Saturday, 19 February 2011

An Englishwoman abroad - (Film News - 19/02/11)

It's been a funny week. On the one hand there have been a number of news stories that could fascinate the potential cinema patron in the future, on the other hand none of those are really jumping out shouting "I'm the best story! Put me first!" Lots to see, not necessarily lots to get excited about. We've also been inundated with casting news which gives a reason to go beyond the jump.

Lady who Went too Far

Tom Hooper and David Seidler are currently on top of the world. The director and writer of The King's Speech are likely to come away with a number of Academy awards next weekend, and for both of them the collaboration seems to be the highpoint of their careers so far. With that in mind it's hardly surprising they are planning to work together again with the biopic of 19th century explorer and humanitarian Lady Hester Stanhope (below).

The niece of British Prime Minister Pitt the Younger, she travelled extensively across the Middle East treasure hunting and offering sanctuary to refugees, often whilst facing powerful opposition for her unconventional lifestyle from home and the largely Islamic local tribes.

It's a great role for a woman so expect a powerhouse performer snapping up the central part before long, especially given the additional budgetary clout the project may have due to the below the line talent involved. From the director of Oscar winning... works wonders for accountants.

Read on for spies, submarines, gang violence, reincarnation choices and fat cats acting outrageously (it's OK, I don't mean Garfield).

Agent Zigzag

As well as the return of Bond we have this non-fiction counterpart that may just be hitting our muliplexes in the next few years. Based on the life of Eddie Chapman, with the titular codename, it will focus on how his British spymasters and conveyor belt of lovers learn whether to trust him. It's being written by Brighton Rock scribe Rowan Joffe, son of Roland, and might be directed by Mike Newell once he's completed Great Expectations.

Hunter Killer

Submarine based movies are few and far between even though there have been some excellent examples (Red October (right), Crimson Tide). Notably both of these involved gung-ho Americans and mysterious Ruskies, and so it is with this latest script likely to go into production. It focuses on an American sub commander and a Navy SEAL team that must rescue the Russian president and defeat a renegade admiral who’s attempting a coup, which sounds utterly barmy will have some underwater action scenes as well as (hopefully) some torpedo dodging action.

The Knife

Curiously connected to Agent Zigzag above in both it's true story premise and scope this project looks at the modern version of spies: the snitch, the criminal who wants to get out but can only do so with the FBI so sings like a canary. Based on the 2008 GQ article by Guy Lawson it focuses on a South Central gang member who turns states to such a great effect it sends it's leaders into a panicked attempt to kill all snitches. Kimberly Peirce (Stop-Loss, Boy's Don't Cry) is the slightly unlikely director attached.


Philip K. Dick's work is currently undergoing a film adaptation revival. Next month we'll see The Adjustment Bureau and a remake of Total Recall is in pre-production. Next will be his highly praised metaphysical comedy about death and salvation centering on a cabal of dead characters looking for their next physical manifestation. I'm not sure what the relevance of the aerosol can on the book cover is, really must read it, but if anyone can enlighten me I'd be very grateful. Michel Gondry is working on the script and planning to direct, let's just hope he's given enough rope to make a fun Gondry but not allowed to indulge his every whim a la The Science of Sleep.

Wolf of Wall Street

Formerly reported here as a potential project for Ridley Scott the biopic of investment banker Jordan Belfort has now moved to the schedule of Martin Scorsese an will mark his fifth film with Leonardo DiCaprio who's already signed on for the lead. However we will have quite a long time to wait as Franciscan monk movie Silence is still planned as Marty's next move.

Casting News

There have been another full wave of casting announcements made this week including Jude Law joining the love across class divide drama 360, Juliette Binoche and Matthieu Almaric will be helping to ruin Robert Pattinson's day in Cosmopolis, Rachel Weisz will learn to love her husband even after she becomes the first transgendered woman in Danish Girl. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard are the latest rumoured cast members for Dark Knight Rises, and talking of Batman alumni Michelle Pfeiffer is set to play the matriarch at the centre of the Dark Shadows with Helena Bonham Carter also set to join Tim Burton's movie (surprise, surprise). Colin Firth looks to be the next Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady and finally after sorting out her painful divorce (who says I don't pay attention to celeb culture) Halle Berry is back on for New Years Eve, although in a different role.

Anne Hathaway may be a better Catwoman than Halle Berry but she's got a lot to do to out Miaow Michelle Pfeiffer (above).

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