Co-write a well-received or commercially adroit movie and chances are the call will soon come asking if you have a finished script ready to direct yourself. It's how Lawrence Kasdan went from writing The Empire Strikes Back for George Lucas in 1980 to directing his sultry noir debut Body Heat the following year, and now two contributing writers to recently successful films are trying to make the same leap.
The first is Stuart Blumberg, who co-wrote 2010's bittersweet L.A. family tale The Kids Are All Right with director Lisa Cholodenko. Now Blumberg (pictured) is directing Thanks for Sharing, a comedy about a group of strangers who become friends through a therapy group for sex addicts. Kids co-star Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers) heads the cast, alongside Gwyneth Paltrow (Contagion), Tim Robbins (High Fidelity), Joely Richardson (Anonymous) and pop singer Pink (too many music videos).
Sheldon Turner came to prominence when he was part of the adaptation process for Walter Kirn's novel, Up in the Air, which became a hit in 2009 with George Clooney starring for co-writer and director Jason Reitman. Although there was disagreement between Reitman and Turner over credits and responsibility, the latter is now directing a revenge thriller about an ex-con released from jail after being framed for a crime committed by his former mentor. By Virtue Fall's cast includes Carla Gugino (Sin City), Armie Hammer (The Social Network), James Spader (the forthcoming Lincoln) and Australia's Eric Bana (Hanna).
Strong memories of mind
The steady stream of Spanish genre filmmakers continues apace with a feature debut for Jorge Dorado, previously an assistant director to the likes of Pedro Almodovar (Talk to Her) and Guillermo Del Toro (The Devil's Backbone). In Mindscape – a title a little too close to the kind of straight to video production Rutger Hauer made in the 1990s – Dorado will direct a post-Inception tale of an investigator who can enter the memories of others who is tasked with finding out if a troubled 16-year-old girl is a sociopath or a trauma victim. The cast is headlined by Mark Strong (pictured), the chiseled British actor who made his name playing authoritative bad guys in everything from The Young Victoria and Sherlock Holmes to Kick-Ass, but who has recently revealed a vein of vulnerability in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and the forthcoming Zero Dark Thirty.
Another ambitious book to be adapted: New Zealand author Lloyd Jones' Mr. Pip, a story of literature and survival set on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville during the 1990s, when the threat of civil conflict forces most people to leave. The one non-local who stays, due to marriage, is Mr. Watts, a mysterious figure who takes over the local school and proceeds to introduce the fearful children to Charles Dickens' Great Expectations and its protagonist Pip. The director, unexpectedly, is Andrew Adamson, whose Hollywood resume includes the first two Shrek movies and the initial pair of Narnia screen translations. For the eccentric, eventually threatened, educator he has cast Hugh Laurie, the English comic remade by American television who is moving into movies after years as the acerbic centre of the small screen medical procedural House.