Normally this column reports on people going to work, but that's not the case with Lynne Ramsay. Last week the Scottish independent director, who had initial success with 1999's Ratcatcher and 2002's Morvern Callar and then made a prominent comeback with 2011's We Need to Talk About Kevin, was due on set for the first day of shooting of Jane Got a Gun, a western previously covered here about a frontier wife who must ask a former love, a famous gunfighter, to protect her wounded husband from the men coming to kill him. The film was to star Natalie Portman, Jude Law and Michael Fassbender, but Fassbender exited several weeks ago, claiming that he had a schedule clash with the X-Men: First Class sequel, and Australian Joel Edgerton replaced him.
A little chopping and changing is normal amongst independent productions in the lead-up to shooting, but the director not turning up is extremely rare. Ramsay, for reasons unknown, quit by simply not coming to the New Mexico set even as the cast and crew were present. A few days later Law, who had signed on because he wanted to work with Ramsay, dropped out. Portman, however, wasn't going anywhere, as she was a producer. And within days she and her fellow producers had recruited director Gavin O'Connor (Pride and Glory, Warrior), who is already on set at work. Jane Got a Gun is due out next year, and for once the press junket should be very interesting.
Projects divide Moses' story
Biblical epics are so hot right now: as Darren Aronofsky continues work on his version of the Noah's Ark tale with Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson, there are rival Moses projects being prepared. The first, which is being rewritten by Steve Zaillian (Schindler's List, American Gangster), might be directed by Ridley Scott, while the second could be offered to Ang Lee, fresh from Life of Pi. Similar films from rival Hollywood studios are common enough, although Moses is more highbrow than this year's terrorists-in-the-White-House face-off. The one thing everyone reportedly agrees on is that Christian Bale, having shed the Batsuit, would make a perfect Moses.
Eclectic cast list: the giant creature at the centre of the Godzilla remake, which is to be directed by English filmmaker Gareth Edwards (Monsters), will be sharing the screen with Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Savages), Bryan Cranston (Argo), Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene), Juliette Binoche (Elles), David Strathairn (Lincoln) and Ken Watanabe (Inception). If nothing else, there should be some entertaining conversations while they wait for the digital effects crew to do their thing.
Congress in the Wright
Israeli director Ari Folman, who made the powerful animated documentary Waltz with Bashir, is in post-production on his follow-up. In The Congress, which is set in America, Robin Wright (State of Play, Moneyball; pictured) plays an ageing actress whose decision to accept a final role has unexpected ramifications. Her co-stars include Paul Giamatti (American Splendor), Harvey Keitel (Bad Lieutenant) and the gifted teenage Australian actor Kodi Smitt-McPhee (The Road)