out again ? Was it you George ?"   Photo: Sam Neill (@TwoPaddocks) via Twitter
(Neill co-owns The Local Bar with David Wenham, rugby star George Gregan and others.)


Promotion for Hugo's next film to see theatrical release has swung into high gear, with many preview screenings (and "special screenings" after the film's 8 May Australian release) already announced. The most potentially exciting of these will take place 24 April at Dendy Cinemas Opera Quays in Sydney, as Hugo Weaving will attend with costar Don Hany and director Craig Monahan, and all three will participate in a post-screening Q & A. Tickets are still available. Other screening will be held 29 April at Palace Barracks in Brisbane (with Don Hany in attendance), Cinema Nova in Carlton 30 April (Don Hany and Craig Monahan will attend), and 8 May at Luna Leederille (featuring Craig Monahan.). The film will headline the Big Screen Film Festival in South Burnett, QLD on 16 May; the classic comedy The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert will also be featured.  And Modmove is currently (through 7 May) holding a competition awarding five pairs of tickets to see Healing.

Meanwhile here's a promotional flyer for the film:

And here's a different sort of promotional flyer:  a barking owl from Healesville sanctuary, where some sequences of Healing were filmed:

Photo: Zoos Victoria via Twitter

No word if this is the same owl who posed with Hugo, but they look similar:

Photo: Pinnacle Films

In Other Hugo Weaving News

No word yet on a release schedule for The Mule (which generated quite a buzz at last month's SXSW screenings) but you can add it to your Netflix Saved queue (in the US). I have heard this informs the site that demand is there for a given feature, making them more likely to stock/stream it when it is formally released.

Mystery Road continues to secure festival screenings in a wide variety of locations worldwide; there will be a free morning screening of the film at the Guringai Festival (in the Northern Sydney region) on 18 June. FlixChatter posted a largely positive review after it played the Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival.

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[05 Apr 2014|01:17am]

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Strangerland Begins Filming (Set Pics); Hedda Gabler Programme Scans; Happy Birthday Hugo! [03 Apr 2014|06:13pm]

[ mood | creative ]

I had a couple of little surprises I intended to post here in honor of Hugo Weaving's birthday... unfortunately, one has been slightly delayed in shipping and will have to wait for the next entry, but fortunately one did arrive in the nick of time. (It's a long-sought copy of the programme for the original 2004 Sydney production of STC's Hedda Gabler; scans will be embedded below). Fortunately there's also a big bunch of new pics from the Strangerland set to make up the difference.

Strangerland Begins Filming In Sydney

Due to the celebrity wattage of costar Nicole Kidman, Hugo's current project has attracted more attention than most of his Australian indie films tend to. This is a bit of mixed blessing, however, as most of the attention seems to be fixated on Kidman dyeing her hair brown for the role rather than on the content of the film. (A lot of celebrity-spotting sites seem laughably unaware that actors do tend to change their appearances for roles. and that this isn't motivated to win fan approval or "try out a new look". Kidman is portraying an ordinary housewife whose children have just disappeared, not walking the red carpet or primping in shoe ads.) Fortunately none of the set photos include any plot spoilers, and the actors seem to have charmed the locals with periodic posing for fan photos. (Kidman in particular has posed for several fan photos; several of these were posted in The Daily Telegraph.)

Some of these photos do fall into a grey area in that they were taken surreptitiously, and without explicit permission. It's hard to tell if Hugo is glating disapprovingly in some of these, or was simply caught in mid-speech to someone off camera. Most of the photos of Hugo do seem to have been taken in quick succession. I always feel conflicted about sharing such photos, so I'll again note my apologies if anyone finds them inappropriate. I hope that once the novelty of having famous actors in the area wears off, people will only take pictures with permission.   The best of the Hugo photos was taken by a fan rather than a paparazzo. I'll share that one above the cut, the rest below.

Photo: Jessicalea17 via Instagram

Just Jared PicsCollapse )

You can read more about the start of Strangerland filming at FilmInk, The Daily Telegraph, Cowra Guardian, (There's a second article from this paper here, about local extras... and a third here), Studio System News, WA Today, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, The Sydney Morning Herald, Yahoo Movies, Radio Times, The Australian, ABC and SBS. Most of these reports simply repeat a press release from the production company (Transmission Films) and none contain spoilers. Nicole Kidman is briefly quoted on what drew her to the project: "”I am always looking for the right script to bring me home to Australia.  The moment I read Strangerland I knew this was a film I couldn't say no to. I’m looking forward to working on a film in Australia and I'm very excited to be working with Joseph Fiennes and Hugo Weaving.”

As the set pics demonstrate, Hugo Weaving is in fact playing "the cop who leads the investigation" as most reports have suggested from the beginning (sorry, Moviehole) while Joseph Fiennes plays Kidman's husband. Inside Films provides the detail that Hugo's character has a romance plot (or, perhaps, sordid-entanglement plot) with "an Indigenous woman" portrayed by Lisa Flanagan. Screen Daily has some intel on the film's international financing, which involves US and Irish backers as well as Australian.

Hedda Gabler Programme Scans

As some of you know, I've been collecting theatre programmes/Playbills from Hugo Weaving's theatrical career for over ten years now; the full lot has been scanned as posted in chronological order at my Flickr Archive. This week I added a new set of scans from a new acquisition, the programme from the original 2004 Wharf Theatre production of Hedda Gabler, which also starred Cate Blanchett, Aden Young and Justine Clarke. I'll post the new scans here under a cut. I also have the 2006 Brooklyn Academy of Music program, which is different and, alas, represents the only time STC sold programs for a US touring production. (The Sydney productions continue to inspire some of the most magnificent theatre programmes I've seen; Sydney Correspondent Yvette was kind enough to send me a copy of the most recent one, for the Hugo Weaving/Richard Roxburgh Waiting For Godot, last Christmas.)

2004 STC Hedda Gabler Programme ScansCollapse )

In Other Hugo Weaving News

Margaret Pomeranz wrote a flattering review of Healing for The Medical Observer. (I did add that to the previous entry, but here's the link in case anyone missed it.) The film opens 8 May in Australia with a preview screening in Melbourne on 30 April.

The latest DVD/Blu-Ray review for Tim Winton's The Turning is available at Film Freak Reviews...  Madman Films posted a tease of the lavish extras in this "Directors on Locations" featurette, featuring a few of the directors and Hugo discussing location filming.

The latest competitions to win copies of the film are open at Madman NZ and The Turning's Facebook page (the latter including a Hugo Weaving-autographed copy of the DVD along with Tim Winton's book). Some national restrictions may apply.

The Hobbit: There And Back Again was briefly previewed for the crowds at CinemaCon in Las Vegas last week; alas, Peter Jackson's video hasn't appeared online in any form, but you can read breathless descriptions of its content (including " gold-clad Elrond (Hugo Weaving) drawing his sword and charging") at HitFix, TheOneRing.net, and News.com.au. The New York Daily News recently re-posted their 2012 interview with Hugo about playing Elrond. And I recently found five great pics of Hugo at the 2012 Wellington premiere of An Unexpected Journey in Bernard Golder's Flickr account.

Another mostly-positive review for The Mule's SXSW screening (noting Hugo weaving's "devilishly delightful turn as a corrupt cop ") can be read at Next Projection.

And, in case anyone missed it or wants to see it again, here's the link to Cambodian Childrens' Trust's charity appeal video, featuring Hugo Weaving's narration.

Hope everyone out there has a happy Hugo Weaving's Birthday... though it's likely the man himself will be more focused on his current film than on showy celebration. ;)

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Longer Healing Trailer Debuts; Manny Gets Censored (feat. Hugo Weaving Narration), The Mule [24 Mar 2014|06:15pm]

[ mood | good ]

A second version of the theatrical trailer for Hugo Weaving's next film, Healing, premiered quietly online yesterday... in fact, the initial post (by Ross Munro) didn't clarify that this was, in fact, a new edit with new footage, so I accidentally delayed posting because I thought it was another re-post of the first version, which debuted 12 March (D'ooooh!) , until Healing's Facebook page clarified matters. To be fair, they do have identical intros and the same general structure, but this version is longer, includes new footage (and Hugo VO), and blurbs from preview screenings... there are a few shots in v1 that aren't in v2 also. So we now have three trailers for Healing: the introductory teaser and two versions of the theatrical trailer. Bonus: the new version is in higher definition than the first, so i was able to get some higher-quality caps. There are a few more hints about Hugo's character Officer Matt Perry this time too, including a suggestion of family tragedy. (I hope this doesn't mean Hugo's character ends up adopting Don Hany's at the end... though stranger things have happened in the real world...) ;)

Here's v1:


The Healing will have a preview screening at Cinema Nova in Melbourne on 30 April; director Craig Monahan and Don Hany will attend and participate in a post-screening Q & A. More details here. There's also an intriguing early review at The Spectator.

UPDATE: A new 4-star review by Margaret Pomeranz is up at Medical Observer: "In lesser hands this could have been quite schmaltzy, but Craig Monahan, working on a screenplay he wrote with Alison Nisselle, relies not just on a stellar human cast but on the ability to create distinctive personalities with his avian actors, for which Monahan gives due credit to bird handler Andrew Payne... Don Hany, who has established an enviable reputation for himself in television as a leading man, is grizzled and grey here as well as very impressive. There is not a weak link in performance, with Weaving, Samuel and Winter particularly convincing... This is the most accessible prison film of memory, certainly it’s the one that aims for the emotional jugular, and actually hits the target."

