Australia has produced a number of fine women directors including Jane Campion, Gillian Armstrong and Jocelyn Moorhouse. From her childhood, Moorhouse had been fascinated with narrative techniques an...
P.J. Hogan's Peter Pan follows J.M. Barrie's story almost to the letter. A girl on the brink of womanhood Wendy Darling (newcomer Rachel Hurd-Wood) loves telling her brothers John (Harry Newell) and Michael (Freddie Popplewell) stories of dastardly pirates as they sit in their nursery under the watchful eye of their St. Bernard Nana. Her 19th-century Londoner parents however believe the time has come for the young girl to grow up especially her father. Then a cheeky wild-haired boy named Peter Pan (Jeremy Sumpter) flies through the nursery window one night with his trusted yet jealousy-prone fairy Tinkerbell (Ludivine Sagnier) telling Wendy he can take her to a place full of adventure where no one ever has to grow up. She readily accepts the offer and with a few happy thoughts some fairy dust and her two brothers in tow she flies off to Neverland. (Not the ranch…the real place.) Once there Wendy encounters mermaids Indians and the Lost Boys (who refer to her as "mother") and gets the whole pirate experience in Peter's ongoing feud with arch-nemesis Captain Hook (Jason Isaacs). But Wendy soon becomes conflicted because on the one hand she likes hangin' with hottie Peter but on the other she misses her mother. She decides it's probably best to go back and grow up but in her hurry to leave she ends up in Hook's clutches. A rescue ensues. Swords clash ticking crocodiles are fed and fairies are saved as our clever fly boy zooms Wendy and company back to London on a giant pirate ship. But does he stay and grow up himself? Hell no he's a Toys 'R Us kid forever!
All the kid actors in Peter Pan are highly watchable and appealing with angelic faces peaches-and-cream complexions and pouty cherry lips. This is the first time Peter is being played by a real-life boy a fact much hyped by the filmmakers and 12-year-old Sumpter (Frailty) does his best to live up to the expectations. (He's soon to be swoon-worthy material for sure.) He's got a mischievous gleam in his eye and a great sly smile but he really lights up when he's looking into Wendy's adorable face. Hurd-Wood the first-time actress who plays the spirited girl earned her role after a long and involved casting process it's well deserved; she fits the typical English-girl profile perfectly and gets the hang of her craft quickly infusing the character with a natural cheerful energy. It's also refreshing to see the young actors play up Wendy and Peter's feelings of first love which prior films always hinted at but never fully realized. Isaacs in a dual role as the firm-but-loving Mr. Darling and the frightening comical lonely charming needy reprehensible Captain Hook draws on his experience at playing exquisitely awful baddies (The Patriot Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) and really sinks his claws into Hook. In a stand out supporting role French actress Sagnier (Swimming Pool) is really fantastic as the vivacious non-speaking Tinkerbell portraying the fairy's conflicted emotions with a silent-film over-the-top technique.
Director/writer P.J. Hogan (My Best Friend's Wedding) and his team try to distinguish their film from the other Peter Pans of the world by using all the technical and special effects wizardry at their disposal. Hogan says his Peter Pan is the way its author Barrie intended to be when he wrote it as a play over a 100 years ago--full of fantasy and wonder. In a way he's right and production designer Roger Ford and visual effects supervisor Scott Farrar take his vision and run with it giving audiences a very lush Neverland with waterfalls fluffy pink clouds crystal-blue waters and a gorgeous fairy world. But despite the bells and whistles there really isn't anything original and different in this Pan. Even its look at the dark side of Neverland has been done in Steven Spielberg's 1991 semi-sequel Hook which showed the dangers of Neverland. In this version lives really are at stake and the pirates are not cute and fun. Even the mermaids are mysterious and malevolent with scary faces and murderous intentions a far cry from the beautiful if somewhat mean-spirited creatures of the 1953 classic Disney animated adaptation another inescapable influence on the audience. When the crocodile draws near for example tick-tocking away the croc's signature tune from the Disney film comes immediately to mind. People may love those Disney films for those cutesy catchy songs but Peter Pan really is a good story. Heck it's a great story. But it's just been done.
