Heading to Market

Julianne Moore in Todd Haynes’s Far from Heaven (2002)

With Cannes just three weeks away, filmmakers, producers, and distributors are preparing to shop the projects they’ve been working on. As Screen’s Melanie Goodfellow reports, European distributor Wild Bunch will bring to market one of its largest slates in years. Among the standouts is Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s Tori and Lokita, the story of two teens who have each arrived alone in Belgium from Africa; they bond over the hardships of exile. Arnaud Desplechin, whose adaptation of Philip Roth’s Deception will screen in the festival’s new Cannes Premiere program, is already at work on Brother and Sister, featuring Marion Cotillard and Melvil Poupaud as siblings in their fifties, forced by the death of their parents to deal with one another years after they have fallen out.

Wild Bunch will also arrive with Dario Argento’s Dark Glasses, starring Ilenia Pastorelli as a woman seeking revenge on a serial killer who has blinded her and wiped out the family of a ten-year-old boy. Shining Sex will gather five shorts directed by Lucile Hadžihalilović, Sion Sono, Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, Bertrand Mandico, and Kleber Mendonça Filho. According to Goodfellow, the stories “range from a young man who falls in love with a mermaid to lovers who abandon themselves to sensual pleasure in a dance hall in Brazil.” Wild Bunch has already taken the French rights to Arnaud des Pallières’s Party of Fools, which is set in nineteenth-century Paris. The Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital housed an asylum for mentally ill women, many of whom were held there against their will, but Léa Seydoux will play a woman who checks in voluntarily in order to find and liberate her mother. The cast will also feature Charlotte Rampling and Cecile de France.

In other news of projects in the works, Todd Haynes—whose first documentary, The Velvet Underground, will premiere in Cannes out of competition—is preparing to shoot May December next year. Natalie Portman plays a Hollywood star who travels to Maine to meet the individual her next role is based on, a woman who sparked a tabloid scandal two decades ago when she married a man who was twenty-three years her junior. She’s played by Julianne Moore, who has worked with Haynes on Safe (1995), Far from Heaven (2002), and Wonderstruck (2017). Also lined up for Haynes is Fever, a biopic based on the life of Peggy Lee with Michelle Williams, who is also set to star in Kelly Reichardt’s Showing Up. Williams plays an artist who harnesses the chaos of her life to create new work for an upcoming exhibition. Deadline’s Justin Kroll reports that Hong Chau, Judd Hirsch, Maryann Plunkett, John Magaro, André Benjamin, Heather Lawless, Amanda Plummer, Larry Fessenden, and James Le Gros have joined the cast.

Todd Solondz hasn’t made a feature since Wiener-Dog (2016), but yesterday he announced that Love Child will be his “first movie with a plot and my first movie taking place in Texas. It’s fun and it’s sexy and it’s shaped by the Hollywood movies that made me want to become a filmmaker.” The story of a boy who aims to get rid of his father so that he can have his mother all to himself, the film stars Rachel Weisz and Colin Farrell, who were last seen together in Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster (2015). Lanthimos, in the meantime, is planning to shoot Poor Things later this year. It’s an adaptation of Alasdair Gray’s 1992 novel about a scientist in nineteenth-century Glasgow who saves the life of a young woman by replacing her brain with that of her unborn child. The cast is led by Emma Stone and has recently expanded to include Willem Dafoe, Mark Ruffalo, Ramy Youssef, and Jerrod Carmichael.

In other casting news, it seems that Taylor Swift has joined Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Rami Malek, Zoe Saldana, Mike Myers, Michael Shannon, Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Rock, Andrea Riseborough, Matthias Schoenaerts, and Robert De Niro in David O. Russell’s first feature since Joy (2015). It doesn’t have a title yet, and next to nothing is known about the story, but it certainly does have a cast.

Call Me by Your Name director Luca Guadagnino has added Michael Stuhlbarg, André Holland, Jessica Harper, Chloë Sevigny, Francesca Scorsese, and director David Gordon Green to the cast of Bones and All, which already features Timothée Chalamet, Taylor Russell, and Mark Rylance. Chalamet and Russell play troubled lovers on a thousand-mile journey through Reagan’s America in Guadagnino’s first feature to be shot in the U.S.

Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Judith Ivey, Sheila McCarthy, Michelle McLeod, and Ben Whishaw are joining Frances McDormand in Sarah Polley’s adaptation of Women Talking, Miriam Toews’s 2018 novel based on a real-life series of crimes, in which the women living in a Mennonite colony in Bolivia were raped by men from their own community. Reviewing Women Talking for the New York Times, Jennifer Reese called it “a wry, freewheeling novel of ideas that touches on the nature of evil, questions of free will, collective responsibility, cultural determinism and, above all, forgiveness. As Agata Friesen, an unflappable matriarch, puts it: ‘Let’s talk about our sadness after we have nailed down our plan.’”

The romantic comedy She Came to Me will be Rebecca Miller’s first fictional feature since Maggie’s Plan (2015). Set in New York, the film, which interweaves three love stories, will star Anne Hathaway, Tahar Rahim, Marisa Tomei, Joanna Kulig, and Matthew Broderick.

Yesterday we announced our September release of Gina Prince-Bythewood’s debut feature, Love & Basketball (2000). Her most recent film, The Old Guard (2020), is the sixth most-watched movie on Netflix, and currently in the works is Exoplanet, a sci-fi thriller based on a story by Minnie Schedeen. “The logline is being kept under wraps,” reports Deadline’s Anthony D’Alessandro.

Covering the Berlinale this year, we never got around to Maria Schrader’s competing feature I’m Your Man, which is a shame, because it’s a smartly told story about loneliness featuring intricately rendered performances by Dan Stevens and Maren Eggert, who won a Silver Bear for her efforts. Schrader is now working on She Said, a drama based on a book by New York Times reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor about breaking the Harvey Weinstein story. Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan are in talks to take the lead roles.

Fifteen years after Sideways, Alexander Payne and Paul Giamatti will work together again on The Holdovers. Giamatti will play what Payne calls a “curmudgeonly walleyed disliked history teacher” at a prep school, where he supervises the boys with nowhere to go over the Christmas holidays in 1970. After a few days, the only three people left as the snow piles up outside are Giamatti’s teacher; one student, “a real smart-ass troublemaker who’s fifteen years old and a good kid underneath”; and a cook who has lost her son in Vietnam.

Animator and director Sylvain Chomet, whose The Triplets of Belleville (2003) was nominated for two Oscars and who turned an unproduced screenplay by Jacques Tati into The Illusionist (2010), is working on The Magnificent Life of Marcel Pagnol, a biopic based on the life of the novelist, playwright, and filmmaker best known for Marius (1931), Fanny (1932), and César (1936). Pagnol’s Marseille Trilogy “represents almost a kind of founding myth from which a sizable chunk of modern French identity has been derived,” writes Michael Atkinson in the essay included in our box set.

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