ScreencapsCollapse )

Manny Gets Censored

I first heard about this short film last summer but couldn't confirm much beyond a few vague post-production tweets from the crew suggesting Hugo contributed a voiceover... now the full film is finally completed and has been successfully screened, winning Best Australian Short Film at The Mudgee Film Festival. The first two minutes of the film (which totals eight) have been posted online:

(Ticktock, via Vimeo)

Since the basic conceit of the film -- the meta-joke that a character becomes aware his anatomy is suddenly censored with black bars or dots-- is at least as old as Monty Python, I hope the rest of the piece does something inspired with the concept... and I don't mean just having the character also become conscious that his life is being narrated. That's been done many times too. (In fact, I see near-daily Tweets by people who wish Hugo would narrate their lives.) ;) Also, I don't think I've seen this sort of censorship since the 90s... lately it's almost always done via digital blurring. (Granted, current technology tends to either obscure too much or too little, depending on one's perspective.  ;) In TV comedy bits, it's almost always obvious that an actor is really wearing flesh-colored underwear... which is to be expected, of course, but it often ruins the joke.)

(Subhadra Young, via Twitter)

On a similar note, I was doing some "spring cleaning" of my Hugo photo archive and lingered on some caps from Bedrooms and Hallways (don't pretend you don't know which ones, or that you haven't done the same thing.) ;) Anyhow, since I now have decent photo editing software and an HD monitor, I'm now fairly certain that flesh-colored briefs were worn during the swimming-pool sequence (just by Hugo, not by Tom Hollander). Flesh-colored briefs with some...uh...realistic embellishment in front to complete the illusion. This would explain why, despite 15 years of fan efforts, there's never been a "conclusive" screencap of that scene, and why the sex scenes featuring these characters tend to be edited away from or ended just when things are getting interesting. ;) But enough of my rumination... and do feel free to prove me wrong about this. ;) I'm still dealing with less than optimal technology, and so far as I know, B&H has never been released on Blu-Ray. (Probably because the actors are sick of reading fan freeze-frame chat about it online...)

Since short films (other than funny cat videos, music videos or celebrity hijinks) still get short shrift online despite it being the optimal place to see them, I'm going to put it out there that plenty of people ARE willing to pay a reasonable fee to stream or download short films if distributors would simply MAKE THEM AVAILABLE. Yes, I understand the appeal of showcasing them at festivals, but not everyone can make it to the large cities where short film fests happen. and only films lucky enough to receive Oscar nominations are guaranteed widespread VOD availability/DVD compilations/compilation screenings in cinemas. I've been a Hugo Weaving fan for ages now, and still haven't seen about half of his short films. I've only seen one (Everything Goes) in a cinema and so far as I know, only two (The Kiss (1998) and The Girl Who Swallowed Bees (2008)) have appeared on DVD compilations, which may now be out of print. (The Kiss, Bees, Little Echo Lost (1999), The Road To Alice (1993), and Everything Goes (2004) have appeared legally online at various times). I've never seen The Rose of Ba Ziz (2007), True Colours (1997), What's Going On Frank (1995) or No Budget (2013).  And don't get me started on Hugo's long list of obscure, long-unavailable TV documentaries. Or The Key Man. ;)

The Mule

Though SXSW has concluded, new reviews, podcasts and interviews for The Mule keep appearing, Reviews continue to be largely positive. You can read/hear the latest at Geek Scholars (The Mule is reviewed-- receiving a B grade--  into the audio podcast), Crave Online, FearNet, the Sydney Morning Herald, Junkee.com,

Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson's latest promo interviews, poo recipes, etc are up at Moveable Feast and We Got This Covered.  Alas, still no distribution info available... but the filmmakers MUST now know the film will play well in the US if they market it wisely.

In Other Hugo News:

The Turning will screen at the Hong Kong International Film Festival on 29 March and 5 April. Details and ticketing info here. You can read Bede Jermyn's review of the recent Australian DVD/Blu-Ray package here. The Limited Edition DVD includes a smaller version of the booklet handed out at Australian special screenings of the film last fall as well as an entire disc of extras. I also have a copy of the larger version of the booklet; since virtual versions of all the film and character pages are available online (at The Turning's official site) I haven't made scans of either, but would be happy to do so if there's a demand. But I do strongly urge fans of the author, actors or filmmakers to buy their own copy or rent/stream when it becomes available. Ideally there will be more international cinema distribution, which is why I haven't watched my DVD... yet. But I don't know how long I'll hold out.

New, well-written Mystery Road reviews are available at Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys) and Filmstalker. More pics of Aaron Pedersen, Ivan Sen and other cast and crew at the recent FCCA Awards are up at The Reel World.

Strangerland begins filming TODAY (according to On The Set); no detailed new information has been made available yet (including final confirmation on the roles) but there are brief updates in The Cowra Guardian and The Australian.         

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Hugo Weaving Narrates Cambodian Children's Trust Video; SXSW Mule Reviews; Strangerland Cast Change [17 Mar 2014|04:47pm]

[ mood | accomplished ]

Cambodian Children's Trust Charitable Appeal

I'll have several brief updates on Hugo's upcoming projects shortly, but wanted to prioritize his narration of this new video from Cambodian Children's Trust, which was announced several weeks ago and debuted online yesterday. Hugo has worked on behalf of many charities over the years, including Voiceless.org and various actors' equity and arts education groups CCT (a "secular, non-profit Cambodian NGO working to enable children in Battambang to become educated, ethical and empowered future leaders of Cambodia") has a number of complex and admirable goals which you can read about in more detail on their website and Facebook page; the video is a brief introduction to their plans and achievements:

CCT will also host a benefit concert in Sydney on 21 May; more details and ticketing info here.

The Mule At SXSW

Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson participated in several uproarious interviews promoting The Mule at SXSW; I'll embed the shortest (and most LJ-compatible) here, but if you're interested in the film the others are worth a look too, if only to let you know what you're in for (including a behind-the-scenes factoid that'll forvever change your perception of Snickers bars). ;)

Screen Rant, via YouTube

More interviews featured at Bloody Disgusting, ComingSoon.net.

The film also earned near-unanimous raves through its four festival screenings; here's a sampling of the latest with links back to full reviews:

Click For Review Excerpts...Collapse )

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Healing Trailer Debuts; Positive Reviews For The Mule at SXSW; Mystery Road & The Turning Win FCCAs [12 Mar 2014|04:45pm]

[ mood | mischievous ]


The first full-length trailer for Hugo Weaving's forthcoming film Healing is scheduled to appear at any minute, first broadcast on Sunrise at 7 on Australian TV, but it should hit the internet soon thereafter, and I'll embed it as soon as that happens. A 30-second teaser trailer for the film came out earlier this year. The film opens in Australia 8 May and also stars Don Hany, Xavier Samuel and Mark Leonard. Craig Monahan (The Interview, Peaches) directed. No international distribution plans have yet been announced, but Lightning Entertainment does hold the international rights

STOP THE PRESSES: Turns out, the Healing trailer is already available online at Lightning's website, and it looks great. You'll need Quicktime to see this version... I'll keep working on finding a version I can cross-post here. And here's the link to Sunrise 7's video.

The Mule at SXSW

The response to The Mule's first two SXSW festival screenings has been overwhelmingly positive, with both the industry trades (The Hollywood Reporter, Screen Daily) and the Geek Contingent (Ain't it Cool News) finding its entertaining aspects outweigh its potentially appalling ones. I'll post excerpts below with links to the full reviews, with the caveat that some sites give away graphic details of the film's "biggest gross-out moment". ;) We also finally have confirmation that Hugo Weaving is indeed playing a corrupt cop, as I'd long suspected. (Based on about twenty years of type-casting and the knowledge that John Noble was playing the gangster who hired the title character...) But Angus Sampson, not Leigh Whannell, plays the hapless drug mule at the center of the story, and Whannell plays the friend who gets him into all that trouble by talking him into swallowing certain illegal product. Ewen Leslie (who costarred with Hugo Weaving in Riflemind back in 2007) plays another bad cop. Their characters are named John Croft (Weaving) and Les Paris (Leslie).

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Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson participated in a Q&A after the film's March 9 premiere which most viewers on hand deemed highly entertaining and a few deemed "drunken"... video was supposedly rolling, but nothing but still photos have appeared online as yet. Whannell gave a lengthy audio interview to Tim Drake's On The Mic Podcast that covered a wide range of topics including the state in indie film distribution and some of his more commercial projects. He sounded reluctant to divulge much detail about The Mule or how it might be widely released, but had high praise for his cast and curiosity about how Americans might react to the potentially queasy subject matter. (Apparently he hasn't seen that many American films in the past few years... these days even Disney product goes in for bodily function humor. We Yanks have always been an uncouth bunch under that Puritain exterior...) ;)

Whannell was ambivalent about the film's chances of seeing cinematic distribution on a wide scale... I personally hope that the film is given a proper cinematic release and not shuttled off to VOD/streaming. Call me old-fashioned, but I still prefer to see films in a theater with an audience. I know that this distribution method often does smaller indie films no favors, and that many in the industry believe only big-budget SFX extravaganzas will be released this way, but I think that would be a travesty. Certainly VOD has an important place in getting many films seen by a wide audience, and some would argue they don't necessarily need to see the contents of Angus Sampson's bowels blown giant-size... but those of us who live beyond the reach of the festival circuit shouldn't be shut out from seeing films in cinemas that don't involve superheroes or princesses in sing-alongs.  On a more universally positive note, Whannell confirmed that he and the other filmmakers are currently preparing the film's trailer, and that they do have high hopes for it beyond the festival circuit.

Mystery Road Wins Best Picture, Director at Film Critics Circle Awards

The Australian critics have continued to counterbalance the Hollywood-biased results of this year's AACTA Awards; first the Australian Film Critics Awards handed Mystery Road six prizes, now the Film Critics Circle of Australia (FCCA) has given the film three of its most prestigious awards, including Best Picture (a tie with The Rocket), Best Director (Ivan Sen) and Best Lead Actor (Aaron Pedersen). Hugo Weaving tied for Best Supporting Actor with Joel Edgerton; this time his performance in Tim Winton's The Turning was recognized. More details and the fill list of awards recipients are available at Urban Cinefile, The Sydney Morning Herald, and Sydney Arts Guide.  The film's latest rave review can be read at The Movie Blog (JDIFF screening review.)

