First up is the great Michael Shannon, looking goateed and menacing in Ariel Vroman's gangland saga "The Iceman." The Oscar-nominated "Take Shelter" star plays a mob hitman in an impressive cast that also includes Chris Evans, Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta and, of all people, David Schwimmer. The film's synopsis reminds us that it's "the story of real-life mob hit-man Richard "The Iceman" Kuklinski, who was reportedly responsible for over 200 murders" Can it separate itself from other Mafia-related dramas past and present? We'll find out in a few weeks.
Meanwhile, Sally Potter, director of "Orlando," among others, is back, with an atypically starry cast for the 60s-set coming-of-age tale "Ginger & Rosa" (formerly titled "Bomb"), which stars Elle Fanning and rising star Alice Englert (the daughter of director Jane Campion), alongside Annette Bening, Alessandro Nivola, Timothy Spall, Jodhi May, Christina Hendricks and Oliver Platt. The synopsis for the UK production reads "As the Cold War meets the sexual revolution in 1960s London, the lifelong friendship of two teenage girls (Elle Fanning, Alice Englert) is shattered by ideological differences and personal betrayals," and while the film doesn't yet have a U.S. distributor, it hits theaters in Britain on October 19th, about a month after it bows in Toronto.
Also Hugh Laurie is now free of his commitments to TV series "House," and looking for equal success on the big screen. The actor will soon play a villain in "Robocop," but first up, he's got "Mr. Pip," an adaptation of the best-selling novel by Lloyd Jones, which is directed by Andrew Adamson ("Shrek," "The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe"). One of a series of Dickens-themed pictures in the works, the plot synopsis reads "Living under the shadow of the Papau New Guinean civil war, an eccentric schoolteacher (Hugh Laurie) forms a unique bond with a young girl (Xzannjah Matsi) over their shared love for Charles Dickens' 'Great Expectations.'" No release date is set yet.
And finally, Dustin Hoffman is stepping behind the director's chair for "Quartet," an adaptation of the play by Ronald Harwood. A recent trailer suggested it might be able to cash in on the same grey dollar that made "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" a surprise success, and a new image from the film, which will be premiering at TIFF, displays veterans Maggie Smith and Pauline Collins, who star in the film as half of the titular quartet of retired opera singers, alongside Billy Connolly and Tom Courtenay, with Michael Gambon and Sheridan Smith in support. The Weinstein Company have it in the U.S, while it hits U.K. screens on January 4th.