Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What is That Director Up To? Part II

Continued from the last post...

Stephen Frears - Next up for him is "Lay the Favorite, Take the Dog," a gambling film with Rebecca Hall and Bruce Willis. The plot synopsis over here makes is sound like "21" without the racebending. Frears hasn't had the greatest track record since the success of "The Queen," but he was always great with thrillers, like "Dirty Pretty Things" and "The Grifters," and I'm glad we're getting another one from him. "Lay the Favorite" should reach theaters sometime next year.

Terry Gilliam - Still working on "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote," now with Robert Duvall instead of Jean Rochefort. Pray for him.

Paul Greengrass - I was worried that Greengrass would be stuck in director jail after the poor performance of "Green Zone." But after a couple of false starts and flirtations with projects like the "Fantastic Voyage," "Cleopatra," "Rush," and "Memphis," it looks like Greengrass may commit to "Maersk Alabama," about a scuffle between Somali pirates and Tom Hanks. Another "Bourne" movie is currently in the pipeline, but Greengrass doesn't have anything to do with it. Neither does Matt Damon for that matter.

Jim Jarmusch - One of the patron saints of American independent cinema is still around and kicking. His latest film has no title yet, but Tilda Swinton, Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska will be in it playing vampires. Yes, vampires.

Spike Jones and Charlie Kaufman - These two are up to something. Nobody knows what, and as of December when they were making the rounds with investors there wasn't even a script yet, but those two are definitely up to something.

Neil Jordan - The man is busy with the "Borgias" miniseries right now, but his next project looks like it's going to be science-fiction film "Broken Dream" with Ben Kingsley, which has a long and interesting history involving John Boorman and River Phoenix that I won't get into here. Jordan is also attached to a bunch of other projects including vampire drama "Byzantium, horror film "Heart-Shaped Box," the supernatural "Our Lady of the Forest," and an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book."

Ang Lee - They're finally making "Life of Pi"! It already has a release date slated for next December! Yay! And then I remember Ang Lee's brain-spraining "Hulk" movie, and the fact that the studio demanded that this be shot for 3D, and I calm down. Still, "Life of Pi," an extreme survival story based on the beloved novel by Yann Martel, is one of those projects that has been in the works for what feels like forever, tossed from director to director until Lee was attached back in 2009. It's good to see it going forward at last.

Baz Luhrmann - I don't know how, especially after "Australia" underperformed, but Luhrmann assembled a killer cast for his new adaptation of "The Great Gatsby, with Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, and Isla Fisher in the key roles. What cinephile could say no to that? However, I have to wonder if Luhrmann is going to do a straight adaptation, or sex it up the way he did with "Moulin Rouge!" and "Romeo + Juliet." "Gatsby" starts filming in July, and will be released in 2012.

Terrence Malick - He's hard at work on a new movie with Ben Affleck. Shooting is finished, which means it should reach theaters in, oh, six to twelve years.

Nicolas Winding Refn - "Drive" with Ryan Gosling got great press at Cannes, where Refn picked up a Best Director prize. On his growing list of upcoming projects, is the remake of "Logan's Run," another of those films that seems to be perpetually in pre-production and just on the verge of getting made. And from recent comments, he seems to be making a play for the notoriously problematic "Wonder Woman" franchise too. You have to admire the man for his ambitions. And "Bronson."

Jason Reitman - Two upcoming films to watch out for. One is a comedy, "Young Adult" with Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt, which will reunite Reitman with "Juno" scribe Diablo Cody. It's expected to land sometime in the fourth quarter of 2011. Then next year he'll direct, "Labor Day," a thriller with Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin that sounds very different from the dark comedies and wry satire he's done so far. This could be a good chance for Reitman to stretch a little and see what he's capable of. Fingers crossed.

I'll wrap up with Part III in the next post.

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