Aaron Pedersen (middle, front row), Ivan Sen (behind him) and other members of Mystery Road's cast & crew celebrate the film's FCCA wins  Photo: FCCA's Twitter feed

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Mystery Road Wins Six AFCAs, The Mule to Debut at SXSW, More Berlinale Pics & Interviews [08 Mar 2014|05:39pm]

[ mood | good ]

Apologies for the long delay in getting this entry posted; over the past few weeks I've had to deal with illness (both my own and in my family), extra work hours, and-- more happily-- New York theatre adventures with my boyfriend. But all the while the Hugo News has been piling up, and it's time I assembled the "notes" from my Twitter feed into a more comprehensible form.

The Turning at Berlinale

New photos and stories from Hugo Weaving and David Wenham's Berlinale appearance promoting Tim Winton's The Turning continue to appear online. The most exciting of these is an audio interview posted by Fred Film Radio, which features some lovely moments from both actor and director, about their collaboration on "Commission" and how the film's theme of transformation is reflected in their own lives. Hugo's discussion of his own "turning points" is something every fan will want to hear.  I'll also repost the link to the Film3Sixty dual interview IO cross-posted in the previous entry in case anyone missed it.  In addition, I'll share all the Berlinale photos of the two that have been posted online since that last entry throughout this one, with the caveat that some have incredibly annoying watermarks. (As always, if anyone has seen  clean versions of these... please let us know.) ;)

Hugo Weaving at Berlinale by Sascha Werner via Instagram
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The film had a unique showcase at Melbourne's White Night event on 22 February, with each segment shown in a different location across the city, encouraging fans to travel to and experience each in situ. This short video of highlights which originally appeared on the film's Facebook page, and Robert Connolly shared all of the screening locations via Instagram, including that of "Commission":

(Madman Films via YouTube)

"Commission" screens at White Night Melbourne   Photo: Rob Connolly, via Instagram

The Turning is now available on DVD/Blu-Ray from Madman Films, with the DVD version available in both regular and Limited Edition packages. If you've missed all of the numerous online giveaways for the film (some have only been open to Australian residents), the least expensive retail outlets include JBHiFi and Devoted DVD; the compendium is also still streaming on iView (Australian viewers only) on a segment-by-segment basis as well as the full three-hour film.  Recent reviews are available at Quickflix, Issimo Magazine.

Mystery Road Sweeps The Australian Film Critics Awards

Some welcome news for fans of Mystery Road who might have been frustrated by its poor treatment at this year's Hollywood-fixated, Baz Lurhmann-pandering AACTA Awards: Ivan Sen's film turned the tables at the Australian Film Critic Awards on March first, winning six out of the eight main awards presented, including well-earned statuettes for Best Picture. lead actor Aaron Pedersen (who attended to collect the film's haul), supporting actor Hugo Weaving and director Ivan Sen. The film also won Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography.  For more on the AFCAs, check out Inside Film, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, An Online Universe and of course AFCA's website.

Aaron Pedersen with some of Mystery Road's AFCAs (via the film's Facebook page)

Mystery Road is now out on DVD and Blu-Ray in Australia from Transmission Films. Distribution deals for the UK and North America are in place, but so far no specifics have been announced. The film was screened to wide acclaim at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival and Glasgow Film Festival last month. You can read recent reviews from these festivals (and the recent DVD release and Australia TV screening) at Movies Films And Movies, ViewLondon, Scotland Herald, The Horror Club, Spooool.ie and The Irish Times.

The Mule To Screen At SXSW, Poster Debuts Online

Hugo's next film The Mule, costarring John Noble, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, Ewen Leslie  and Noni Hazelhurst (who also costarred with Hugo in 2005's Little Fish), is scheduled to premiere tomorrow at the South By Southwest Festival in Austin, TX. The film has "good advance buzz", according to Austin 360, and a "hand-painted promo poster" created just for the festival debuted at Twitch Film yesterday, and was promptly cross-posted on many other sites, including FirstShowing.net, Live For Films and Film Pulse, which gushed "The movie sounds completely gross and ridiculous and I absolutely can’t wait to check it out next week." SXSW will feature four screening of The Mule, on March 9, 10, 13 and 15. More details (and tickets available) here.

Though the film's marketing continues to leave very little to the imagination ;), we still have no specifics on Hugo's role, though that should change as soon as the premiere happens and the first reviews roll in. Here's the only image of Hugo as he appears in the film that we have so far:

I'm still guessing he plays someone in law enforcement, as we know John Noble plays a drug kingpin/club owner and Whannell (probably) plays the title character. I hope the film isn't just one long bodily function gag, because it's been too long since we've seen Hugo in a good black comedy. I also hope it fares better than Hugo's last black comedy/crime caper to debut at SXSW: The Key Man, which still hangs in a strange limbo, with legal screenings in only a far-flung handful of countries.  (Screencaps taken from these streaming sites have appeared several places online, including a group of what could rival Bedrooms & Hallways among Hugo Weaving films for most freeze-frames per scene should the film ever be widely released:

Hugo Weaving and Brian Cox in They Key Man   Photo:  zakharvlad1 via Flickr (one of 14 screencaps of this scene) No idea what sort of relationship these characters have. ;)

You can read a little more about The Mule as well as the other Australian films screening at SXSW at BlouInArtInfo.

Strangerland Begins Filming Next Month

We finally have some concrete news on Hugo's next project to shoot: the crime drama/psychological thriller Strangerland, costarring Nicole Kidman and Guy Pearce. According to two articles in The Canowindra News and associated papers, some scenes will be filmed next month in Canowindra, NSW next month. A second article notes that extras (including "teenage dirt bike riders" and young boys) are being sought for the location filming, and that other scenes will be shot in "far western NSW, Sydney and the central west, with at least some scenes to be shot in Canowindra’s main street, Gaskill Street."  According to Fairfax Media's synopsis, "The mystery drama centres around a couple whose lives unravel after their two teenage children go missing in a dust storm." Kim Farrant will direct from a screenplay by Fiona Seres and Michael Kinirons. No specifics on roles have been officially announced yet, but Nicole Kidman and Guy Pearce probably play the couple in question. An earlier incarnation of the cast featured Hugo as a police investigator, but this may have changed.

Hugo Takes Part In Light The Dark Sydney

Hugo Weaving's most recent public appearance was an informal one, at Light The Dark Sydney.  The Light the Dark vigils were held across Australia on 23 February to protest the slaying of asylum seeker Reza Barati while he was held in custody by Australian immigration last August, and raise awareness about the treatment of refugees who attempt to enter Australia. (You can read more about the issue and the event at NineMSN, The Guardian and Buzzfeed.)

Hugo Weaving and Katrina Greenwood at Light The Dark   Photo: Susan Darling via Twitter/Instagram

Hug Weaving with Harry Greenwood (center) at Light The Dark Sydney  Photo: Adam Marsters via Twitter/Instagram

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In Other Hugo Weaving News

Hugo Weaving and David Wenham's less-heralded recent short film, "No Budget" (directed by Christopher Stollery) will screen at several locations in Australia as part of Flickerfest between now and May. For more details, go to Film Ink or the Flickerfest website.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert costume designer Tim Chappel was interviewed by ABC as a selection of Oscar-winning original costumes (including Mitzi del Bra's infamous Thong Dress) from the 1994 classic go on display at the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) collection in Canberra. " 'There was blood, I have to admit there was blood,' Mr Chappel said....'But they looked great!' "

I don't want to give the pathetic Star Wars rumormongering any more publicity, but do feel a need to challenge how the bulk of entertainment media websites have covered the recent news that Adam Driver appears to have clinched the villain role in the forthcoming trilogy. Though the Hollywood Reporter posted some unfounded (and since proven false) rumors that Hugo Weaving was in contention for the role, he never actually was, never met with JJ Abrams or "auditioned" and, indeed, never knew about the rumors in the first place until asked at last month's Berlinale. (See video below.) Variety broke the Driver story and reprinted THR's vague assertions that Hugo and Michael Fassbender might have also been "under consideration" for the role. Everyone else is now ludicrously spinning this gossip as
Driver "beating out" Weaving and Fassbender. In fact, we KNOW Hugo was never interested, and Fassbender likely never was either. JJ Abrams has said most of the casting rumors about the film are "hot air", and he's never mentioned Weaving or Fassbender. I suspect the rumors were started either by Disney, in an attempt to gin up publicity for the film, or by various Hollywood agents trying to get their clients in the running. Or, possibly, they were conjured out of thin air by fanboys who work at media websites who want these actors to keep being typecast for the rest of their lives. But it's likely Abrams always sought to cast up-and-coming younger actors to play new characters in Star Wars VII. And I hope this is the last time I have to say this: Hugo Weaving never WANTED to be in this film, theredore he wasn't "beaten out" by anyone else. He simply has different goals as an actor than most entertainment sites (including those in Australia, which should know better) seem to be able to comprehend. And anyone who actually fact-checked the story knows Hugo Weaving would be filming Strangerland and then starring in Macbeth at the time Star Wars VII is supposed to go before the cameras.

SuperPopAccess via YouTube

The Cult Magazine Hugo Weaving Interview/Cover Story

Finally (and, with apologies, very belatedly) here are my scans of Hugo Weaving's amazing interview for Cult Magazine which was originally published (in print format only) last November in advance of Waiting For Godot's STC run. Hugo discusses the challenges of playing Vladimir in Beckett's play (alongside Richard Roxburgh) and drops a few hints about next year's production of Macbeth (tickets still available here-- but going fast!) and how Godot played into his own existential crises. It's an insightful, often endearing interview. In addition, the piece features several of Michelle Aboud's striking promotional images for STC's Macbeth, including one I hadn't seen before.
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Off-Topic Asides (aka Friends Of Hugo News)

Congratulations to Cate Blanchett on her well-deserved Oscar win, which followed every other major Best Actress prize on the Hollywood awards circuit this year. Blanchett's acceptance speech emphasized the importance of the Sydney Theatre Company in her career.

