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Woody Allen's Rome-Set Pic Has Working Title Of 'Bop Decameron,' Based On Boccaccio's Novellas

by Oliver Lyttelton
May 11, 2011 1:21 AM
9 Comments
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Allen & Roberto Benigni Confirmed To Be Taking Acting Roles In Project


Woody Allen's latest, "Midnight in Paris," unspools in Cannes tonight -- in fact, its screening to the press on the Croisette is already over. And we're cautiously optimistic. While Allen's recent London and New York excursions have varied from the disappointing ("Whatever Works," "You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger") to the disastrous ("Scoop," "Cassandra's Dream"), but when he ventured to more exotic climes, for "Vicky Christina Barcelona," the prolific writer-director ended up producing his best work in years, and the promising trailer for the Paris-set picture suggests it's firmly in the same groove.

We'll have our verdict on "Midnight in Paris" for you later in the day, but in the meantime Allen is, as usual, prepping for his next picture, which will this time see him travel to Rome, and he's started assembling a promising cast with Penelope Cruz reteaming with the director, along with Alec Baldwin, Jesse Eisenberg and Ellen Page. Now, some concrete details on the films' plot have started to emerge, as well as confirmation of a couple of cast members who've been rumored in the last few weeks.

Firstly, despite Allen himself giving the working title for the project as "The Wrong Picture," it seems that things have changed: the film is now going under the working title "Bop Decameron," according to Variety. As that might suggest, the script, described as "a major creative departure" will be loosely based on the Decameron, a collection of over 100 14th century novellas by Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio, which mostly focus on bawdy tales of love. It's not the first time that the Decameron's reached the screen -- the 1953 RKO anthology film "Decameron Nights," with Joan Fontaine, used a number of the stories, as did Pier Paolo Pasolini's 1971 film "The Decameron," and the disastrous 2007 Hayden Christensen vehicle "Virgin Territory." Variety also speculates that the 1962 film "Bocaccio 70," partly helmed by Fellini, is a possible inspiration for the project.

The plot will involve four unconnected vignettes, two of which involve American characters in the city, the other two involving Italian cast members -- and it seems likely that the latter two segments will actually be in Italian. Variety confirms that one of the actors in these segments, as rumored last week, looks likely to be "Life is Beautiful" Oscar winner Roberto Benigni, who's in advanced talks for the project. The piece also brings confirmation of something that Allen had hinted at previously, and then stated in an interview with USA Today: that he'll be appearing onscreen in the project, for the first time since 2006's "Scoop."

All in all, things are shaping up nicely -- although the health problems that have caused Alec Baldwin to attempt to withdraw from "Rock of Ages" may yet cause problems. More Italian casting should follow, and filming's set to get underway in Rome on July 11th. In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for our mammoth Woody Allen retrospective, which will hit alongside the U.S. release of "Midnight in Paris" next week.

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9 Comments

  • Kevin Jagernauth | May 12, 2011 7:06 AMReply

    Having just caught up with "Tall Dark Stranger" on the plane, I'll agree it's a "disappointment." It runs through the standard Allen gamut with a pretty laissez faire attitude. By time the third act started I sort of didn't care any more.

    Oddly enough, the cast was pretty good (Lucy Punch was hilarious) but the material was definitely second or third-rate Allen.

    But once again, it's good apartment/clothing porn if anything. Those bookshelves in the Watts/Brolin digs are great. And that grey dress Watts wears is a stunner.

  • profoblivion | May 11, 2011 7:00 AMReply

    Seriously, was this a critical piece, or just more gossip? Because it's the former, then you might want to justify your unintelligible and hasty opinions about Allen's previous work. Maybe you'll write an addendum backing up your not very informed "opinion" about them. But I'm guessing -- not.

  • dom | May 11, 2011 6:55 AMReply

    nice to see he's doing something different with the last 2 new pics... not just relationships in standard allen form but the 4 pieced unconnected vignettes sound different and paris certainly looks a little different from his latest stuff.

  • dom | May 11, 2011 6:53 AMReply

    not quite sure where the negative reaction to tall dark stranger comes from... i loved it... smart, funny, i think people need to relax and enjoy... he's become such an iconic figure that there's too much emphasis now... in the past his moves came and went good or mediocre and life went on...

    whatever works i liked too but a bit rambling in the first act

    never saw cassandra's dream

  • Oliver Lyttelton | May 11, 2011 6:16 AMReply

    Wow, khrodos. I had no idea that there were such rabid Cassandra's Dream fans out there. You're one of a kind. Literally, you're one of a kind.

  • Christopher Bell | May 11, 2011 5:52 AMReply

    Um, you're getting a little too personal there. Relax.

  • khrodos | May 11, 2011 5:18 AMReply

    It's a shame that you amateur indie know nothings presume to opine in your little on line news pieces. As if your quality of disappointment was worth making public. Save yourself some embarrassment if by chance you one day develop some taste and insight and just report the news.

  • RK | May 11, 2011 3:19 AMReply

    The reason that Virgin Territory did not make the volume it should have was because of it's irreverent take on sex, making it quite 'racy'. BUT if you REALLY view the film with a different lens you will see that Hayden Christensen gives a marvelous performance. Yes, it's quite a 'campy' film but quite entertaining. Hayden's ability to look like Errol Flynn on a horse and give it that humerous feeling is what makes the film so entertaining. I believe if the film had not been panned by critics, it would have done quite well at the box office but it seems any new actor that comes along is given an extremely hard time regarding their first few films...no matter what. Just look at Christian Bale and now he has an Academy Award and let's not forget Collin Firth's first films!

  • Proman | May 11, 2011 3:19 AMReply

    One of the biggest tradegies about being both a genius and a prolific director of great range is that some fools will inevitably be eclipsed by your your range. And Allen, one of true versatile masters of cinema, embodies that like no other. "You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger" was a glorious film - witty, deep, inventive, knowing but not at all judmental of it's characters - in a word a pure delight. Figures that some people will not get it. One would also hope that they would at least have some decency not to throw out words like "disasterous" towards a man, who has made (written, directed and starred in) more great films than perhaps any other filmmker. When will "critics" understand that when someone like Allen makes a film they are not the intended audience each and every time out? Or, I don't know, grow up a little?

    I cannot wait to see this film.

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