James Brolin turns old, Michael Haneke tries love, and Brendon Gleeson goes Catholic.
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2 Mar 2012 - 12:26 PM  UPDATED 5 Nov 2012 - 8:30 PM

The Oldboy remake is happening. Park Chan-wook's 2003 Korean thriller, a mix of bruising violence, pitch black humour and moral unease, served as an international launching point for both the filmmaker and the propulsive crime films of his homeland's cinema. Whether wise or not, various directors subsequently circled the remake, but now it's definitely going ahead with Spike Lee at the helm. The Malcolm X and Inside Man director has concentrated more on his telling series of documentaries in recent years – although an autobiographical feature Red Hook Summer premiered recently at the Sundance Film Festival – but this is interesting material in his hands.

The basic story will reportedly stay the same, albeit transposed to America: an average man is mysteriously abducted one night and imprisoned in a room for 15 years without reason where he slowly becomes unbalanced as he learns that his life has been destroyed. When he's suddenly set free and challenged to discover the motives of his captors, a bloody investigation unfolds. For his deranged protagonist Lee has cast Josh Brolin (pictured), who's also in the upcoming blockbuster Men in Black III (playing a younger version of Tommy Lee Jones) and the 1950s Los Angeles crime drama The Gangster Squad with Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.

Another key role is that of the young woman who takes in the anti-hero and becomes entangled in his quest. Initial reports suggested the very busy Australian actor Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland, Albert Nobbs) had the role, but Lee is now talking with Elizabeth Olsen, the breakthrough star of the recent Martha Marcy May Marlene. The 23-year-old has multiple films already shot, including the horror piece Silent House and the paranormal thriller Red Lights alongside Robert De Niro, Sigourney Weaver and Cillian Murphy, but the combination of Spike Lee and Oldboy would certainly make for a challenge.

There's a good chance this May's Cannes Film Festival will see the debut of the new feature from Michael Haneke, the arrestingly menacing Austrian director whose considerable body of work – Caché (Hidden) and two versions of Funny Games, The Piano Teacher and The White Ribbon – has made a major voice in European filmmaking. Returning to a troubled domestic setting, Love is the story of an ageing couple, played by the esteemed Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, whose bond is tested when their musician daughter (Haneke muse Isabelle Huppert) has to return home to live with them after suffering a stroke and becoming paralysed down one side.

Having done wonders for the international image of Ireland's police force, the Garda, in John Michael McDonagh's 2011 black comedy The Guard, Brendan Gleeson will now reunite with the writer/director to take on another pillar of Irish life. In Calvary Gleeson will play a Catholic priest who is threatened during confession and must save himself from his congregation. Alongside what will probably be a rather unconventional man of the cloth, McDonagh has cast an eclectic group of actors: Chris O'Dowd (Bridesmaids), Isaach De Bankole (The Limits of Control, White Material), Aidan Gillen (television's The Wire, Game of Thrones), and Kelly Reilly (the Sherlock Holmes movies). Don't expect Father Ted to be a point of reference.