Also, I recently was lucky enough to see Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in No Man's Land, after having seen their take on Waiting For Godot last fall. This time around I was lucky enough to get autographs from the full cast after the show... the four actors (including Billy Crudup and Shuler Hensley) were kind enough to sign for dozens of fans who waited outside the stage door after the matinee on March 1. If they do this after every performance, I'd worry about them getting carpal tunnel (also, it was bitterly cold that afternoon.) You can see my boyfriend John's pictures of the signing here. Ideally US fans will be able to compare this Godot to STC's sometime next year... our Sydney Correspondent Yvette asked Richard Roxburgh (during an online Rake-promotional Twitter feed) if a 2015 US or international tour was still possible, and he replied that there were "Some mutterings about various foreign ports currently."... which means, roughly, that he can't say anything definitive, but it might happen. ;)

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[03 Mar 2014|11:02pm]

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Still More Berlinale Photos Featuring Hugo Weaving & David Wenham + New Interview, Healing Updates [12 Feb 2014|06:13pm]

[ mood | lethargic ]

New photos (and improved copies of earlier ones) continue to trickle in, so a new entry is warranted to assemble the latest finds. Note that some of these did appear in the previous entry in lower-res versions; I do always try to share the best-available copies but apologize if this seems redundant. I also found an AP site with (slightly) less obnoxious watermarks; since some of the photos are unique and wonderfully expressive, I'll go ahead and post them despite my misgivings. If anyone has clean copies of ANY watermarked photos, as always, there are a lot of fans very eager to see them...

As is often the case, there are some lovely fan photos in the mix too... thanks to everyone who took them and shared them online.

A distinguished shot from Martin Briese (via Twitter)

Above two photos: Hugo Weaving and David Wenham sign for fans at The Turning's gala screening 9 February  Photos: LevelK Film/Facebook

Very interesting composition. ;) David Wenham, flanked by Hugo Weaving and Robert Connolly  Photo: DoctorWarning, via Twitter

Hugo Weaving, Robert Connolly and David Wenham walk the red carpet  Photo: Cinemazzi

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There are also several web articles summarizing the festival's highlights thusfar, including at Cinemazzi and Berlinale Press Releases ; unfortunately, The Turning hasn't gotten abundant coverage, nor have any internaional sales been announced except those noted by Inside Film and Screen Daily... so if your're in Russia, the Benelux countries or frequent "world airlines" ...rejoice. Ideally, the film has picked up distribution further afield as well. (It has already been shown in New Zealand as well as its well-received "special presentation" release at home.)


Hugo's forthcoming film Healing (directed by Craig Monahan) has had a quieter presence at Berlinale, as it's primarily being shown to potential distributors, but the raves it's already won from Variety and Screen Daily have gotten the attention of the Australian press, with excerpts and other details about the film posted at Inside Film. Note that the film's Australian release date is now May 8 (not April 4, as some sites previously reported.)

Also: film extra Simone Maree shared this glimpse of Hugo on the set via her Tumblr account:

"Hugo Weaving - my girlfriend and I were extras in his most recent film."

STOP THE PRESSES: Film3Sixty just posted transcripts of their interview session with Hugo Weaving and David Wenham at Berlinale!

More below the cut...Collapse )

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More Pictures, Video of The Turning Press Conference & Gala Premiere At Berlinale [10 Feb 2014|08:04pm]

[ mood | amused ]

Sorry for the delay in getting some of this stuff up; I had to attend to some less riveting matters like work, sleep and other forms of personal maintenance.

We do finally have video of the FULL Berlinale press conference for Tim Winton's The Turning, though only edited highlights were posted to YouTube. I'll attempt an embed of both, but if only one appears, it's because LJ is up to its usual tricks in not allowing non-YouTube embeds. But the full event was only around 24 minutes, with Hugo Weaving fielding only two questions (one about his character, Bob Lang, the other about the film's continuity and scoring.) I hadn't known this yesterday as I waited for the delayed press conference to begin, but the press were distracted by events at the preceding Berlinale event: I knew at the time it was for Lars von Trier's latest controversy-engine, but this time Shia Le Boeuf's ongoing attempts at career implosion out-controversied even von Trier. I've always thought artists should get attention for quality work and professional behavior, but all too often-- even at prestigious fetivals-- a tabloid atmosphere pervades, and serious, non-sensationalist work like The Turning gets short shrift.

So I guess that's where us fans have to do all we can... here are those videos. ;)

The full press conference (note: there is no audio during part of the film clip)

YouTube Press Conference "highlights"

PopSugar has posted four interesting supplemental clips featuring Weaving and Wenham: one features the Star Wars refutation from last night's Getty clip (plus Hugo's bemused resignation that he'll probably be doing Hobbit films for the rest of his life) but the other four are refreshingly on-topic about The Turning. It's great to see these two smiling and jibing with one another after the somewhat rushed, perfunctory press conference.

On David Wenham's directorial debut

Hugo, on working with David as a director

On the pleasures and challenges of The Turning's unusual structure

On The Turning's shooting schedule, how the pieces fit together

On "never leaving Middle Earth", not wanting to do Star Wars

Lots of new photos are turning up in the usual disorganised manner; oddly, none of the Berlinale social networking sites have given the film much attention, but the main website makes up for that with a lavish gallery of "star portraits" and event photos; the film's Facebook page and several other media outlets have also come through, though only a couple of Getty's pics of the premiere gala (as opposed to the press conference) have appeared without watermarks. A few others I might try and "adjust", but some sites watermark photos so heavily that they basically ruin them (and make it nearly impossible to gauge if the photo is worth buying in the first place.)

Smashing 'star portrait' of Hugo from the Berlinale website gallery; Photo: Gerhard Kassner / Berlinale

Hugo Weaving and David Wenham share a laugh at the gala premiere  Photo:Clemens Bilan/Getty Images

Hugo at the Turning gala premiere  Photo: Clemens Bilan/Getty Images

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Mystery Road, The Turning Receive More Awards Nominations

Hugo Weaving has another nomination for Best Supporting Actor, this time for his role in Mystery Road, from The Australian Film Critics Association. Mystery Road received additional nominations for Best Actor (Aaron Pedersen), Supporting Actress (Tasma Walton), Film, Director (Ivan Sen),  Screenplay, and Cinematography (both Sen). The Turning was nominated for Best Film, Best Supporting Actress (Rose Byrne), Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography (various). The award winners will be announced 1 March. For more details and the full list of nominees, go to the AFCA's website or FilmInk.


UPDATE: Craig Monahan's film Healing has drawn another positive review after its Berlinale press screenings, this time from Variety.  Here are excerpts:

"A group of conflicted men, prisoners and inmates discover the majesty of great birds — and through them, the cleansing power of redemption — in the deeply felt outdoor drama “Healing.” The first film in a decade from director and co-writer Craig Monahan, whose 1998 psychological thriller 'The Interview' remains an uncommonly smart genre piece, this equally intelligent and satisfying item will prove therapeutic to distribs on the hunt for quality fare....

The film is inspired by the formation of the real-life alliance between the Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary in the outback, northwest of Melbourne, and the state-run penal system Prisons Victoria....Into this facility comes Viktor Khadem (Don Hany, extraordinary), who, after 18 years behind bars for murder, has little understanding of the contemporary world and nothing to look forward to from his long-estranged Iranian family. Viktor is assigned to Matt Perry (Hugo Weaving), a committed officer with a fondness for rescuing Raptors and, like Viktor, weighty past issues of his own. On the suggestion of Healesville bird specialist Glynis (Jane Menelaus), Matt rams the rehabilitation program past his skeptical superiors and installs Viktor as supervisor....

It’s refreshing to see a film that takes its own sweet time building characters and the subtle conflicts simmering among them. Led by the familiar and bankable Weaving, the cast, under Monahan’s sure guidance, deftly underplays what could have been, in other hands, an awkward melodrama." -- Eddie Cockrell

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The Turning Berlinale Press Conference (w/ Hugo Weaving, David Wenham); Dismisses Star Wars Rumors [09 Feb 2014|12:21pm]

[ mood | exhausted ]

Tim Winton's The Turning was the subject of a brief (too brief, IMO) press conference this morning at the Berlinale; the first press photos are starting to appear, along with a few fan photos. Some online fans are slagging Hugo and the other participants for not stopping to pose for photos, but people should be aware that no photo call or red carpet was scheduled for this film, and that Berlinale's event organizers seemed to be keeping everyone on a very tight leash.  I was able to record a limited amount of live video (including all of Weaving and Wenham's answers-- Hugo got two questions and David got maybe three) but am trusting Berlinale will have an official, professional-quality copy up shortly, once they get over oohing and aahing over Lars von Trier's latest opus about sexual sadism. ;)

But first I might as well get those pics posted:

This and next 10 images: Athanasios Gioumpasis/Getty Images Europe via Zimbio

Many more!Collapse )I'll post links or an embed of the full press conference video once the Berlinale website/YouTube channel makes it available; hopefully Hugo Weaving and the Turning's directors will do additional press interviews while at the festival; it would be a shame for them to have come so far for just a brief press conference.


