Don Groves cites examples of when foreign directors trip over the language barrier when making forays into Hollywood.
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10 Mar 2009 - 12:39 PM  UPDATED 6 Nov 2012 - 10:30 PM

When foreign directors make the jump to English-language films, the result can be hit or miss. For nearly every success story like Kazakh-born Timur Bekmambetov, who struck gold with his Hollywood debut, Wanted, on the back of the hugely successful Night Watch/Day Watch thrillers, it seems, there's a misfire.

Danish director Jonas Elmer struck out with his first English-language effort New in Town (above), the Renee Zellweger/Harry Connick Jr. comedy, which bombed in the US and fell flat in Australia last weekend.

A highly successful career in Sweden couldn't insulate Lukas Moodysson from the wrath of critics who savaged Mammoth, his riff on globalisation, when it premiered at February's Berlin International Film Festival. The film stars Gael Garcia Bernal as a computer game tycoon married to an overworked emergency room doctor (Michelle Williams), who jets off to Thailand and gets mixed up in the sex trade.

Variety railed at Moodysson's vapid dialogue and said the film “never builds to a satisfying, explicit reckoning with its ambitious themes.”

Still, you can't blame foreign directors for wanting to work on bigger budgets, reach wider audiences and enhance their reputations--and pay cheques -- by trying to jump the language barrier.

Sergei Bodrov, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Benedek Fliegauf, Juan Antonio Bayona and Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck are among those endeavoring to make the transition.

Bodrov, whose Genghis Khan epic Mongol was nominated for best foreign-language film Oscar, is directing for Warner Bros. The Last Photograph, based on an original idea by Watchmen director Zack Snyder, about two men and the photograph that inspires them to travel to war-torn Afghanistan.

Bollywood veteran Chopra is in pre-production on Broken Horses, a gangster saga which will shoot in the US, scripted by Abhijat Joshi (Lage Raho Munnabhai, Eklavya and 64 Squares). Mickey Rourke is rumoured to be one of the leads but no casting has been announced yet.

Eva Green (Casino Royale) has signed up for futuristic drama Womb for Hungarian director Fliegauf, founder of the so-called \'Raptors collective\'. Green takes on the role of a grieving widow who decides to clone her late husband, played by Matt Smith (who'll replace David Tennant in the BBC\'s Dr. Who).

Spanish director Bayona, who made a major splash in 2007 with the Guillermo Del Toro-produced horror movie The Orphanage, will make his English-language debut with Hater for Universal. It's based on British author David Moody's novel which charts an epidemic of violence perpetrated by ordinary people.

Germany's von Donnersmarck, who hasn\'t directed a film since his 2006 drama The Lives of Others won the foreign-language Oscar, is in talks to direct The 28th Amendment, Variety reported. The Warner Bros. project, which might be Tom Cruise's next vehicle, revolves around a US president who discovers the existence of a secret cabal that runs the government and wants him dead. Let's hope von Donnersmarck is a strong-willed director because Cruise is a force to be reckoned with—and while his star is on the rise again after Valkyrie and his cameo in Tropic Thunder, Lions for Lambs was a dud and a bore.