The American filmmaker Jeff Nichols has recently made two back-to-back features: 2011's unsettling Take Shelter, where intimations of the apocalypse and mental stability fuse into a crisis for a fireman (Michael Shannon) and his family; and Mud, a myth-like drama of two boys from the American south helping a fugitive (Matthew McConaughey) due out locally next month. Both have been well-received and now, like Looper director Rian Johnson, Nichols is attempting a genre piece that may take him into the mainstream. His untitled fourth film will be a chase film set in the present day, with sci-fi overtones, and it will reunite him with Shannon, who also has a small role in Mud and his 2007 debut Shotgun Stories.
If Nichols is building a profile, Shannon is threatening to gain a whole new one. The actor (pictured), with his intensely focused gaze and air of troubled detachment, has had a succession of memorable supporting roles, whether playing a vicious criminal demanding recompense in Sidney Lumet's Before the Devil Knows You're Dead to the suburban soul refusing to kowtow to the 1950s mainstream in Sam Mendes' Revolutionary Road (a film that came alive with potential when Shannon was on the screen). But on June 24 he'll play General Zod, the interstellar villain from Krypton in Zack Snyder's Superman reboot Man of Steel. By early July, Shannon is going to be known to a whole lot more people, and hopefully he and Nichols can do something with that notoriety. Shannon can be much more than the next Christopher Walken.
Claudia Llosa secures quality cast
The Peruvian filmmaker Claudia Llosa (The Milk of Sorrow, Madeinusa) has assembled an impressive cast for her American-set, English language debut. Cry/Fly is the story of a mother with a terminally ill six-year-old daughter who becomes separated from her child, as well as her young son, following a dramatic event. Two decades later, a French journalist persuades the now grown son to journey towards his mother, who is now famous. As the mother who will age 20 years on the screen, Llosa has secured Jennifer Connelly (Requiem for a Dream, A Beautiful Mind), who has been recently wasting her time in romantic comedies, while there's also a role – possibly as the grown son – for Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins, Broken), with French actor Melanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds) as the journalist.
Cotillard joins Dardenne's latest
Since she won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in 2007's La Vie en Rose, Marion Cotillard has deftly moved French and American projects, become the blockbuster femme fatale of choice for Christopher Nolan in The Dark Knight Rises and Inception while working with Jacques Audiard (Rust and Bone) and Guillaume Canet (Little White Lies). Now she can add Belgium, and the filmmaking siblings Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, to her CV. In Two Days, One Night, the new feature from the revered creators of The Child and The Kid with a Bike, Cotillard will play Sandra, a woman who has a single weekend to persuade her workmates to forego their annual bonus so she can keep her job. The concept sounds almost comedic, but you'd have to be doubtful of the Dardenne's taking that path.