Monday, July 27, 2009

PJ Hogan

Is PJ Hogan related to Paul Hogan?

I don't know.

I don't know anything.

I shall go and learn.

Oh crap. He's a film person.

Why do I say oh crap?

I realized yesterday that film people posts take me a long time. I end up wanting to watch all these video clips. Then I have to read interviews. And....Well, yesterday I worked from about 10-5 on the Naomi Watts post. I did have a few breaks in there, but they were short ones.

In comparison, I do some posts that take me only one or two hours.

Well, hopefully this won't take me all day.

Lord Wiki doesn't have a lot of information on Hogan. It might end up being a rather short post. We'll see....

Hogan is the guy responsible for Muriel's Wedding. He directed it.

Lord Wiki doesn't have a birthday for him, but does say Hogan was born in 1962.

He spent his childhood on the North Coast of New South Wales.

For school he went to Mt St Patricks College. The school is in Murwillumbah. I'm going to look that up on a map.

It's about two hours south of Brisbane. So it's close to Queensland.

Lord Wiki says Hogan had a rough time in school. He was bullied.

I was thinking about bullying last night because Tim, Jack, and I watched the first Harry Potter movie together. Harry Potter deals with all that bullying stuff in such a beautiful thought-provoking way.

For me, the Harry Potter series has two big lessons in terms of bullying and all that mean stuff.

1. Sometimes even good people resort to bullying behavior. All it takes is a sense of righteousness and superiority; plus the support and cheering of a friend.

2. There ARE bad people. They choose the path of evil for various reasons....joy in hurting others; quest for power; not wanting to be on the side of the weak; and/or a sense of entitlement.

The thing I wonder is this. When a bully watches or reads Harry Potter, do they recognize themselves in the villains? Do they sit there and think Hey, I'm like Draco Malfoy. Has anyone ever been changed through this thought process. Hey, I don't want to be the villain of my school. I'm going to be nice for now on.

Or are bullies in denial? Is it all self-perception? Do the bullies read Harry Potter and see themselves in Harry, Hermione, and Ron? Do they see their victims and targets as being like Draco Malfoy? Well, we HAVE to call him names and threaten him. He's bad. He deserves our wrath.

There are some people out there though who are so incredibly mean. I can't imagine how they'd fool themselves into believing they're the good guys. So what do they think when they read Harry Potter books? Maybe they just avoid reading them? Or do they look up to Malfoy as a hero? Do they roll their eyes at Dumbeldore?

Anyway, I should probably get back to Hogan.

In 1994, he did Muriel's Wedding. He would have been thirty-two at the time. The movie launched his career, and also it launched the careers of Toni Collette and Rachel Griffith.

According to Lord Wiki, the movie caught Julia Robert's attention. She chose Hogan to then direct My Best Friend's Wedding. That came out in 1997.

A few years later, Hogan made a film called Unconditional Love. For some reason, it wasn't released until 2003. What's up with that?

He did a remake of Peter Pan.

He did a pilot for a remake TV show of Dark Shadows.

He helped write a musical called American Mall. I've never heard of that.

He directed Confessions of a Shopaholic. Really? I didn't know that. I thought Jerry Bruckheimer directed it.

Well, I was wrong. Bruckheimer produced it.

Oops.

Hogan is married to an Australian film director named Jocelyn Moorhouse. She's responsible for the movie How to Make an American Quilt.

It's interesting that both Hogan and Moorhouse are Australians, and they both have movies with American in the title.

That's it for Lord Wiki. No, wait. Maybe I'll stay with him for awhile. There's not much in his entry for Hogan himself. But maybe I can find some information in his entries regarding the films.

We'll start with Muriel's Wedding. Hogan wrote the screenplay. There are some autobiographical aspects to it. I'm reading the plot here; refreshing my memory. And you know, it does deal with the whole bullying thing. The bullies in this movie are NOT like Voldomort or Draco Malfoy. They're not evil. But they do think they're superior to Muriel. They treat Muriel like crap. Now Muriel is socially awkward. And she's not a saint. She makes some selfish choices in the movie. Could we say she deserves what she gets? Do the mean girls dish out Muriel's rightful punishment?

