Big Plans for Big Ideas

Lynne Ramsay, Ekaterina Samsonov, and Joaquin Phoenix on the set of You Were Never Really Here (2017)

Occasionally, Twitter has its moments. Yesterday, director Mary Lambert—who cut her teeth making music videos for Madonna in the 1980s before launching a career in horror with her 1989 adaptation of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary—sent out a call. She’s got a screenplay for a “dark comedy,” a “wild, funny, terrifying carnival ride” that’s a “redneck descendant of Raising Arizona and Trainspotting.” And she’s looking for financing. Producer Lynda Obst (Interstellar) was among the many to reach out immediately.

Another project in the early stages of development is Polaris, which would reunite director Lynne Ramsay with Joaquin Phoenix, who starred in Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here (2017). At the Film Stage, Jordan Raup reports that when Ramsay was in Valencia a few days ago, she told El Español that, while she’ll say nothing more about Polaris other than that it will costar Phoenix’s real-life partner, Rooney Mara, it’s always “difficult” when “you come up with an original idea like this” to get a project off the ground. Even so, “it’s impossible not to get excited when you’re preparing a movie with Joaquin.” He’s “crazy, but he’s the best actor I’ve ever met.”

Phoenix will also headline Ari Aster’s Disappointment Blvd., and he’s just been joined by Nathan Lane, Patti LuPone, Amy Ryan, and Kylie Rogers. “Project details are being kept under wraps,” reports Deadline’s Justin Kroll, “but the plot is described as an intimate, decades-spanning portrait of one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time.”

Also in the Works

Tsui Hark, Chen Kaige, and Dante Lam will codirect the most expensive Chinese production ever, The Battle at Lake Changjin. The story of one of the most crucial face-offs in the Korean War, in which Chinese troops forced the UN and the U.S. to retreat from northwest Korea in 1950, will star Wu Jing (Wolf Warrior 2, The Wandering Earth), Jackson Yee (Better Days), and Duan Yihong (The Looming Storm). In the Hollywood Reporter, Patrick Brzeski notes that the $200 million budget is “even more impressive given how far production dollars tend to stretch in Beijing’s un-unionized film industry—and for the rare collaboration behind the camera of three of China’s most in-demand directors.”

Screen’s Melanie Goodfellow reports that Mia Hansen-Løve is currently shooting One Fine Morning in Paris and aims to wrap it up before her latest feature, Bergman Island, premieres in competition in Cannes. The story of a woman raising an eight-year-old daughter while caring for her ailing father stars Léa Seydoux, who will appear in four films in Cannes this year: Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, Bruno Dumont’s France, Ildikó Enyedi’s The Story of My Wife, and Arnaud Desplechin’s Deception. Nicole Garcia, Melvil Poupaud, and Pascal Greggory round out Hansen-Løve’s cast.

Vanessa Kirby is nearly as busy as Seydoux. Last fall, she starred in two films competing in Venice, Mona Fastvold’s The World to Come and Kornél Mundruczó and Kata Wéber’s Pieces of a Woman. Italian Studies, directed by Adam Leon (Gimme the Loot) and starring Kirby as a British writer suffering a bout of amnesia as she wanders the streets of New York, premiered at Tribeca a couple of weeks ago. Now she’s joining Laura Dern and Hugh Jackman in The Son, Florian Zellner’s follow-up to last year’s The Father. Kirby will play a new mother whose life is turned upside down when her partner’s ex-wife shows up with their troubled teenage son.

Kirby is also joining Jake Gyllenhaal in Suddenly, an adaptation of Isabelle Autissier’s 2015 novel Soudain, seuls, in which a couple traveling in the South Atlantic become stranded on an island. Thomas Bidegain—who directed Les cowboys in 2015 but is probably better known for his work on the screenplays for Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet (2009), Rust and Bone (2012), and Dheepan (2015)—will write and direct.

Brandon Cronenberg, who has already lined up an adaptation of J. G. Ballard’s Super-Cannes as a limited series, will write and direct another story of an island vacation gone wrong. In Infinity Pool, a futuristic all-inclusive resort is threatened by an unseen force just outside the gates. Alexander Skarsgård has signed on to star.

The great Walter Hill (The Warriors, The Driver, 48 Hrs.) will write and direct Dead for a Dollar, starring Christoph Waltz as a bounty hunter hired to track down the wife of a Santa Fe businessman in 1897. Along the way, he crosses paths with a gambling outlaw (Willem Dafoe) he sent to prison years ago.

Manodrome promises more men behaving badly. John Trengove, whose The Wound (2017) won accolades in Sundance and Berlin, will direct Jesse Eisenberg, Adrien Brody, and Riley Keough in the story of an Uber driver (Eisenberg) who loses touch with reality when he falls in with a libertarian masculinity cult.

Tim Sutton (Pavilion, Funny Face) has cast Colson Baker, known to most as Machine Gun Kelly, in what he calls “a hip-hop tragedy.” Good News is inspired by the trajectories of such artists as Mac Miller, Lil Peep, Pop Smoke, Juice Wrld, and “a lot of these SoundCloud rappers not being able to reach their full potential because of society and Instagram and social media and drugs and all of that,” Sutton told the Playlist in April. “No one has made that movie yet, and I’m hoping to do so.”


Since the last roundup on projects in the works, we’ve learned a bit more about a few we’ve been keeping an eye on. Rian Johnson has tweeted word that he’s begun shooting the movie that for the time being many are simply calling Knives Out 2. The cast, featuring Daniel Craig as southern private investigator Benoit Blanc as well as Dave Bautista, Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Kate Hudson, Madelyn Cline, and Jessica Henwick, have joined Johnson in Greece.

David Fincher is evidently planning to begin shooting The Killer, an adaptation by Andrew Kevin Walker (Se7en) of Alexis Nolent’s graphic novel series, in November. Michael Fassbender will star in the Netflix feature as an unnamed assassin, and cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt (Mank) has confirmed that he’s on board.

Olivia Wilde, Spike Jonze, Phoebe Tonkin, and Tobey Maguire have joined Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt, Katherine Waterston, Diego Calva, Jovan Adepo, and Li Jun Li in Babylon, Damien Chazelle’s portrait of Hollywood in the 1920s, when the talkies were edging out silent movies. According to the Hollywood Reporter’s Borys Kit, Babylon has been described as “The Great Gatsby on steroids.”

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