The Scottish actor Robert Carlyle, who will probably be forever known as Begbie in Trainspotting, will direct himself in the dark comic thriller The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson, an adaptation of one of Douglas Lindsay's seven Barney Thomson novels. Carlyle's eponymous protagonist is a Scottish barber whose life has settled in somewhere between dismal and forgettable – no-one wants him to cut their hair, his wife ignores him, and nothing positive happens to him, at least until a serial killer appears. Alongside himself Carlyle has cast Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks), Ray Winstone (The Sweeney) and Ewan Bremner (Trainspotting). It's a return home for Carlyle, who has been making American television series the last few years.
Franco back with Bukowski
What's James Franco made this week? The answer is Bukowski, a study of the childhood and formative years of the Los Angeles writer who has become an obsession for the pulp artists and melancholic bad boys of the movie business. Bukowski, or his fictionalised alter-ego Hank Chinaski, has previously featured in Barbet Schroeder's Barfly (played by Mickey Rourke), Bent Hamer's Factotum (played by Matt Dillon), and Marco Ferreri's Tales of Ordinary Madness (played by Ben Gazzara). Franco has cast former tween star Josh Peck (The Wackness) as the young Bukowski, and the supporting cast includes Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother, Where Art Thou?), Alex Kingston (Croupier), and, ah, Shannen Doherty (television's Beverly Hills 90210). What motivated the young Bukowski? Just an abusive father, severe acne and early alcohol abuse. Very Franco.
Superman vs. Batman vs. Lex Luthor
More exploding heads online as 2016's untitled Zach Snyder Superhero Movie – a.k.a. Superman vs. Batman, a.k.a. OMG Ben Affleck as Batman! – has added a further pair of cast members to join Affleck and the returning Henry Cavill as the Man of Steel and Amy Adams as Lois Lane. Having seen rumours that Superman's human nemesis, Lex Luthor, would be played by Bryan Cranston, the role has gone to 30-year-old Jesse Eisenberg, the archetypal uptight geek of David Fincher's The Social Network – this is going to be a cerebral, snippy Lex Luthor (previous screen versions have been played by Gene Hackman and Kevin Spacey). But the stranger call is that of Jeremy Irons as Bruce Wayne/Batman's loyal butler, Alfred. Jeremy Irons is one of the cinema's great aristocrats, with disdain in his veins.
Hoffman's work on hold
Adams, who is outstanding in Her and American Hustle, was also meant to star alongside Jake Gyllenhaal (Prisoners) in the Great Depression-era drama Ezekiel Moss, which would have been the second feature directed by the gifted American actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. The tragic death of Hoffman, aged just 46, puts the project on hold. In front of the camera Hoffman has two finished dramas that will now be released posthumously: in God's Pocket, directed by Mad Men actor John Slattery, he played a man who gets into trouble by trying to cover up the accidental death of his stepson, while Anton Corbijn's A Most Wanted Man was the story of international intrigue, with Hoffman as a German banker alongside Rachel McAdams (About Time) and Daniel Bruhl (Rush). Initial reports indicate that Hoffman has filmed most of his scenes for the third and fourth Hunger Games movies, having brought welcome menace and uncertainty to the recent blockbuster The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.