Up Ahead

The Daily — Jan 22, 2021
Tilda Swinton and Honor Swinton Byrne in Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir (2019)

This week is all about fresh starts, and that goes for movies as well. With production after production proving that movies can be made during a pandemic, the pace of breaking stories on projects in the works has picked up again. Let’s begin with news from across the Atlantic. One of the most anticipated films of the year is Terence Davies’s Benediction, a biopic based on the life of poet Siegfried Sassoon, and as Jordan Raup reports at the Film Stage, Davies is already in preproduction on his next film, The Post Office Girl, an adaptation of the novel by Stefan Zweig.

Zweig, the inspiration behind Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), wrote the novel in the wake of the First World War, but it wasn’t published until 1982, forty years after he and his wife Lotte committed suicide. Christine, Zweig’s post office girl who is plucked from her war-ravished Austrian town by an aunt from America who shows her unimaginable luxury in Switzerland before abandoning her, also goes looking for someone to join her in a suicide pact. Reviewing the novel for the Telegraph in 2009, Lorna Bradbury found it “remarkable for the bleak interior worlds it depicts—of anxiety, self-doubt, depression, and disintegration.”

The Souvenir: Part II, another film we’re anxiously awaiting, is not the only project Joanna Hogg has been working on with Tilda Swinton. Hogg has evidently been developing The Eternal Daughter off and on since 2008, and shooting with Swinton, Joseph Mydell, and Carly-Sophia Davies has recently wrapped in Wales. For the time being, that’s all that’s known about the film. Swinton, though, will soon be working in Australia with cinematographer Christopher Doyle on his directorial debut, Immunodeficiency. Cowritten with Chinese actress and poet Hei Wen, Doyle’s film focuses on an apiologist (a scientist who studies bees) who is kidnapped by a young woman. “It’s about ecological issues,” Doyle tells Robert Moran in the Sydney Morning Herald. “It’s about bees. Ninety per cent of what we eat only exists because of bees.”

Back in the UK, Danny Boyle has set up a six-part limited series based on Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones’s memoir, Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol. Toby Wallace (Babyteeth) will star as Jones and Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones) will play Pamela Rooke, who left her coastal town in East Sussex for London to become Jordan Mooney and work with Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood in their landmark boutique, Sex. Deadline’s Jake Kanter lists the rest of the cast: Anson Boon as John Lydon, Louis Partridge as Sid Vicious, Jacob Slater as Paul Cook, Fabien Frankel as Glen Matlock, Dylan Llewellyn as Wally Nightingale, Sydney Chandler as Chrissie Hynde, and Emma Appleton as Nancy Spungen.

Adam Curtis, known for such multipart essay films as The Century of the Self (2002) and The Power of Nightmares (2004), has a new one set to begin rolling out on February 11. According to the BBC, Can’t Get You Out of My Head: An Emotional History of the Modern World will explore “the strange roots of modern conspiracy theories, the history of China, opium and opioids, the history of artificial intelligence, melancholy over the loss of empire, and love and power.” Curtis will also ask “whether modern culture, despite its radicalism, is really part of the new system of power.”

Reuniting with Léa Seydoux and Gaspard Ulliel, the stars of his 2014 film, Saint Laurent, Bertrand Bonello will conjure a near future in which emotions are perceived as threats in La bête. Leonard Pearce reports at the Film Stage that Seydoux will play a woman who aims to technologically purify herself of feelings while being immersed in past lives and meeting a man with whom she can’t help but sense a powerful connection.

Im Sang-soo, the Korean director known for his controversial 2005 film, The President’s Last Bang, and his 2010 remake of Kim Ki-young 1960 classic, The Housemaid, will make his Hollywood feature debut with an adaptation of Richard Vine’s Soho Sins. Vine, the managing editor of Art in America, spins a noirish tale of murder set against the backdrop of the New York art scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s. “It’s a page-turner,” Im tells Screen’s Jean Noh.

An adaptation of Don DeLillo’s 1985 novel White Noise is a daunting prospect, and at least two attempts have been thwarted, Barry Sonnenfeld’s in 1999 and Michael Almereyda’s in 2016. But as Nick Newman reports at the Film Stage, Noah Baumbach has teamed up with Netflix to see his through. Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig will play Jack and Babette, the parents of six children. An “Airborne Toxic Event” forces the family to confront their mortality.

Two further adaptations will be based on unusual sources. Darren Aronofsky is taking on Samuel D. Hunter’s 2012 play, The Whale, in which a six-hundred-pound man—to be played by Brendan Fraser—tries to reconnect with his seventeen-year-old daughter. Variety’s Brent Lang reports that A24 is holding global rights. And Kantemir Balagov, the twenty-nine-year-old Russian filmmaker who won an Un Certain Regard award in Cannes for directing Beanpole in 2019, will direct the pilot episode of The Last of Us, an HBO series based on the hit video game. The Hollywood Reporter’s Borys Kit has more on the dystopian adventure set twenty years after the collapse of civilization and written by Craig Mazin, the creator of the acclaimed HBO series Chernobyl.

We’ll wrap for now with a film we know nothing about other than that David O. Russell is currently shooting it in California and that Deadline’s Amanda N’Duka has confirmed that the cast is mightily impressive: Robert De Niro, Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Rami Malek, Zoe Saldana, Mike Myers, Timothy Olyphant, Michael Shannon, Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy, Andrea Riseborough, Matthias Schoenaerts, and Alessandro Nivola.

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