By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist May 11, 2011 at 1:21AM
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.