By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com January 4, 2012 at 12:02PM
"Untitled David Chase Project"
Synopsis: A '60s-set coming-of-age story following three Italian boys chasing the rock 'n' roll dream inspired by Chase's own musical ambitions as a youth in Jersey.
What You Need To Know: David Chase's first major production since the infamous finale of his HBO show "The Sopranos" in 2007 and his first venture into the world of feature films sees the acclaimed writer/director tackle a subject dear to his heart that was one of the strengths of his long-running, critically acclaimed show: rock 'n' roll music. The film has three unknowns in John Magaro, Will Brill and Jack Huston (who has since broken out with his role on "Boardwalk Empire") as the leads, which shouldn’t be a problem as Chase’s depiction of youth with inexperienced talent on his HBO show was stellar, but it also boasts a strong supporting cast with Bella Heathcote as the protagonist Magaro’s girlfriend, Christopher McDonald as her father, Molly Price as Magaro’s mother, Lisa Lampenelli as his aunt, Brad Garrett as a composer/producer, and Chase’s ‘Sopranos’ leading man James Gandolfini, who apparently shines as Magaro’s father, “a postwar, post-Depression era parent who has given his kid every advantage that he didn't have growing up.” There has been word of a Cannes premiere -- a 2011 release was potentially on the cards before a late switch-up so the film's probably close to ready -- with the leading trio's band, The Twylight Zones, also continuing to convene regularly and give promises of a performance at some stage in the future.
Release Date: October 12th
“Untitled Kathryn Bigelow Bin Laden Project”
Synopsis: Based-in-fact story centering on the Seal Team 6 who hunted down and killed Osama Bin Laden.
What You Need To Know: Thanks in part to real-life intervention when its subject was finally killed over the summer, Kathryn Bigelow's follow-up to her Oscar winner "The Hurt Locker," which will see her working again with scribe Mark Boal, has been a while coming. But the film's finally started casting up, with "Moneyball" star Chris Pratt and Aussie Jason Clarke on board, and more (possibly including the likes of Rooney Mara, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Nina Arianda and even Tom Hardy) to be announced in the coming weeks; the release date was pushed back to late 2012 from an intiial October slot to help accomodate a later shoot and to avoid any accusations of partisanship. Expectations will be riding high on the film, with folks expecting one of the biggest events in the last few years to be captured authentically, with no bias, while also being a few notches dramatically above something like “Act of Valor.” Add into that a compressed production schedule, and Bigelow has some major weight on her shoulders, but if her last film was anything to go by, she should be able to pull it off with aplomb.
Release: December 19
"Untitled Terrence Malick Project"
Synopsis: A philanderer feeling at loose ends travels to Paris, where he enters a hot-and-heavy affair with a European woman. He returns home to Oklahoma, and marries the European woman but when the relationship founders, he rekindles a romance with a hometown girl with whom he's had a long history.
What You Need To Know: First off, who knows if that plot outline will stick, but there are a couple of curious things to note. Firstly, just like the “The Tree of Life,” the story is again fairly autobiographical, as Malick himself also absconded to Paris and came back with a wife in tow, only to split with her and marry his childhood friend and current wife, Alexadra “Ecky” Wallace. Early word tossed around was that this film would be even “more experimental” than “The Tree of Life” although that remains to be seen. Once again an array of stars have come out to play with Malick -- Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Javier Bardem, Barry Pepper, Olga Kurylenko -- with Michael Sheen and Jessica Chastain also filming small roles that could wind up on the cutting room floor. And as far as we know, the film remains in the editing bay for now.
Release: While the film has sold in numerous territories including the U.K. and Canada, Malick has apparently refused any offers for U.S. distribution so far. A 2012 release is expected and our guess is that the director may take it the festival route first before firming up a North American deal. But he's a notoriously slow editor: will it even be ready by Cannes?
“Welcome to the Punch”
Synopsis: An ex-criminal is forced to return to London from his Icelandic hideaway when his son is involved in a heist gone wrong. This gives a dogged detective one last chance to catch the man he’s always been after.
What You Need To Know: Though it might sound like a generic, B-movie thriller, the pedigree behind this one makes it one to watch. The project's been on our radar since since 2010, when the script placed highly on the annual Brit List, a collection of the best unmade screenplays in the U.K.. The material comes from the mind of writer-director Eran Creevy, who made an exceptional debut a couple of years back with the super-low-budget, award-winning, cult fave "Shifty.” And with this film drawing early comparisons to "Heat" (Michael Mann was also an influence on “Shifty”) we can’t help be but curious. Toss into the mix a great cast including James McAvoy, Mark Strong, Andrea Riseborough, Peter Mullan and David Morrissey and this little potboiler could come out nowhere in 2012 to be a major genre surprise.
Release: None yet, as the film will need a U.S. distributor before that can happen, which likely means this will pop up on the festival circuit before it plays your local theater.
“The Wettest County”
Synopsis: The true story of the Bondurant brothers who run a bootlegging gang but find their moonshine dynasty in Franklin County, Virginia threatened by the authorities wanting a cut.
What You Need To Know: It feels like we’ve been talking about this movie’s delays, production and upcoming release for years which, unfortunately, is becoming a hallmark of John Hillcoat’s work. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, and is probably just indicative of his challenging, genre-oriented work, which is harder for studios to market and release. Based on Matt Bondurant’s novel of the same name, "The Wettest County" looks no different. Starring the trio of Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf and Jason Clarke as the leading bootlegging brothers, the film has apparently been killing test screenings and features a stellar supporting cast including Jessica Chastain as Hardy’s love interest Maggie; Mia Wasikowska as LaBeouf’s belle; Dane DeHaan as Labeouf’s partner-in-crime; Guy Pearce as a violent deputy with the brothers in his sights, and Gary Oldman as a gangster who employs the boys. Script comes courtesy of Nick Cave who will also be reteaming with Warren Ellis to score the film as they did with Hillcoat’s two previous films, “The Road” and “The Proposition.”
Release Date: April 20