UPDATE: Sorry, had to spend a few hours at work, then another hour fixing an audio issue on the computer. (Apparently all the screen recording overtaxed the poor thing...) No, Berlinale still hasn't stopped gushing over Lars von Trier long enough to post the Turning press conference, but I have something just as good from Getty Videos. Hollywood Reporter and about a zillion fanboys will want to take note, as this concerns those Star Wars rumors:

He not only hasn't heard the rumors and hasn't auditioned or spoken to JJ Abrams... but he's just not interested. Anyone who's actually read Hugo's in-depth interviews in the past few years shouldn't really be surprised, but The Hollywood Reporter and about a zillion movie websites might wanna fact-check a bit more thoroughly in the future. And no, I don't think he's being coy either. Hugo doesn't play games that way. If he was interested or in talks, he'd say something like "I don't know, you'll have to wait and see," as he did when asked about The Hobbit through all those years of development hell (and premature rumors). Consolation prize, though: it appears David Wenham is ready to take on any of Hugo's rejected cartoon-villain roles... so you fanboys can start painting old film stills of him blue-faced or in Imperial uniforms if you like. ;)

I've been somewhat confident in debunking these particular rumors because Hugo is scheduled to film Strangerland and then star in Macbeth when Abrams' film allegedly rolls... but I really did need to hear it from the source to be certain, as Hugo never does what ANY fan expects 100% of the time. And, great as this is, I'd really love to see some "Turning interviews" that are actually about The Turning. Or about Healing. Or any film Hugo Weaving is actually in. ;)

Getty and Wire Image have five new post-press-conference pics (Hugo's finally looking like he's enjoying himself in them, now that the hard bit's done)... I'll wait a few hours and see if Zimbio won't provide clean versions for inclusion here, but they're worth looking at in any form if you're impatient. I'm being called away on another late gig, but for some reason, I suddenly feel much better. ;) 

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Hugo Weaving To Appear At Berlinale; Festival Screenings For Healing, The Mule; Awards Update [08 Feb 2014|11:50pm]

[ mood | bitchy ]

Awards Update

Apologies for the lack of updates recently; I'm recovering from a bout with the flu. Also, I found the results of the AACTA Awards and Sydney Theatre Awards a bit wanting, to put it mildly. The AACTAs chose to reward style over substance, larding Baz Luhrmann's glitzy but empty Great Gatsby remake with honors while snubbing genuinely Australian actors and films in most of the high-profile categories. Rose Byrne was given The Turning's sole award (for Best Actress) and Mystery Road was snubbed altogether. The Sydney Theatre Awards took an opposite tack, seeming to deliberately slight any actor with a degree of fame (Cate Blanchett, Hugo and Richard Roxburgh were also overlooked) in favor of more obscure performances, though one could argue there might have been vote-splitting in some categories. STC's Waiting For Godot was, at least, rewarded Best Mainstage Production and Luke Mullins Best Supporting Actor.

I had assumed in advance in the AACTAs that Hugo was unlikely to win due to his role in The Turning being only about ten minutes long, and because he'd won Best Supporting Actor for Oranges and Sunshine only two years ago. But a last-minute flurry of opinion pieces and predictions in the Australian press damnably got my hopes up, particularly this Herald-Sun article (see below the cut). Though Hugo attended last year's event to present an award, he seems to have been absent this time around, or at least to have avoided the red carpet and photographers. Since he also gave the event a pass the previous year (when he won for O & S) it would appear that he prefers celebrating other actors to competing against them; the last time Hugo collected an award in person was in 2005 for Little Fish. Props to Leigh Paatsch, Eva Orner (via Inside Film) and other writers, bloggers and journalists who thought The Turning and Mystery Road deserved better.

AACTAs Preview ArticleCollapse )
Fortunately, awards have never been a primary motivator for Hugo; to date I've never seen him engage in the sort of campaigning and self-publicity that Oscar contenders routinely undertake.  But there will be more possible accolades for both films (and other films underappreciated at The AACTAs, like The Rocket and Satellite Boy) when The Film Critics Circle of Australia hand out their honors on March 11.  Hugo was nominated for Best Supporting Actor honors for both Mystery Road AND The Turning, meaning he's in the enviable position of splitting votes with himself. Mystery Road is also up for Best Feature Film, best Director (Ivan Sen), Best Lead Actor (Aaron Pedersen), Best Actress (Tasma Walton), Best Script, Music, Cinematography and editing (all Sen),  and Production Design. The Turning picked up another nod for Rose Byrne's performance, though this time it was classified a supporting performance.

The Turning at Berlinale

I was uncertain as to whether or not Hugo Weaving would attend this year's Berlinale; he has two films screening there (Healing has press and distribution screenings, while The Turning has its international premiere, including a press conference tomorrow morning) and he tends to go all out in supporting Australian films at such events, but his name didn't appear on any early guests lists. But yesterday we had the first hints in the direction of confirmation he would indeed be on hand. First a fan who works at the Abu Dhabi airport posted a new photo:

Photo: Josh Cher via Instagram/Twitter

Of course, there are any number of reasons Hugo might be in Abu Dhabi, but I wondered if he might not be en route to another event. My suspicions were confirmed a few hours later when Hugo was photographed at the Berlin airport:

Photo: Chad Buchanan/Getty Images via WireImage

Note: I have mixed feelings about images like these, as they might seem intrusive to some. (Hugo is not actively participating in a public event, though he's en route to one). So I'll apologize upfront if anyone thinks these cross the line into paparazzi invasion of privacy. Since Hugo seems aware of and not upset by the photographer, and these aren't unflattering, I'm going ahead and posting them, but I do have misgivings.   Ideally we'll have some more relaxed, subject-approved pics once the press conference gets underway tomorrow.

More Berlin Airport PhotosCollapse )

The Turning's official Berlinale press conference will begin soon, at 15.45 CET (9.45 AM EST, 2.45/14.45 GMT). David Wenham, who directed Hugo in "Commission" is also on hand in Berlin. To watch a live-stream of the press conference, keep an eye on Berlinale's Live Video page; the completed video will then appear on their YouTube feed, and I'll embed it here.  You can also see new photos of Berlinale events on the festival's Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds.


Though Craig Monahan's film isn't having a formal gala screening at Berlinale, it is being screened for critics and potential buyers; thus we already have our first review for the film-- a positive one-- from Screen Daily. Here are excerpts:  "Three wounded creatures need healing in this attractive Australian feature — a broken-winged eagle, the reluctant prisoner given responsible for its rehabilitation, and the officer in overall charge of the raptor programme. Though the three outcomes are hardly in doubt, the heartfelt tale is told with plenty of soaring nature shots in and above Victoria’s photogenic Macedon Ranges. Aussie academy award winning cinematographer Andrew Lesnie (The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit) adds much visual panache to the otherwise plain narrative....This is director/co-producer/co-writer Monahan’s third feature with actor Hugo Weaving... and there’s a brooding masculinity about the low-security inland prison farm community in which Healing based. Violence is constantly threatened.

... Iranian/Australian Viktor (Don Hany) is in the final 18 months of a 16-year sentence for a drunken crime for which he has no excuses, only self-loathing. Deliberately aloof, he antagonises his fellow inmates (“He may have been a hard man once,” says one, “he’s just an old man now”) and he seems a hopeless case until officer Matt (Weaving), himself unable to recover from a family blow, initiates a programme to assist the nearby wild bird sanctuary. This introduces Viktor to various falcons, owls and Yasmine, a magnificent wounded wedged-tailed eagle....Performances are strong. Tough and wounded, both Weaving and Hany hold our attention throughout."

The Mule

Screen Australia put together a lovely promotional PDF for the Australian selections at Berlinale; in addition to highlighting Tim Winton's The Turning and Healing, it included a nice surprise amid promos for other Australian films in various stages of production, our first look at Hugo Weaving in The Mule:

This followed hot on the heels of the announcement that The Mule will have its world premiere next month at the SXSW Festival in Austin, TX as part of their Narrative Spotlight section. (Specific dates and times TBA). So I was technically mistaken in calling Healing Hugo's next film to see release in the last entry, though it will be the next one in theatrical release in Australia. SXSW's page for the film features a very different film still than the one I've elected to share. Though I can't be certain which actor the still depicts, I will say I'm quite certain it isn't Hugo. ;)  (My best guess is that it's Leigh Whannell, who, according to most sources, plays the hapless title character.)

Here's the official synopsis: "In 1983, a naive man detained by Australian Federal Police has lethal narcotics hidden in his stomach. Alone and afraid, 'the mule' makes a desperate choice to withhold the evidence...literally....Defying his bodily functions, 'the mule' inadvertently drags the cops, the criminals and his family deep into the bowels of hell, confirming - 'it’s what’s inside that counts.' ”

Oddly, we still have no information on Hugo's character; since John Noble is known to be playing a crime lord/club owner, one might assume Hugo is playing a cop, but he might be playing a different crime lord, the smuggler's father, or a character yet unknown. We do know it's a period film, and that's he's sharply dressed, but that's about it.  Whannell is quoted in Screen Australia's announcement of the film's festival berth: ""Austin is a film fan's town and we are so excited to be holding the world premiere of The Mule at SXSW, a festival that embraces independent and original films... We cannot wait to see the crowd in Austin devour it."  More info, and the full slate of SXSW films, can be read at IndieWire and We Got This Covered,  It's unknown how the film will be distributed beyond SXSW; let's just hope it fares better than The Key Man, which debuted at SXSW 2011 and mostly vanished without a trace (apart from a few random cable screenings and online streaming in the Middle East and Eastern Europe)...

In Other Hugo News

Mystery Road had a successful Australian TV screening on 26 January (and subsequent online streaming for Australian audiences). The DVD is officially released 12 February (Blu-Ray as well). Tim Winton's The Turning will follow a similar distribution route, airing 23 February on ABC1; the DVD/Blu-Ray will follow on 24 February. Though The Turning has secured distribution to some countries, according to Inside Film,  no specific release dates outside of Australia have yet been announced, nor has it acquired an American distributor. Mystery Road has American and UK distributors, but no release schedule as of yet. Variety posted the first Berlin review; unfortunately they didn't know what to make of the film... but in an interesting reversal of many Australian critics, they praised the "Reunion" segment (starring Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh) while faulting the title sequence (featuring Rose Byrne.)

