Is Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn offering a new take on the crime film, or just making a better lit version of familiar tales. The desperation of Pusher and the theatrical demeanour amidst the violence of Bronson suggested he was subverting various genres, but then Drive was a stylised take on the early works of Michael Mann and William Friedkin. Since the latter's success Refn has made the Bangkok-set Only God Forgives, where the rivalry between a policeman and a criminal escalates to a Thai boxing match. Drive star Ryan Gosling returns for the 2013 release, although he's not easily recognisable in the teaser poster.
Now Refn has signed up to direct an adaptation of a 1980s television show. The New York-set The Equalizer aired for four seasons beginning in 1985, with veteran British actor Edward Woodward (Breaker Morant) as a retired U.S. intelligence operative making amends for his past by helping ordinary people with their extraordinary problems. It was a crime-of-the-week show, memorable for Woodward's tempered performance and the electronic theme tune from Police drummer Stewart Copeland, and it's unclear how that will translate, if at all, to film. Refn does have a suitable star, with Denzel Washington, fresh from playing a similar character in this year's Safe House, signing on for the title role.
Rush on offer
Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore will forever be associated with just his second picture, 1988's Cinema Paradiso, but his career now stretches to over a dozen features, including 1994's A Pure Formality with Gerard Depardieu and 2000's Malena with Monica Bellucci. His new film, The Best Offer, is an English language thriller set in the high stakes world of European art auctions, with a cast that includes Australian Geoffrey Rush (Bran Nue Dae), Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games) and Jim Sturgess (The Way Back). Tornatore also has an ever-present from his previous works pitching in: the score will be composed by the legendary Ennio Morricone.
Additions: Joel Edgerton (Animal Kingdom) will join Natalie Portman (Black Swan) and Michael Fassbender (Prometheus) in Jane Got a Gun, the western from English director Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin); Terrence Howard (Crash) has been added to the kidnapping thriller Prisoners, alongside Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables) and Jake Gyllenhaal (End of Watch) for director Denis Villeneuve (Incendies); Gillian Jacobs (TV's Community) will portray the best friend to the hungover newsreader retracing her steps from the night before (sound familiar?) to be played by Elizabeth Banks (The Next Three Days) in the comedy Walk of Shame.
From Biutiful to Birdman
A director doing something unexpected is Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, whose uncompromising body of work is the dramas Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel and Biutiful – even Adam Sandler films have more laughs than that quartet. Nonetheless, Inarritu's next film is a comedy. Birdman is the story of a down and out actor, who once played a superhero character, who has to deal with travails of his life and family over a three day period. Hopefully Inarritu can persuade his Biutiful star Javier Bardem to join him in taking a walk on the wild side.