In the Works

The Daily — Feb 23, 2021
Peggy Lee

A few weeks ago, we mentioned that Kelly Reichardt and Michelle Williams are reteaming for a fourth feature together after Wendy & Lucy (2008), Meek’s Cutoff (2010), and Certain Women (2016). Working once again with cowriter Jonathan Raymond, Reichardt is preparing to shoot Showing Up this summer. Williams will play an artist who harnesses the energy and chaos of a life juggling family, friends, and work as she readies a major exhibition.

Williams has now also signed on to play Peggy Lee in Todd Haynes’s Fever, a project that has been winding its way through various stages of development for about a decade now. Nora Ephron wrote the original draft of the screenplay, and for a while, Reese Witherspoon was to have played the singer, songwriter, and composer who wrote a new arrangement of Little Willie John’s “Fever” and added a few lyrics to make it her signature song. “Peggy Lee is such an extraordinary and unique figure in mid-century American history and jazz,” Haynes told Little White LiesDavid Jenkins back in 2015. “She combines the artificial with the genuine, the hot with the cold, the minimalist with the maximalist, she’s just this amazing combination of things. The film will try and express some of that.”

Williams has appeared in Haynes’s I’m Not There (2007) and Wonderstruck (2017), and over the past few weeks, we’ve been hearing about several further promising reunions. One of the most intriguing has to be a project that Viggo Mortensen teases in his conversation with Gabriella Paiella in GQ. David Cronenberg appears briefly in Mortensen’s Falling, and of course, the two have worked together on Cronenberg’s A History of Violence (2005), Eastern Promises (2007), and A Dangerous Method (2011). Currently, they’re planning to shoot a new film this summer that Cronenberg wrote several years ago. “Now he’s refined it,” says Mortensen. “I would say, without giving the story away, he’s going maybe a little bit back to his origins.” This one will be “almost like a strange film noir story. It’s disturbing and it’s good.”

Tony Leung and Andy Lau have both appeared in Wong Kar Wai’s Days of Being Wild (1990), but they’re best known as a team for facing off in Andrew Lau and Alan Mak’s Infernal Affairs movies in the early 2000s. Mak wrote those films with Felix Chong, who has cast Leung and Lau in his tenth feature as a director, Once Upon a Time in Hong Kong. It’s a boom and bust story, a tale of high finance and murder “reportedly inspired by the fate of the Carrian Group, a Hong Kong conglomerate that grew rapidly in the 1980s before collapsing in scandal shortly thereafter,” notes Variety’s Rebecca Davis.

Poor Things, based on the 1992 novel by Alasdair Gray, will reunite Yorgos Lanthimos with The Favourite (2018) screenwriter Tony McNamara and Emma Stone, who costarred with Olivia Colman. Stone will play Bella Baxter, who drowns herself to escape her abusive husband only to have the brain of her unborn child implanted in her body. Christos Nikou, who has worked as an assistant director for Lanthimos and Richard Linklater, will follow up on his directorial debut, Apples (2020), with Fingernails, his first feature in English. Deadline’s Amanda N’Duka reports that Carey Mulligan will star as a woman who “secretly embarks on a new assignment working at a mysterious institute designed to incite and test the presence of romantic love in increasingly desperate couples.”

Luca Guadagnino and Timothée Chalamet, the director and star of Call Me by Your Name (2017), have their eyes on Bones & All, a love story and a horror movie that would costar Taylor Russell, who won a breakthrough actor Gotham Award for her turn in Trey Edward Shults’s Waves (2019). David Kajganich, one of the cowriters behind Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash (2015) and Suspiria (2018), is working on the screenplay. Another horror movie in the works is The Black Phone, which will reunite director Scott Derrickson and Ethan Hawke, who first worked together on Sinister (2012). Based on a short story by Joe Hill, the son of Stephen King and brother of Owen King, The Black Phone will center on a man locked in a basement stained with the blood of half a dozen murdered children. The dead call at night.

Chloé Zhao, whose Nomadland is currently leading the parade through this year’s awards season, is setting up a project at Universal inspired by one of the studio’s most iconic characters, Dracula. Zhao’s vampire story, though, will blend in elements of science fiction and the western. Will Ari Aster follow up on Hereditary (2018) and Midsommar (2019) with another horror movie? All that Deadline’s Justin Kroll has for us so far is word that Disappointment Blvd. will star Joaquin Phoenix and that the production for A24 has been described as “an intimate, decades-spanning portrait of one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time.”

Adaptations

More horror and another reunion: Darren Aronofsky and Jared Leto, who first worked together on Requiem for a Dream (2000), are taking on Adrift, the tale of an abandoned and haunted yacht based on a short story by Koji Suzuki, who launched a few franchises with his Ring novels. We can anticipate more scares from Edgar Wright, who’s working on a more faithful adaptation of Stephen King’s 1982 novel The Running Man than the one delivered in 1987 by director Paul Michael Glaser and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Writer and journalist Aravind Adiga won the Man Booker Prize in 2008 for his debut novel, The White Tiger, and his old college friend Ramin Bahrani directed the adaptation that premiered on Netflix earlier this year. Now Bahrani is adapting Adiga’s latest novel, Amnesty, and again, Netflix is on board. Amnesty is the story of an undocumented immigrant in Australia who faces a dilemma. If he turns in the man who has killed his employer, he’ll be deported.

A few more adaptations call out for mentions. Takeshi Kitano is setting up what may be his last film as a director, Neck, which will be based on his own 2019 novel about the assassination of warlord Oda Nobunaga in 1582. Lena Dunham has written and will direct Catherine, Called Birdy, a comedy adapted from Karen Cushman’s 1994 children’s novel about a teenager trying to avoid an arranged marriage in medieval England. And Gillian Robespierre will direct Claire Foy in an adaptation of Melissa Broder’s The Pisces, the story of a woman who becomes entranced by a merman. Reviewing the debut novel for the Guardian in 2018, Carrie O’Grady called it “a knife-tip dissection of twenty-first-century anomie.”

Updates

We’ve been tracking the development of Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon for some time now. The film is based on David Grann’s book about the FBI investigation into a series of murders of wealthy Osage people in Oklahoma in the early 1920s, and the cast was to have been led by Leonardo DiCaprio, who now steps aside to take on a secondary role alongside Robert De Niro. Jesse Plemons is taking over as FBI agent Tom White, which means that he’s had to decline the leading role in Jordan Peele’s mysterious third feature after Get Out (2017) and Us (2019). All that’s known so far about Peele’s film is that it will be released in the summer of 2022 and that it will star Keke Palmer (Hustlers).

Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne are planning to shoot Tori and Lokita, which centers on two friends who arrive in Belgium from Africa, this summer. Claire Denis, in the meantime, has wrapped production on Fire, a story centered on a volatile love triangle starring Juliette Binoche, Vincent Lindon, Mati Diop, Gregoire Colin, Bulle Ogier, and Issa Perica. And The Eternal Daughter, which Joanna Hogg secretly shot in Wales last year with Tilda Swinton and Carly-Sophia Davies, has landed at A24.

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