Individual tickets for STC's Macbeth, which will star Hugo alongside Kate Box, John Gaden, and Melita Jurisic in an innovative reversed staging, go on sale 10 February, for those lucky enough to live in the Sydney area (or who have a lavish travel budget). Details at STC's website.

In Memoriam

As many of you know, the acting world was dealt a heartbreaking blow with the premature passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman earlier this week. Longterm fans will remember that Hoffman directed Hugo Weaving in the 2007 premiere production of Andrew Upton's Riflemind for the Sydney Theatre Company. (He returned to direct True West for the STC in 2010.) At the time, Weaving characterized working with Hoffman:  "Obviously, I've been an admirer of his acting work for many years, and it was a real delight to meet him. We just had a lovely meal [in New York, during the run of Hedda Gabler], and that was when it was decided we were going to do [Riflemind]....It's a very wonderful, challenging, difficult play,and Phil's an incredibly warm human being who is helping us to dig our way through the piece. He's a very gentle presence in the rehearsal room, always just asking himself and us questions. There's no pressure on us at all. We put enough pressure on ourselves as it is - all actors do - and he understands that." (as quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald.)

Hugo Weaving and Philip Seymour Hoffman take a break from Riflemind rehearsals, 2007 (Photo: Simon Alekna/Brisbane Times)

I'll be back with Berlinale coverage as soon as possible.

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[24 Jan 2014|12:21am]

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New Stills, Teaser For Hugo Weaving's Next Film Healing; Charity Voiceover; DVD Blu-Ray Updates [21 Jan 2014|08:33pm]

[ mood | mischievous ]

Apologies for the lack of new entries for a couple of weeks; I've been very busy, and there's been a shortage of verified news. Yes, there have been some rumors and a lot of gaseous speculation based on one unsourced, unconfirmed Hollywood Reporter article, but I don't dignify that sort of thing with coverage, and have no interest in following that particular Empty Juggernaut; I hope Hugo remains uninvolved, as he's stated on many occasions that he has no interest in playing any more cartoon villains in blockbuster productions... I suspect his American agent (whom Hugo has said he rarely contacts) might be trying to to stir something up, but Hugo's schedule would seem to make extended participation in this project impossible if the alleged filming dates stand. And that's all I have to say about that nonsense at present.


Instead I'm thrilled to report we finally have some new stills and a lovely new teaser (featuring a brief glimpse of Hugo) for Hugo's next-released film, Healing, which is directed by Craig Monahan and costars Dan Hany and Xavier Samuels. Pinnacle Films has posted a detailed synopsis at their website it addition to these pics and a revised version of the poster image which debuted last year.

Film Teaser (from Pinnacle's Facebook Page):

Here are the stills featuring Hugo, starting with my favorite:

is that Grimble? ;) Not sure who's more starstruck.
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The film will be released in Australia on April 4, coincidentally Hugo's birthday. No word yet on international distribution, but I hope that's also forthcoming and will be announced soon.

Charity Voiceovers
The second-most intriguing bit of recent news is that Hugo has recorded voiceovers for a video for the charity group Cambodian Childrens Trust, which "is a secular, non-profit NGO working to break the cycle of poverty in the Battambang region of Cambodia." According to their Facebook and Twitter accounts, the video will be released soon. But in the meantime they teased us a bit with this photo:

"We'd like to send out a huge thank you to Hugo Weaving for his support and also for recording the voice-over for our new video! (Stay tuned, the video is coming soon!)" via CCT's Facebook

Hugo has done work for and supported a wide variety of environmental, animal, arts and social justice causes over the years (in an understated, non-self-promoting way) and I'm very happy he's still at it. This project, healing and Australian films like Mystery Road (latest festival appearance: Jameson's Dublin Int'l Film Festival, 14 February; buy tickets here) and The Turning (which will screen at Berlinale next month) remain the norm for him, while giant genre blockbusters are, by his own reckoning, an occasional exception. Wish that entertainment websites and a lot of genre fans saw the larger picture: there's much more to Hugo than they imagine.

Also in Hugo News: Speaking of Mystery Road and The Turning, both will be released on Australian DVD/Blu-Ray next month, with Mystery Road out February 12 and The Turning February 24. Many Australian sites are now taking pre-orders, including EZYDVD and DVD Warehouse. Please note that these are Region 4 and you'll need a region-free player to accommodate them; if your computer has a DVD player, VideoLan offers free software that will play any region DVDs. Also, the Blu-Rays are Region B (not suitable for North American players). The Turning is available in Standard and Limited Edition DVDs. All versions of The Turning seem to include the full 180 minute cut presented in special screenings last year. Madman Video is also offering pre-orders, and features the most specifics on different DVD/Blu-Ray package options. (The Limited Edition and Blu-Ray seem identical.)

Unfortunately, US fans will have to wait awhile longer to see Mystery Road (unless you were lucky enough to catch it at one of last fall's film festivals, as I was.) The film isn't on Well Go USA's slate of releases for January through March. Let's hope they do release it properly (ie into cinemas) this spring. Also: no updates on a possible international tour for STC's Waiting For Godot in 2015. But Cate Blanchett will reprise her role in STC's The Maids (costarring Isabelle Huppert) at this August's Lincoln Center Festival.

Mystery Road will also screen on ABC1 in Australian on Australia Day (26 January) at 8.30pm. There are articles about the screening (and the film's place in the growing "Oz Noir" genre) at The Sydney Morning Herald (featuring an interview with director Ivan Sen) and The Age.

Hugo Weaving and Aaron Pedersen in Mystery Road

Several Hugo Weaving projects were cited in a variety of 2014's Most Anticipated Films/Theatre listings at the beginning of the year, including Healing (Crikey.com.au) and Macbeth (The Sydney Morning Herald).

No additional details about Strangerland (costarring Nicole Kidman and Guy Pearce) are yet available. The project is "eyeing a spring start" according to IMDb and other sources, but Kidman has to finish working on another buzzed-about film--Queen of The Desert (they might seriously want to rethink that title...) costarring Damian Lewis-- first. Hugo has much of July through September booked with STC's unique take on Macbeth, so they'll have to fit it in before then or significantly delay it. Also no word on The Mule's theatrical release, through the film's Twitter account suggests they're knee-deep in post-production.

I'l try not to go so long between entries next time. As you can see, Hugo Weaving has plenty on his plate this year and doesn't really need to go in for predictable villain roles in worn-out franchises. ;) 
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Hugo Weaving 2014 Calendar; Oranges & Sunshine Press Kit With Cast Interviews [29 Dec 2013|03:54pm]

[ mood | good ]

No hot breaking news items to report, I'm afraid; it being year's end and still the post-Christmas Holiday Season, everyone (including myself) has been more focused on family/friends time, taking a break and, when that is impossible, getting the deadline year's-end projects taken care of. ;) So far there's been no official word on an international tour for STC's Waiting For Godot but I'll keep you posted. Hugo Weaving's films Mystery Road and The Turning have made appearances in several Best of 2013 compilation lists in the Australian media, as has Godot.

2014 will feature the filming of Strangerland and, possibly, One Foot Wrong, and the release of Healing, The Mule and the final installment of The Hobbit trilogy, There and Back Again. There should also be wider international releases for Tim Winton's The Turning (which will be featured in next February's Berlinale) and Mystery Road. Hugo will return to STC this spring (well, technically, autumn in Australia) to play Macbeth. He might make his first public appearances of the new year at January's AACTA Awards, where he's up for Best Actor (The Turning) or the Sydney Theatre Awards, where the full cast of Godot is nominated-- but then again, he might just as easily not, as he hates competing against other actors, and walking red carpets. We'll have to see if his instinct to avoid celebrity hoopla-- or his instinct to help promote local industries he loves-- wins out.

I'm posting right now to ensure my 2014 Hugo Weaving calendar is up before the new year technically begins. This time around I didn't really have a theme and used a very simple template. The photos are some of my favorites from the past year, including stills from Mystery Road and The Turning, photos from Waiting For Godot and Hugo's appearances at film festivals. I was limited to horizontal images by the template, but that was still a very easy requirement to fill. It's all under the cut; I do print these out and use them as a real wall calendar each year.  But you should free to do whatever you like.

Hugo Weaving 2014 CalendarCollapse )
Though I'm still awaiting some packages which include articles for my Archive, I did recently receive the Production Notes for the 2011 US release of Oranges and Sunshine, which I've scanned and posted beginning here. (Note: click the LEFT arrow to scroll through subsequent pages. Also, each page is available in several sizes: right-click for full range.) The full set of notes is 19 pages long and features interviews with the three lead actors (Emily Watson, Hugo Weaving and David Wenham), director Jim Loach and most of the creative team. I'll post the Hugo Weaving and David Wenham interviews below, but if you enjoyed the film, the full set is worth a look. I've been happy to note Oranges and Sunshine gradually building an audience outside of Australia and the UK (though there too, obviously) via cable TV screenings and DVD/streaming. Starz/Encore has the US cable rights and continues to schedule the film periodically; it's also widely available on DVD, though subtitled versions remain a problem in some countries. (The US and UK issues don't even feature subtitles in English for the hearing impaired, though you can get captioning if you watch the film on cable.)