I personally don't think so. I think the popular girls are bitches. But what I wonder is do they KNOW they're bitches? Do they recognize that in themselves? Well, they're fictional, so probably not. But how about real life mean girls? Do they know they're the mean girls, or do they look at the Muriel's in the world and think SHE'S the mean girl, not us.

Muriel's Wedding won awards and nominations. Hogan got an AFI nomination for best director and screenplay. Sadly, he didn't win. Who did win then?

Lord Wiki says the 1994 winner for best director and writer was Rolf de Heer for Bad Boy Bubby.

Ah! Rolf de Heer helped make that movie Ten Canoes. I've heard of that, but don't know much about it. I'll add him to my little list. He also made a movie adaption of Richard Flanagan's One Hand Clapping. I read that. I didn't realize there was a movie version out there.

Lord Wiki doesn't have much to say about Hogan's contribution to My Best Friend's Wedding. He talks mostly about the soundtrack. I did like that soundtrack. It might be the best part of the movie.

I'm reading about Unconditional Love now. Rupert Everett from My Best Friend's Wedding is in it. I guess I can conclude that Hogan enjoys working with him. Lord Wiki's description of the plot of Unconditional Love confuses me. I stopped reading midway through.

Maybe I'll learn about it elsewhere.

There's a few interesting things in Lord Wiki's entry on Peter Pan.

Here's something I didn't know. Princess Diana's boyfriend Dodi Fayed was a film producer. He was the executive producer of Steven Spielberg's Hook. He had planned to one day produce a movie version of the original Peter Pan story. As a way to honor his son, his father helped produce Hogan's Peter Pan. Because of this, the movie is dedicated to the memory of Dodi Fayed.

Another piece of trivia: Finding Neverland was supposed to be released that year. The producers of Hogan's movie, for some reason, held the rights of the original Peter Pan play. They refused to allow the Finding Neverland People to use lines from the play unless they waited to release their film. I guess they didn't want the two movies competing with each other. What? I guess the world can handle only one Peter Pan movie a year?

I love Finding Neverland and Hook. I haven't seen the Hogan version yet. I need to watch it.

American Mall was produced by the same people who brought us High School Musical;  but American Mall had much less success. It seems Hogan isn't too much responsible for the film. He didn't direct it, and he's only one of three writers.

Lord Wiki doesn't say much exciting stuff about Confessions of a Shopaholic. He says it got bad reviews. I knew that already.

I'm going to move onto IMDb now.

They say Hogan was born in Brisbane. I guess then later he moved down to New South Wales.

He helped out with his wife's movie How to Make an American Quilt. Hogan was the second unit director. I have no idea what that means.

Lord Wiki says the second unit team is the group that films the less important stuff. They film stuff like scenery and objects. That's pretty cool. I never knew that.

According to IMDb, Hogan's first job in film was as a writer for something called Getting Wet. It's a short film thing. It actually won an AFI award for Best Short Fiction.

I tried finding the movie on YouTube and ended up with The Hogan Family.

I miss 1980 TV theme song music.

In 1986, Hogan directed and co-wrote a movie called The Humpty Dumpty Man. The guy who helped him write it was one of the producers of McLeod's Daughters. I can't find much information about the movie.

Two years later, Hogan and McLeod's Daughters man teamed up again for To Make a Killing. In America, they called it Vicious. Is it my imagination, or are Americans often changing the name of things?

In the early 1990's, Hogan did some writing for TV shows. Then finally in 1994 he had his big break with Muriel's Wedding.

In 2007, he directed an American television show called Nurses. Eliza Dushku from Buffy the Vampire Slayer was one of the stars. I can't really remember Nurses. Did it not survive past the pilot? What channel was it on?

Well, here's a clip from the pilot.

In my opinion, it's pretty awful. I'm not sure if Hogan is to blame, or the writers and/or actors. Can a director rescue a program from bad actors? Can writers write something so good that even the worst actors can't mess it up? Is there writing so horrible that even the best actors can't make it okay?

I personally feel that the writers have the most influence on whether something is good or awful. Maybe it's because I write. I don't know. I've watched Days of our Lives and thought holy shit. These actors are TERRIBLE. Then the show fires a writer and suddenly the same actors seem very talented.

All, in all though....I think for the most part it's an even collaboration. A successful project needs to have good writing, actors, and directors.

