The flashiest casting news of the week leaves me flummoxed: Ben Affleck (Argo) will play Batman to Henry Cavill's Superman in Zack Snyder's 2015 sequel to Man of Steel. While Affleck has proven himself a sturdy actor who has geared his best screen roles towards an understated intensity, his performance will probably be secondary to a box-office orientated decision to join two of the biggest superhero brands together. But how does Batman, a mere human billionaire with some great toys, compare to Superman, someone of incredible power from another world? Didn't Man of Steel establish, via a raft of villains from the planet Krypton, that everyone on this planet paled next to the stern interstellar orphan? The Batmobile doesn't exactly compare to a man that can fly at supersonic speeds, but the toy spin-offs should be cool.
Streep goes back and into the future
Another figure with powers beyond the conception of most people is Meryl Streep. The revered actor will star for Australian filmmaker Philip Noyce (Rabbit-Proof Fence, Salt) in The Giver, an adaptation of Lois Lowry's 1993 fantasy novel about a dystopic future society where human emotion and history is erased for all but one member, who acts as a repository. When a young boy is assigned that role by Streep's chief elder, he meets the current Giver, to be played by Jeff Bridges (True Grit), who changes his conventional outlook on life. Young Australian actor Brenton Thwaites will play Jonas, the outcast in the making, with Alexander Skarsgard (What Maisie Knew) as his father. Streep also has an upcoming supporting role in The Homesman, a western to be directed by actor Tommy Lee Jones about two unlikely people transporting three asylum patients across the frontier.
Shakespeare adaptation news
Snowtown director Justin Kurzel has a new Lady Macbeth to star opposite Michael Fassbender (Hunger) in his upcoming adaptation of the bloody tragedy. Natalie Portman (Black Swan) is out, and the French star Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose) will now have the bloody hands. Director Michael Almereyda and actor Ethan Hawke, who in 2000 made a smart contemporary retelling of Hamlet, will join forces again for Cymbeline, the story of a young couple's secret marriage that will be told against the new backdrop of corrupt police and a biker gang. Joining Hawke on screen will be Ed Harris (The Right Stuff), Mille Jovovich (Zoolander) and Penn Badgley (Margin Call).
New Woo epic on the way
Veteran Hong Kong filmmaker John Woo, who has returned to working in Asia after his Hollywood years petered out with Windtalkers and Paycheck, has begun work on another two part period epic to follow up 2008's Red Cliff and 2009's Red Cliff II. The Crossing is a series of intertwining love stories set in 1940s Taiwan and Shanghai against a backdrop of World War II and the birth of Communist China. The film, scripted by Lust, Caution screenwriter Wang Huiling, will feature Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Takeshi Kaneshiro (Red Cliff) and South Korea's Hye-kyo Song (Wong Kar-wai's The Grandmaster).