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Film Comment News Digest: 5/26/14

By Gavin Smith on May 26, 2014

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Michael Haneke

Flashmob—that’s the title of the next Michael Haneke film, which will start shooting this summer. It’s a multi-character drama partly set in the U.S., and deals with what Haneke describes as “the fragile relationship between media and reality,” and focuses on a number of people who meet through the Internet, with their disparate stories brought together at the end by a flash mob … Derek Cianfrance is reeling in Michael Fassbender for the lead in The Light Between Oceans, an adaptation of M. L. Stedman's best-selling novel about a lighthouse keeper and his wife who discover a dead body and baby in a boat and decide to raise the child as their own. Complications will most assuredly ensue …  Fresh from jury duty at Cannes, Nicolas Winding Refn is next trying his hand at the horror genre, with The Bringing for Sony Pictures. It’s about a man investigating a death at Los Angeles’s notorious Cecil Hotel, once home to serial killer Richard Ramirez and known for its long history of murders and suicides (consult Wikipedia for the gruesome details). Shades of Refn’s Fear X maybe? …

Katherine Bigelow

Tom Hardy teams with Kathryn Bigelow and producer Megan Ellison on an adaptation of The True American, a nonfiction book by Anand Giridharadas. Set in Dallas in the days following 9/11, it focuses on the relationship between Mark Stroman, who went on a killing spree targeting men he wrongly thought were Arab, and Raisuddin Bhuiyan, a Bangladeshi-born convenience-store clerk who was shot by Stroman but survived … Michael Winterbottom’s new film The Vatican Connection, is based on the true story of NYPD Detective Joe Coffey who uncovered a global trail of intrigue involving billions of dollars, Vatican bankers, and a shadowy worldwide conspiracy. Any role in there for Steve Coogan? … Twelve years after his unfortunate first effort at fiction (Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2), documentary director Joe Berlinger takes another swing at it with Facing the Wind. Alessandro Nivola plays a mentally unstable man who seeks redemption after killing his wife and children. It co-stars Vera Farmiga, Evan Rachel Wood, Rita Wilson, and Jennifer Beals, and, happily, it’s based on a true story … Also in the works are Steven, an unauthorized biopic about Morrissey by Mark Gil, focusing on how the singer overcame his troubled childhood to become a star; and Lust for Life, a biopic about David Bowie and Iggy Pop’s Berlin years, which is finally going into production after being announced over a year ago …

The Search Michel Hazanavicius

The Search

In 2011 Michel Hazanavicius was the darling of Cannes for The Artist, but this year he was reviled for his “important message film” The Search. Will Will, the director’s official Hollywood sellout comedy, raise his stock with the fickle French and international press corps? With a little help from his friends (producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay), Will will star Zach Galifianakis and focuses on the relationship between a “rebellious guardian angel” and the titular protagonist, expected to be played by Paul Rudd. So it’s back to the drawing board for Tom Hanks and writer Eric Roth, who had Hazanavicius lined up to direct In the Garden of Beasts, the story of William Dodd, America’s ambassador to the Nazi Germany just prior to World War II, with Hanks as Dodd and Natalie Portman as his daughter … 

Jia Zhang-ke

And another Cannes 2014 juror, Jia Zhang-ke, has new project, Mountains May Depart.  Described as a “voyage into the future,” and the first Jia film to be partly shot outside of China, it’s a triptych spanning four decades, beginning in the 1990s with a young man spurned by his lover—played by Jia muse Zhao Tao—who abandons him to marry a rich mine owner. The film then jumps to the present day as the man re-encounters her, now divorced and estranged from her son, and finally shifts to Australia in 2025, to focus on the son, who is living a meaningless existence working in a casino ... Also entering uncharted waters, Catherine Breillat is embarking on her first English-language film, Bridge of Floating Dreams. Set in Japan in the mid-Sixties, it centers on the relationship between a young Australian backpacker and a nightclub hostess, and also features an Austrian forger and a street-wise wannabe Yakuza. Attempting to elucidate, the director said: “In the relationship there is something of ‘romance’ but more flamboyant and carnal; more romantic and Romanesque.” Thanks for that “clarification.”

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