IMDb lists some future projects of Hogan, but they won't let me read the details. Apparently you must sign up for their IMDbPro. It's a bit expensive. $12.95 a month. I might be able to justify that if I was trying for a career in film. I do understand our world's current economy issues. IMDb is a great website. They provide tons of wonderful free stuff. I don't blame them for wanting some money. I wouldn't mind donating a bit. I wish they had a cheaper kind of program...not for professionals, but for curious bloggers like myself. Maybe something for about $25 a year. They could still have the Pro thing as well. And that could provide even more goodies than the $25 a year one.

Anyway, the new upcoming Hogan Projects are Let's Make Friends and Chasing Vermeer. I'll try to see if any other websites are more forthcoming.

Well, Lord Wiki says Chasing Vermeer is a children's book. It's illustrated by Brett Helquist, the same guy who does the illustrations for A Series of Unfortunate Events. Chasing Vermeer is an art mystery type story. As for the movie, Lord Wiki doesn't say much. Brad Pitt is supposed to be the producer.

This website has information about Let's Make Friends. It's about a yuppie woman who is desperate for a best friend. A water delivery man decides to try and fulfill her wish.

I'm going to stay on this site because it has some good stuff about Hogan.

It says that Hogan had a very rough life in 1988. I did too. That was one of my bad years.

One day, Hogan sat at a Melbourne coffee place. He was quite blue. Across the street he watched women at a bridal shop. Suddenly, he wondered if one of the women might be an impostor. And that gave him the idea for Muriel's Wedding.

It's like the episode of Friends with the wedding dresses.

Hogan says, I wanted to put a character like Muriel on the screen...I'd had enough of the homogenised, beautiful leads characterised by an act of heroism. I wanted to see a character like I once felt - not good for anything, but with a desire to be noticed. She doesn't have a talent for anything except being herself. And I put a value on that.

I think that's what is so great about Muriel. She's imperfect. She's human. She feels REAL. Returning to the subject of Harry Potter.... The three main kid characters aren't saints. Hermione can be a know-it-all. She's arrogant at times. Ron has issues with jealousy. I can't think of much negative stuff about Harry Potter himself. Anyway though, for the most part, despite their minor flaws, the characters are close to perfect. Ron, Hermione, and Harry are heroes. They break the rules, but they do so in order to do wonderful brave things. Not only are they heroes, but (at least in the movie) they're cute and attractive. They're easy to love. In real life, most people are not like them. Ron, Hermione, and Harry are less than perfect. The rest of us are MUCH less than perfect.

One flaw that many of us have is the desire to be liked by those who treat us like crap. A while back, I wrote another post about Muriel's Wedding. I said it reminded me of the Eric Hoffer quote, People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them. Muriel wants to be liked by the mean girls. She wants to be accepted by them. It seems she'd rather have their love and affection than attention from the friend who truly cares about her.

I think this unfortunately common scenario explains why bullying thrives in schools, the internet, and the workplace. If we look at the situation as a hierarchy, I'd put the bully on top.

Right below him is the friends of the bully. These are the people that the bully is friendly towards. He likes them. They like him. They support each other.

Below that (on the third level) we have the people who WANT to be friends with the bullies, but have not yet been accepted. They strive to be part of the clique. They're eager for attention from the bully and his friends. Any positive feedback will be hungrily lapped up. They happily lick the bully boots. If licking the boots entails hurting those below on the hierarchy, they are perfectly willing to do so.

On the fourth level are the targets of the bully. At this point, they probably don't desire friendship from the bully. They just want to be free from the teasing, ridiculing, pranks, etc. The people on the fourth level often feel isolated. They may try to befriend those on the third level, get them on their side. But it will rarely work. The third level people don't want to be fed by nice people. They'd rather lick the boots of the mean people.

There are a few people who stay outside the hierarchy. Some of them are apathetic. They don't care about the bullies. They don't care about the victims. They want no part in any of it. Others involve themselves because they want to make things right. They're like JK Rowling heroes. Unfortunately, I think they're rare.

Am I one of them? I want to believe I am. I don't think I've ever been much accepted by the mean girls. I'm usually either the one that's the target, or I'm ignored by them. What I wonder is this. If the mean girls ever accepted me into their group, would I happily join? Is my hatred of bullies merely a reaction to their rejection of me? Would I like them if they liked me? Or would I stand up to them and say I don't want a part of your cruelty?

