In the Works: Jia, Eggers, and More

Zhao Tao (Mountains May Depart) and Liao Fan (Black Coal, Thin Ice) are set to star in Jia Zhangke’s new film, Ash Is Purest White,” a project formerly known as “Money & Love,” reports Variety’s Elsa Keslassy. “An epic love story set against the backdrop of China’s crime underworld, Ash Is Purest White opens in 2001, in a poor industrial city in China called Datong, where Qiao, a young dancer falls in love with Bin, a local mobster. During a fight between rival gangs, Qiao fires a shot to protect him and subsequently gets sentenced to five years in prison. Upon her release, Qiao goes looking for Bin to try and start all over again.”

Wang Quan’an (Tuya’s Marriage) “has signed to write and direct American Wall, a U.S.-set feature that will delve headlong into the current politically charged moment.” Patrick Brzeski for the Hollywood Reporter: “Dubbed ‘a tale of greed, vengeance, sex and ambition,’ the film is set around President Donald Trump's infamous U.S.-Mexico border wall. It will be Wang's first English-language film.”

“Ingvar E. Sigurðsson (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 2,Of Horses and Men) will play the title role in Hlynur Pálmason’s next film after the Locarno winner Winter Brothers,” reports Annika Pham for Variety. “Penned by Pálmason, White, White Day is a mystery thriller about grief, sacrifice and unconditional love. Sigurðsson plays Ingimundur, a responsible father, widower and small-town sheriff who has been off duty since his wife’s disappearance, two years earlier. In the process of building a house for his daughter and grand-daughter, he becomes obsessed with finding the man he suspects is connected to his wife’s disappearance.”

Annie Clark, known to most as St. Vincent, will make her feature debut with an adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, reports Variety’s Dave McNary. She’s “putting a twist on the classic Victorian age story of a hedonistic man whose self-portrait ages while he stays eternally young. In this project, the title character will be a woman.” David Birke, who wrote Elle for Paul Verhoeven, is writing the screenplay.

McNary also reports that Channing Tatum will produce and star in a film based on Melissa Del Bosque’s book, Bloodlines: The True Story of a Drug Cartel, the FBI, and the Battle for a Horse-Racing Dynasty.

Anya Taylor-Joy will likely take a leading role in Robert Eggers’s remake of Nosferatu, reports Variety’s Justin Kroll. The two first worked together on Eggers’s feature debut, The Witch (2015).

Documentary filmmaker Liz Garbus (What Happened, Miss Simone?) “has been embedded inside The New York Times” for Showtime since the day Donald Trump became president, reports CNN’s Brian Stelter. “The tentative title, subject to change, is The Fourth Estate. Showtime anticipates intense interest in the film, given the Times’ many scoops and scrapes involving the Trump presidency.”

Seifollah Samadian, whose documentary 76 Minutes and 15 Seconds with Abbas Kiarostami screened in Venice last year, says he hopes “to make two or three sequels,” reports the Tehran Times.

“Filmmakers like Pialat, Cassavetes, Pasolini, Ozu, Rohmer, Bresson, Godard, and Fassbinder are spiritual influences for me all the time,” writes Lina Rodriguez for the TIFF Review. “I learned a lot making Mañana a esta hora [This Time Tomorrow (2016)], and I’m excited to continue developing my voice and changing my playground, so I can take more risks and discover new things. I’m currently developing my third feature, which I will shoot in Toronto in Spanish and English, which reflects on this in-between space that me and so many other immigrants inhabit.”

The Guardian is among the many sources reporting that “Daniel Craig has revealed the worst kept secret in the film world—he will play James Bond again.” Andrew Pulver suggests that “recent political events may well have given Bond—and Craig himself—a new project: can 007 slay the specter of Brexit? If any cultural phenomenon summed up the mind-state of your fervent leaver, James Bond—with his sharp-suited white-man privilege, bred-in-the-bone patriotism, and British-chap derring-do—is surely it. Will Craig distance 007 from the flag-waving, union jack-parachute version? Or will the series sail serenely on, like the QE2, into the Atlantic sunset?”

Gremlins 3 is finally real and original screenwriter Chris Columbus has written a script,” reports Fred Topel for /Film. “Columbus said his script asks a question which may have been on fans’ minds since the original: if all the gremlins come from getting Gizmo wet and feeding his mogwai offspring after midnight, should Gizmo be eliminated?”

“Justin Simien, who wrote and directed the lauded Sundance indie Dear White People which he turned into the Netflix series, will next write and direct Bad Hair,” reports Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr. “Paralleling the rise of New Jack Swing in 1989, Bad Hair is a horror satire that follows an ambitious young woman who gets a weave in order to survive the image obsessed world of music television. Her professional success comes at a higher cost than anticipated, however, when she discovers her new hair may have a mind of its own.”

Also, Amy Pascal and Rachel O’Connor “have acquired film rights to the Mark Sullivan novel Beneath a Scarlet Sky, with [Tom] Holland attached to play the lead role. This comes on a week when the book emerged as a top seller on the Amazon lists. It is the story of a forgotten WWII hero.”

And “Paramount Pictures just landed itself a potential new global franchise. The studio will team with IM Global and James Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli for The Rhythm Section, a female global espionage thriller to star Blake Lively.” Reed Morano, director and executive producer of The Handmaid’s Tale, will direct.

Cate Blanchett may join Jack Black in Eli Roth’s The House with a Clock in Its Walls, an adaptation of John Bellairs’s 1973 gothic horror novel, reports Dino-Ray Ramos for Deadline.

William Friedkin will be the voice of Dr. Kenneth Humphries in “Treehouse of Horror XXVIII,” the forthcoming episode of The Simpsons set to air on October 22. Andy Swift has a few details at TVLine.

“Michael Sheen and David Tennant have been set to star in Amazon’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s novel Good Omens,” reports Linda Ge for the Tracking Board. “Apocalypse is near and Final Judgment is set to descend upon humanity. Aziraphale [Sheen], a somewhat fussy angel, and Crowley [Tennant], a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming war.”

Haifaa Al-Mansour’s Wadjda (2012) was the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first feature-length film made by a female Saudi director. Her followup will be Mary Shelley, premiering next month at the Toronto International Film Festival. And next, she’ll direct Sanaa Lathan and Ernie Hudson in Nappily Ever After, reports Amanda N’Duka for Deadline. It’s about a women who “begins to realize that she was living the life she thought she was supposed to live, not the one that she really wanted.”

“Jimmy Roselli was known as ‘the other Sinatra,’ but the Mob and Frank Sinatra, his lifelong rival crooner, killed off his chances of finding the fame that he deserved,” writes Dalya Alberge for the Guardian. “Now, six years after his death, this unheralded singer is about to receive due recognition with a film in which he will be portrayed by John Travolta. David Evanier, who is directly involved with the film as the author of Roselli’s authorized biography, confirmed the casting on Tuesday.”

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