Four words you would never expect to read: slow down, Terrence Malick. The legendary American filmmaker, who is renowned for both the remarkable singularity of movies such as Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line and this year's The Tree of Life and their often decade-long gestation, suddenly can't stop making films. Having released just four features between his debut, Badlands, in 1973 and The New World in 2005, the 67-year-old is in the flush of a cinematic Indian summer.
With Tree of Life having just departed local screens, Malick is already deep into post-production on an untitled 2012 film, possibly a romance, that will star Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Rachel Weisz, Michael Sheen and Javier Bardem; Sean Penn's annoyance at his performance in Tree of Life being excoriated in the editing room obviously hasn't deterred his contemporaries
This week, however, he's announced the production of two further films, both with impressive casts that will shoot next year. Lawless will feature Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara (who is suddenly in demand after David Fincher handpicked her as Lisbeth Salander for his remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), while Knight of Cups stars Blanchett, Bale and former Home & Away ingénue Isabel Lucas, whose film career to date has been, to put it diplomatically, scrappy.
No word on storylines, locations or source material yet, but there's a chance – admittedly slim – that Terrence Malick, one of the cinema's great recluses, could have features released in each of four consecutive years. Traditionally Malick films have been visitations, unexpected and alien to the ebb and flow of Thursday openings. How will we perceive his art if it starts popping up with something akin to regularity?
Those involved with the original 2009 Dragon Tattoo adaptation are also busy. Danish director Niels Arden Oplev, along with the original Lisbeth Salander, Noomi Rapace, will team up for the American mob thriller Dead Man Down. Rapace plays a disfigured former beauty who sets out for revenge, accompanied by a hitman to be played by Colin Farrell.
Thanks to Oplev, as well as charmingly nuts Drive helmer Nicolas Winding Refn, Danish filmmakers are in demand. Ole Christian Madsen (Flame & Citron, the forthcoming Superclasico) has just been signed to direct an American thriller, Paper Trail, while compatriot Asger Leth has his international production, Man on a Ledge, with Sam Worthington and Elizabeth Banks, ready for an early 2012 release.
The prolific Johnnie To, who has helped remake both the crime film and perceptions of post-handover Hong Kong with the likes of Breaking News and Election, has opted for the somewhat less violent genre of the romantic comedy. In Romancing in Thin Air Louis Koo (Overheard) plays a Hong Kong film star who flees to China's mountainous Yunnan province after being jilted at the alter and finds an unexpected love portrayed by pop singer/actress Sammi Cheng.
And, finally, rival volcano or deadly asteroid films are one thing, but dueling Linda Lovelace biopics? Amanda Seyfried (Red Riding Hood, In Time), has signed on to play the porn star whose 1972 production, Deep Throat, revolutionised the adult film industry, for directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (Howl). Their film, Lovelace, goes up against Matthew Wilder's Inferno: A Linda Lovelace Story, which stars Malin Akerman (Watchmen), who replaced teen star turned unemployable insurance risk Lindsay Lohan. For news on her next project, check the Los Angeles County court dockets.