There is another variable, and that's the fact that sometimes we don't realize someone is a bully. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish between unwarranted cruelty and righteous assertiveness. This is especially true when we're hearing only one side of the story. Some people follow the bully because they don't realize it's a bully. They think they're following the hero of the story. I HAVE fallen for that trap, and I'm trying to be much more careful now.

But what if I DID know someone was a bully. What if I did know that they targeted people who were relatively innocent? If that bully adored me and showered me with attention, would I push her away? Or would I lavish the attention? If I chose the less decent route, would I admit this to myself. Hey, I'm friends with a bully. I'm a mean girl now. I'm finally part of a clique! Or would I be in denial? Would I convince myself we're not mean? Would I convince myself our clique exists for righteous purposes? Would I tell myself that our targets are horrid individuals who deserve to be ridiculed and harassed?

Here's an interview with Hogan. He's asked why he hasn't worked for awhile. I guess there was a lull between his movies. Hogan says he'd rather not work than make something he didn't love. I agree with that...as long as you have the money. I think sometimes those in show business get a little desperate. There's nothing wrong with making crap once in awhile. Naomi Watts did Children of the Corn. Besides, one person's crap is another person's treasure.

Hogan says he read all of the Shopaholic books and loved them. It's kind of sad that the films flopped. I wonder what went wrong.

Hogan says he can relate to the shopaholic thing. In his youth, he had some issues with credit cards.

They had a very tight budged for Muriel's Wedding. The original Nightmare on Elm Street had a low budget as well. And that movie did very well. A big budget is definitely not needed for a movie to be of quality.

Hogan and Julia Roberts argued sometimes on the set of My Best Friend's Wedding. Hogan talks about it in a very polite and respectful way.

He lives in both Australia and America.

One of his kids is autistic. He says because of this, the child can't go to public school. Don't they have programs in public schools for autistic children? I thought they did. Now I believe autistic children probably do better if they're homeschooled or in special small private schools. But it's not like they can' t go to the public school. Right? 


Maybe I'm wrong.

Here's an interview about Peter Pan.

He's asked if his directing style changes when working with kids. Hogan says,
No, it’s exactly the same. I treat the kids exactly like I would any other professional actor. I expect a lot from them, and I think they really appreciate that. Kids don’t like to be patronized.

That's fine. But I think both adult and kid actors want to be treated decently. Some directors go a bit too far to get that perfect shot. Some director's behavior borders on abusive. Did any of you see the making of the Exorcist? William Peter Blatty sounds downright scary at times. He put the actors through a lot of shit.

If Hogan treats the kids like he treats the adults, I just hope he treats the adults well.

Here's an article about My Best Friend's Wedding. It's the same website that had the article about Muriel's Wedding. The content is great. My complaint is their font is so damn small. What's the deal Urban Cinefile people?

Hogan says Julia Roberts wanted the movie to be a Julia Roberts movie. Hogan wanted it to be a PJ Hogan movie. Here we have two egos at battle.

They each wanted a different tone for the film. Hogan fought for his ideal tone, but he did let Roberts have control of HER character.

The website says the movie breaks the romantic-comedy convention because Julia Roberts plays a character that isn't always sweet and sympathetic. Like Muriel, she makes some selfish choices. I think that's what makes both movies interesting. Now I'm wondering if it was Hogan who wanted the Roberts character to be like that; or was it Roberts?

I love what Hogan says about the movie. I don't want to quote all of it. I'll try to summarize. He basically says that the character does really bad things. He wanted the audience to watch her angrily, but at the same time wonder if they'd be capable of doing the same things. Love can make us desperate. Love can make us selfish. Love can make us mean.

Hogan does say some nice things about Roberts. He says she's the heart of the film.

Hogan talks about doing two wedding movies in a row. He says weddings are great settings for drama. I've NEVER been to a wedding where there wasn't some HUGE drama that ruptured a family or a relationship; people behave very badly at weddings.

My wedding had some drama--nothing really huge though. I don't think any relationships were destroyed. It's more stuff we look back at and laugh about.

Anyway, I think I'm going to quit here. And it's not even one o'clock yet. Cool. I have a whole day ahead of me. I'm going to see if Jack wants to read some Harry Potter with me. Well, I asked and he said no. Maybe later.