Australian actor turned filmmaker Kieran Darcy-Smith, who forged a strong debut with 2012’s Wish You Were Here, a tense whodunit that also spoke to the uneasy needs of contemporary Australia, has obviously had his first feature seen by the right people, as his second feature is gathering momentum. By Way of Helena has been described as a revenge western, set in the 1880s, with a Texas Ranger investigating a series of murders in a frontier town where the local preacher has a messianic sway over his flock. Darcy-Smith has Woody Harrelson (The Messenger) for the latter role, with the young Australian actor Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games) playing the former. Hemsworth, who failed to make an impression in the banal techno thriller Paranoia, must be looking to Australian directors for guidance: he also joins Kate Winslet (Divergent), Judy Davis (To Rome with Love) and Isla Fisher (The Great Gatsby) in Jocelyn Moorhouse’s forthcoming rural drama The Dressmaker.
Bejo to play bad mother
Berenice Bejo, who could have filled her dance card with whimsical roles and romantic comedies after the international success of The Artist, continues to pursue dramatic parts. She was a powerful, conflicted presence in Asghar Farhadi’s The Past, although initial reviews out of Cannes were not kind to The Search, the Chechen-set feature that reunited her with The Artist director (and her partner) Michel Hazanavicius. In the psychological study After the Storm, from French filmmaker Safy Nebbou (Bad Seeds), Bejo will play a mother who can’t accept the accidental death of her five-year-old son and hides his body, setting off a police search for the little boy.
Round two for Hirschbiegel and Hitler
Having charted the final days of Adolf Hitler with 2004’s Downfall, German filmmaker Oliver Hirschbiegel – who would probably like everyone to forget about that Princess Diana movie – returns to the Nazi leader’s life with Elser, the story of the German carpenter and left-wing sympathiser who in 1939, with World War II just months old, came close to killing Hitler and much of the Nazi leadership when a bomb meticulously prepared and installed in a Munich hall over several months exploded just after the dignitaries departed. Johann Elser, who was caught, tortured and held in Dachau concentration camp until he was executed in 1945, will be played by Christian Friedel (The White Ribbon), with his girlfriend Elsa to be played by Katharina Schuttler (Oh Boy).
Terrence takes his time
This is the last installment of this column (someone else must now try to keep up with how many movies Joe Swanberg has made since waking up today), and it’s worth noting that in the very first edition circa November 2011 there was news of two untitled projects from Terrence Malick, one with Christian Bale and Natalie Portman headlining a sizable ensemble cast, and another with Cate Blanchett, Ryan Gosling and, yes, Christian Bale. After all this time we don’t know much more than the first film is provisionally titled Knight of Cups. “Slow down, Terrence Malick,” was the request back then, so it’s only fitting that we finish with, “Hurry up, Terrence Malick”.