Cycle of life for Saville and Edgerton
Australian directors, along with a system that isn’t sure whether to nurture them or not, have a problem producing successors to strong first films. Cate Shortland’s outstanding Lore, in cinemas now, is certainly the equal, if not better, than her debut, Somersault, but it has taken eight years to appear. At least that’s preferable to the experience of Shirley Barrett, who followed Love Serenade with Walk the Talk, or Geoffrey Wright, who couldn’t match Romper Stomper with Metal Skin. Given that there’s been a swell in the stocks of promising young Australian filmmakers in recent years, the clock is ticking for a group of directors facing their second feature.
This column has already chronicled the return of David Michôd, who is venturing into the outback for The Rover, the futuristic western that will succeed Animal Kingdom with Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson starring, but the wait continues for Warwick Thornton (Samson and Delilah), Elissa Down (The Black Balloon) and Nash Edgerton (The Square). One talented Australian director who finally has his second movie underway is Matthew Saville, who has been busy in television since the unsettling, compelling Noise came out in 2007.
In Felony, the very busy Joel Edgerton (Animal Kingdom, Warrior), who also wrote the screenplay, will play a decorated police detective who after enjoying celebratory drinks with fellow officers following a successful bust accidentally runs a cyclist off the road and then lies about what occurred. Opposite Edgerton – and you might wonder why brother Nash isn’t directing his screenplay – playing the lead investigator will be the always sterling English veteran Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel). The thriller is in pre-production now for a 2013 release.
Jin-ho Hur bets on adaptation
Composed mainly of letters between the various characters, Choderlos de Laclos’ 1782 novel Les Liaisons dangereuses has proved to have a long and productive creative life. Christopher Hampton made it into a play, which was adapted for Stephen Frears’ celebrated 1988 film, while the text has inspired modern takes from filmmakers Roger Vadim in 1959 and Roger Kumble in 1999 (as the ludicrous Cruel Intentions). Now it’s been transposed to 1930s Shanghai by South Korean director Jin-ho Hur (Happiness), with his compatriot as the duplicitous seducer Dong-gun Jang (Friend), who accepts a bet from a Cecilia Cheung’s corrupt acquaintance to target the prim widow played by Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).
Hanks banks Disney bio-pic
Walt Disney was a strange and gifted man, and while a biopic of his life would be a taxing task to master, one extended episode will be told in Saving Mr. Banks. Directed by John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side), it will tell of Disney’s pursuit of the screen rights of the Mary Poppins books, which were written by Australian-born Londoner P.L. Travers. Disney began pursuing them, and Travers started saying no, in 1938, and she didn’t relent until 1961. (Robert Stevenson’s popular musical, with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, was released in 1964.) Hancock has Tom Hanks (Saving Private Ryan) as Disney, with Emma Thompson (An Education) as Travers, and now there are parts for Rachel Griffiths (Burning Man), as the aunt who inspired the character of Mary Poppins, Paul Giamatti (Sideways) and, curiously, Colin Farrell (In Bruges).