Oranges and Sunshine Production Notes: Hugo Weaving on Playing JackCollapse )

That's all for the moment. My thanks to all my readers, and best wishes for a peaceful and creatively fulfilling 2014. :) 

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Waiting For Godot Ends Sydney Run Amid Rumors of Int'l 2015 Tour; The Turning Headed For Berlinale [24 Dec 2013|05:11pm]

[ mood | thankful ]

The Sydney Theatre Production of Beckett's Waiting For Godot ended its run on December 21, but not before our tireless Australian correspondent Yvette got in another past-performance meeting with the actors, which yielded another lovely bunch of pics (which I'll include below) and a tantalizing suggestion that this might not be the final performance after all. I should first issue the caveat that everything I'm about to say has yet to be announced or confirmed by any official sources, and is very much still in the planning stages. But similar rumors about STC productions of Hedda Gabler and Uncle Vanya turned out to be true, and Yvette has proved herself a very reliable source who's had unprecedented access. ;)

So... according to Yvette, STC is planning a possible 2015 tour for this production of Waiting For Godot. Unlike earlier engagements for Hedda Gabler, A Streetcar Named Desire, Uncle Vanya, Riflemind and Gross Und Klein, which played only one or two US and European cities apiece (and no production went to both the US and Europe) this tour would be truly international, and might include Asia for the first time. Yvette noted London, Boston, Washington DC, Dublin and Hong Kong. No venues or specifics are available, as it's at least a year away. (As you already know, Hugo has at least one-- possibly two-- films to shoot in 2014, a production of Macbeth for the STC, and at least 3 films to possibly promote (The Healing, The Mule and the final Hobbit film). This could turn into 4 or 5 if he's part of the international promotion for The Turning and Mystery Road.  (He's also mentioned in some interviews (including one in The Australian) that he's taking a month off to visit Sicilymid-year, which might make him unavailable for some of this.). No details for any of these events are official, but it promises to be another exciting couple of years on the Hugo fandom front.

With that thrilling possibility in mind, here are Yvette's final batch of post-Godot visit photos of Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh. For now, anyhow. I suspect if this production tours she'll turn up in some of those cities. ;) STC has also posted a full gallery of Lisa Tomasetti's production photos to their Facebook page in case you missed any.

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Sydney Theatre Awards

Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh were both nominated for Best Lead Actor by the Sydney Theatre Awards, while their costars Philip Quast and Luke Mullins pulled off joint Supporting Actor nods. Most people who've seen the production would probably suggest the voters find a way to declare ties in both categories, as the success of any production of Godot so depends on the mutual strength of all four actors (and the utter co-dependence of the two sets of characters.) ;) Andrew Upton was also nominated for his direction of the production. In what has been a banner year for Sydney-area theatre, Cate Blanchett was nominated for her role in The Maids and someone named Harry Greenwood was nominated for Best Newcomer, for The Fury. The awards will be presented on January 20.

More details at the awards' home page, Limelight, Aussie Theatre, Playbill and The Sydney Morning Herald.

The last batch of reviews of STC's Godot can be read at Revolt and Queer Planet.

New Article Scans

I've received one of the Australian print materials deliveries I was waiting for, which included a batch of press clippings from Sydney-area newspapers for the past couple of months... this has given me an opportunity to make better-quality scans of some recent reviews and interviews, and include some articles I hadn't been able to buy digital versions of before. There will be more (including production notes for the 2011 US release of Oranges and Sunshine, which only arrived today) as I find the free time to scan them, but here's a first batch, ranging from a Hugo Weaving interview promoting Mystery Road from October to reviews of Godot. Also, a piece on how the Australian film industry is trying to adjust to the public's infuriating desire to spend their money on expensive, formulaic Hollywood product rather than often higher-quality homegrown films, which notes The Turning's successful "special release" as a possible alternative distribution model.

Australian Press Scans October- December 2013Collapse )
Tim Winton's The Turning

Speaking of The Turning, it will finally have its international premiere in a prestigious showcase: next February's Berlin Film Festival (Berlinale), where it will be shown out of competition as a Special Presentation, with specific dates and times TBA.  No announcements have been made as to whether Hugo, Cate Blanchett or any other cast members will attend to promote the film. Hugo did attend the Berlinale in 2006 to promote V for Vendetta, and attended premieres for The Turning in Melbourne (at MIFF) and Sydney (at a lower-key event with his director, David Wenham.) So it's certainly possible he might support the film's international release if it doesn't conflict with the shooting schedule for Strangerland... or any of his other numerous commitments. ;) (Since Hugo is notoriously disinterested in the commercial side of filmmaking and on record as hating most red carpet events, he could as easily opt out, but this is the sort of film he might make an exception for. We'll have to wait and see.) nyhow, you can read more details on the festival in The Australian, Screen Australia, Screen Daily, HitFix and The Hollywood Reporter.

In Other Hugo News

Del Kathryn Barton's portrait of Hugo Weaving was included in Blouin Artinfo's list of the Top 10 Most Memorable Australian Artworks of 2013.

Once and Future Hugo Weaving director Glendyn Ivin includes two Hugo Weaving films (Proof and his own Last Ride) in a recent list of his favorite Australian films on his always-entertaining blog Hoaxville. Still no further details on Ivin and Weaving's next project, One Foot Wrong, as of yet.

Peter Jackson posted the final The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Production Diary, which deals mainly with the film's score,  few days ago. No Hugo footage in that one, but as always, it's interesting on its own merits. And Elrond will definitely return for the series' final installment next year.

I wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday season... I look forward to sharing further Hugo News updates with you in 2014. (And will try to have my annual Hugo Weaving Calendar posted before then, along with some new scans.) Thanks to all of you!

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More Hugo Weaving Waiting For Godot Pics, Reviews; The Desolation of Smaug, AACTA Nomination [14 Dec 2013|07:04pm]

[ mood | content ]

Sorry for the lack of updates recently; it's a very busy, chaotic time of year. I do have a bunch of new fan photos and review excerpts from STC's production of Waiting For Godot to share. I'll also have some new print article scans to post before Christmas if all goes well. I still haven't received a copy of the Godot program a friend sent, but mail,this time of year often slows to a crawl... I do hope to have everything available as soon as possible. And I'll again thank Yvette and all the other fans who've shared their photos, reviews and comments for those of us unable to make the trip to Australia. You lucky bastards. ;) (Not that seeing Ian McKellen in the Two Plays In Rep incarnation of the same play doesn't make ME a lucky bastard. I know it does.) ;)

Waiting For Godot at STC

Here are the latest fan photos, both of the play and of autograph signings afterward. Yvette posted some of these a couple of weeks ago, after Hugo gave her the "best birthday present ever". (I'm inclined to agree.) The photos of onstage action were posted by Tomas Nemecek to Twitter/Instagram last week.

Hugo signs autographs after a performance of Godot      Photo: (plus next three) Yvette

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The Desolation of Smaug

After preview audiences (and Hugo himself) more or less confirmed my suspicions that Elrond didn't appear in the second Hobbit film, I decided not to rush off the the first midnight screenings. Nope, I waited a whole fifteen hours ;), taking in a Friday afternoon matinee which was surprisingly sparsely attended given it was still opening day. I did want to see the film before fans and critics has essentially spoiled every frame of it online, and was also uncertain of how much free time I'd have closer to Christmas when, perversely, I tend to have the most work hours.  I'm sorry to have to confirm that the rumors about Elrond are true, and Hugo isn't in the film. Cate Blanchett's Galadriel has what amounts to a voice cameo about ten minutes in, which is accompanied by a generic two-second image which looks cropped out of An Unexpected Journey footage. (She warns Gandalf about a growing threat, requiring him to separate from Thorin, Bilbo et al and meet up with Radagast for some Necromancer-related recon.) LOTR favorites Christopher Lee and Andy Serkis also don't appear, though Serkis did a lot of heavy lifting behind the scenes as a second unit director on the triology. Ian McKellen doesn't have nearly the amount of screentime he had in An Unexpected Journey, but does make a vivid impression with what he has.

All of this being said, the film is very much worth seeing and most of the actors deliver compelling performances. The pacing problems of the first film are resolved, though Jackson still tends to let action sequences drag on longer than they need to. The CGI is much improved, and the various obstacles and villains Bilbo & co meet up with are far more compelling this time around than the series of blobby, too-similar CG villains in AUJ.  I won't say anything else above the cut, as fans really should see this before they learn too much about it secondhand.

I saw the film in 3D, but not IMAX or HFR. The 3D is nonessential, but effectively done, non-gimmicky, and it does give one a Hobbit's (or Dwarf's) eye view of dimensional space, as the landscapes and even interiors seem immense.

More on The Desolation of SmaugCollapse )

Hugo Weaving Nominated For AACTA Award!

Hugo Weaving was nominated for Best Lead Actor in a film by the Australian Academy of Cinema & Television Arts Awards for his performance in the "Commission" segment of Tim Winton's The Turning. The nod surprised many because, though Hugo is a lead actor in that short film, it's a ten-minute segment in the context of a three-hour compendium. (Rose Byrne was similarly nominated for Best Lead Actress for her role in the title sequence.) It's hard to quantify working out nominations for such a unique project. I have no doubt Hugo is worthy, though I expected a nomination for Best Supporting Actor (Mystery Road) was more likely. And it's incredible (and infuriating) that Aaron Pedersen wasn't nominated for Best Actor for his role in Mystery Road, which he's in every scene of. (Hugo would probably say he wishes the nomination had gone to Pedersen instead of to him, as he's uncomfortable with the notion of competition for awards to begin with. I'd say they should have nominated Pedersen instead of the chronically overrated Leonardo DiCaprio in Baz Luhrmann's slicked-up candy floss remake of The Great Gatsby.) ;)

The Turning and Mystery Road were both nominated for Best Picture and, in another odd decision, Tasma Walton was nominated for Lead Actress for what was clearly supporting role in Mystery Road, though she did excellent work in her few scenes. (This makes the Pedersen snub all the more bewildering.) I think Hugo is unlikely to win this time, because he just picked up the Best Supporting Actor prize two years ago for Oranges and Sunshine, and now has four AFI/AACTAs, inspiring some wags to dub him The Meryl Streep of these awards. (The other three wins were for Best Actor,  for Proof (1991), The Interview (1998) and Little Fish (2005.) ) More cynically, I think both of these films are likely to be swept by The Rocket, a film with "underdog" cachet that is widely considered crowd-pleasing and socially aware. I'd love to be wrong and for there to be some prizes for both The Turning and Mystery Road. And for whoever wins Best Actor to say "Thanks, but really, Aaron Pedersen should be up here right now." ;)  Anyhow, for further details on the AACTAs, go to Inside Film, Film Ink and Deadline.com.  The Turning picked up a total of 7 awards, Mystery Road 6.

