By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com May 15, 2011 at 11:39AM
Ramin Bahrani is pretty ace. The Iranian-American director broke through with 2005's terrific "Man Push Cart," and then followed it up swiftly with 2007's "Chop Shop" and 2008's "Goodbye Solo." There's not a bad film among them, all three humane, touching and cosmopolitan, and he's one of the most interesting young filmmakers around -- Roger Ebert even went as far as to call him the filmmaker of the decade in 2009. But strangely, we've not covered the director that much here at The Playlist: his last film hit theaters in 2008, and sadly new work, aside from the Werner Herzog-featuring short "Plastic Bag," hasn't really been forthcoming.
But word's come in from Cannes that the filmmaker has a new project going, and it for the first time, it's attracted the attention of some big names. And you might be expecting the Sean Penns or the Michael Shannons of the world to be circling the film, but the names might be surprise you: Variety report that Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron, of all people, are attached to star in an untitled drama that Bahrani will write and direct.
The film will involve a farmer (presumably Quaid), whose plans to expand cause conflict with his wife and sons (one of whom we assume will be Efron). A diverse range of companies are backing the project, including Killer Films, the company run by indie film legend Christine Vachon, London's Bankside Films and Benaroya Pictures ("Margin Call").
While the cast aren't exactly what we were expecting from Bahraini, we're intrigued; Quaid can be a fine actor when allowed to be, and Efron's making a real issue to break away from his "High School Musical" background, with his connection to more adult projects like "Snabba Cash," "The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman" and, as announced on Friday, Lee Daniels' noir thriller "The Paperboy," and this is certainly the biggest step in that direction so far. Filming's meant to get underway later in the summer, and we expect to see further casting announcements fairly soon.