Short premiered at Sixth International Festival of Films by Women Directors; success led to a book adaptation and later a 12-part TV series for which Moorhouse and her husband, P J Hogan wrote episodes
Wrote screenplay for "The Siege of Barton's Bathroom", a children's film
Made short film based on her screenplay for "The Siege of Barton's Bathroom"
Worked in Australian TV as script editor
Co-produced (with Lynda House) "Muriel's Wedding", written and directed by P J Hogan
Helmed the adaptation of Jane Smiley's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "A Thousand Acres"
Directed first American feature, "How to Make an American Quilt"
Raised in Melbourne, Australia
Made first short film "Pavane" while a student
Formed House and Moorhouse Films with Lynda House
Graduated from Australian Film, Television and Radio School
Hogan Moorhouse signed three-year, first-look deal with Sony
Formed Hogan Moorhouse Pictures with husband
Australia has produced a number of fine women directors including Jane Campion, Gillian Armstrong and Jocelyn Moorhouse.
From her childhood, Moorhouse had been fascinated with narrative techniques and had originally aspired to be a novelist or playwright. She has claimed that when she saw Nicholas Roeg's "The Man Who Fell to Earth" and Fred Schepisi's "The Devil's Playground" (both 1976), she was inspired to become a filmmaker. While attending the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, Moorhouse wrote and directed her first short film, "Pavane" (1983). Intended to be a Bergmanesque portrait of a homeless girl who accidentally stabs a real estate agent, "Pavane" was perceived as a black comedy. ("I had failed in my attempt to do something profound, but I had done something extremely, unintentionally funny" she told the NEW YORK TIMES.) After graduation from film school, Moorhouse worked for Australian TV as a script editor and writer. She wrote and directed another short film, "The Siege of Barton's Bathroom" (1986), which became the basis for a book and a 12-part TV series.
Moorhouse made her feature writing and directing debut with "Proof" (1991), a character-driven black comedy whose central figure is a distrusting, blind photographer (Hugo Weaving). A complex, multi-layered film, "Proof" examines unrequited love, male bonding (with a latent homoeroticism), misogyny, and, ultimately, trust. Martin, the photographer, is tended to by his housekeeper Celia (Genevieve Picot), who is in love with him and jealous of his growing relationship with Andy (Russell Crowe), a charming drifter who verbally describes the photographs Martin takes. Celia manipulates Andy into lying to Martin and then reveals the deception. Blessed with fine performances, a witty, inventive script and craftsmanlike direction, "Proof" won acclaim and a special jury mention in the Camera d'Or (Best First Feature) category at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival. It went on to win six Australian Film Institute Awards (the equivalent of an Oscar) including Best Feature, Best Direction and Best Screenplay.
With her producing partner Lynda House, Moorhouse produced the Australian comedy "Muriel's Wedding" (1994), written by her husband P J Hogan (whom she met when both were students at film school). An antic comedy about an overweight woman who is determined to leave her hometown of Porpoise Spit, "Muriel's Wedding" was cited as 1994's Best Feature by the Australian Film Institute.
Following the success of "Proof", Moorhouse received numerous offers to direct, but it took four years before she helmed her next feature, "How to Make an American Quilt" (1995). An ensemble drama boasting a cast of top-flight actresses (Ellen Burstyn, Winona Rider, Anne Bancroft, Jean Simmons, among others), the film, told in flashbacks that create a patchwork of the women's lives, essentially is about love and the reconciliation of the past with the present. As a sewing circle creates a wedding quilt, pivotal moments in family history are recounted. What might have been overly sentimental remained bracingly fresh. Moorhouse treated each flashback as a separate short film and utilized a wide range of styles and tones, from comic melodrama to tragedy. The film earned generally respectful reviews and a modest take at the box office. In 1997, Moorhouse helmed the disappointing screen adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "A Thousand Acres".
directed "Muriel's Wedding"; not to be confused with actor-director Paul Hogan of "Crocodile Dundee" fame; born c. 1963
born c. 1992
Australian Film Television and Radio School
"For me, making films is very much a musical sort of experience. I don't think film is truly visual. It has a lot in common with music, in terms of rhythm and appealing to an audience's subconscious"--Moorhouse quoted in THE NEW YORK TIMES, March 22, 1992