AACTA's webpage included a highlight reel from this year's awards, including footage of Hugo, Richard Roxburgh and Cate Blanchett (in a very tight dress) ;)

In Other Hugo News

You can read a new interview with The Turning producer/director Robert Connolly, in his first post-AACTAs nominations comments, at The Daily Review/Crikey. There are new, well-written reviews of Mystery Road at Moviecritic.com.au and . Though the film is still in some Australian cinemas, it will be available via iTunes on 14 February (in Australia only... no word yet on US distribution.)

According to the film's Facebook page, The Turning will be released on DVD/Blu-Ray in March of next year. No word on international distribution for that film either at present. You can also pre-order the digital version at iTunes (Australia only).

The website Quickflix selected both The Turning and Mystery Road among their top five Australian films of the past year, with The Turning at #1.

Aaron Pedersen spoke about Mystery Road in an interview for the 98.9 FM Podcast.

Nicole Kidman recently made her first public comments about next year's Strangerland, which costars Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce, and begns fiilming in Broken Hill early next year: "As much as I'm glad to play an Australian, because it's far less work for me, at the same time the film is really intense and the story is so strong, that's the lure."  (The Australian)

And Denis Antipov recently shared this distinguished portrait of Hugo (specific date unknown, but recent) on his Flickr feed. To see a larger version, click here.

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New STC Waiting For Godot Reviews, Pics; Night With The Actors Pics Hugo Weaving, Richard Roxburgh [26 Nov 2013|05:03pm]

[ mood | thankful ]

Sydney Theatre Company's production of Beckett's classic Waiting For Godot continues to draw sellout crowds and near-unanimously positive reviews rivaling those of the current New York production (which stars Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart.) More of Lisa Tomasetti's production images seem to appear with each new review, so I'll share the latest batch of both. (As always, click on links to read full reviews at sites of origin.) I also have two new print reviews to share under the cut.

Sunday Telegraph and Sun Herald Godot ReviewsCollapse )

New Review Excerpts:

David Kary, Sydney Arts Gude: "Comic?…Yes…but the humour is so dark…gallows humour…Black on Black. There is no let up. Desolation..

Sydney Theatre Company has put on a revival of ‘Godot’ as one of its showcase production of the year. Andrew Upton helms the production, taking over from Tamas Ascher who had to withdraw for health reasons. Three giants of the Australian theatre take the leading roles; Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh as the two tramps and Philip Quast as the sadistic Pozzo. The production is of the highest calibre. It’s just really tough going…"

Hugo Weavinbg as Vladimir, Richard Roxburgh as Estragon  Photo: Lisa Tomasetti

Sydney Outsider: "Anyone who has read the play or seen a sub-par production might be wary about going to the STC’s production. The exchanges between Didi and Gogo can become confusing, tedious, or a mixture of both. Here well-tuned performances let Beckett’s words shine with all the wit they deserve. The physicality the players bring to their roles makes the characters all the more compelling. I was so enthralled I soon forgot the over-powering stench of perfume coming from the big lady next to me....

At the outset of the play I expected the tale of two men waiting for hours might not resonate with an audience more used to constant titillation and instant gratification. If anything Didi and Gogo’s anxiety at their predicament and need for distraction was shockingly relevant for a modern audience desperate to feel connected constantly – a couple of them so desperate they refused to turn off their mobiles until they rang loudly in the final scenes....

Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh make a brilliant double act and to see them on stage together, masterfully traversing the line between comedy and tragedy as they tussle with the big questions of life, felt like a privilege...

I’m sure there will be critics who find fault in the play and Upton’s direction. Misery guts will say it pulls for laughs too much, while clowns will complain it’s too dark. To those critics I offer another quote from the play, this time from Estragon: 'People are bloody ignorant apes.' "

Luke Mullins as Lucky, Philip Quast as Pozzo  Photo: Lisa Tomasetti

Augusta Supple, Australian Stage: "Weaving’s Vladimir is upright, articulate and grand in his broadness. Roxburgh’s Estragon is a small aching poet, finely sketched and crumpled. Mullin’s Lucky is filled with ghostly agony, red raw urgency and a vicious streak. And it is Quast as Pozzo who fills the stage with a mighty and impressive voice – the central sun around which Didi and Gogo orbit. It is in this Waiting for Godot we see the wide reaching universality of oppression, the surrender of control – the desire for control and to be controlled, the need for direction and for the obedience of others – for the complicity in the shape of our own destinies....

Director Andrew Upton has shaped a playful and fluid Waiting for Godot, assisted by Associate director Anna Lengyel. This play "written by an Irishman in France, in a production conceived by a Hungarian by directed by an Australian" has a distinctly universal feel – as absurdist theatre is designed to have. We are the everyman in the everywhere, feeling the weight of the nothingness...

There is pleasure in this waiting. Pleasure found in wildly spoken recitation, in the deep, round vowels of Philip Quast's undeniable velvet voice. Pleasure in the familiar and complementary pairing of our dearly beloved Roxburgh and Weaving. Pleasure in all the moments to be found and paced with such loving care, by a caring directorial eye. Too easily Waiting for Godot can be a steely criticism on aging, on power, on pettiness – and in Upton's production we feel as much as we think. A rare balance is struck. "

Nicholas Harding's charcoal sketch of Roxburgth and Weaving, from STC's programme (via STC Facebook)

Rima Sabine Aouf, Concrete Playground: "Fortunately,[despite the absence of original director Tamas Ascher], they've pulled off a ripper of a Godot and absolutely one of the year's most memorable shows. The play is famous as the defining work of absurdism on stage, capturing the utter pointlessness of human existence in its form — in other words, not the most enjoyable comedy around. And yet, in this team's hands, it's a consuming, almost fun three hours...

Playwright Samuel Beckett was notoriously controlling over how Waiting for Godot was performed, and his estate continues that vigilance, meaning that you pretty much know what you're going to get with a production of Godot. Without huge leeway for interpretation, a lot of the interest comes from the pairing of actors, and Weaving and Roxburgh are sublime...

Not only are they heavyweights of Australian drama, they're hilarious together, with an easy chemistry and camaraderie that led Ascher to envisage them in the roles while they were all working on Uncle Vanya in 2011. Roxburgh's Estragon is the grumpy, sincere clown of the piece, while Weaving's more with-it Vladimir still has wide-eyed optimism and relish. Their performances are not totally but nearly naturalistic, such that their tete a tetes seem quite coherent; it might not be Beckett's ideal, but it is appropriately earthy for a contemporary Australian audience."

Photo: Lisa Tomasetti

Irina Dunn, Daily Telegraph Online: "The quartet of actors in the STC production bring their own Australian take to Beckett's ground-breaking play about the futility of life...

Weaving's insistently mischievous Vladimir makes a wonderful foil to Roxburgh's testy recalcitrant Estragon. Although Roxburgh holds his own in the verbal duelling between the two, Weaving's Vladimir is the more powerfully and authentically portrayed and grounds their interactions...

Although Beckett's stage directions require 'A country road. A tree. Evening.', a desolate industrial backdrop dominates the rear of the stage. The direction took into account the cavernous space of this setting, so suggestive of wide open Australian landscapes, and choreographed the two old tramps to fill the void with their antics...

Andrew Upton and his creative team at the STC have produced a very fine, definitively Australian interpretation of this classic - one which will not only satisfy its audiences but also provide a fitting ending to the 2013 season...

PS A suggestion for the STC. Isn't it about time the wonderful productions of the STC were made available on DVD for the world to see and appreciate."

Hear, hear! Hear that, STC? ;)

New fan photos from the Night With The Actors Q & A and stage door meetings:

Fan photo from Lauren Dwyer via Instagram: "Meeting the one and only Hugo Weaving after watching the brilliant Waiting For Godot"

Fan Photo from Danie Therese via Twitter/Instagram: "'Waiting For Godot' Actors Night. #HugoWeaving #RichardRoxburgh #LukeMullins #PhilipQuast #GoodNight"

I've saved the best for last... our Sydney Correspondent Yvette attended the Night With The Actors performance of Godot, which featured a Q & A with the actors, and had a prime vantage point for excellent photos. I'll share them with you below. She also met Hugo after the show and helped obtain an autograph for another fan... as always, the soul of generosity. My thanks again!

Curtain call: Photo by Yvette

Many more!Collapse )
Again, thanks to Yvette, and all others who've shared photos and impressions.

In Other Hugo News:

Healing just had its first "cast and crew screening" at Healesville Sanctuary, where some scenes were filmed, recently. The event was reported by Zoos Victoria;  Hugo Weaving was unable to attend due to a meeting that keeps being mysteriously rescheduled. ;) The film will have another advance screening for Zoos Victoria members early next year, in advance of its Australian release the first week of April.

Mystery Road is already scheduled for a TV screening early next year, according to TV Tonight. It will air on ABC1 (Australia) on 26 January. The film is still in theatres in some parts of Australia: new reviews (all largely positive) were recently posted at ABC North Queensland, SparlyPrettyBriiiight and Early Bird Film Society. No word yet on the DVD/Blu-Ray release schedule, or the specifics of its US release, slated for early next year. I'll share those details as soon as I know them.

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