Within the last week, two directors–and not just any directors–but two heavy weight directors announced their next projects.
Jane Campion, an Academy Award winning writer for The Piano, often takes on dark subjects even though her films are often categorized as “period pieces.” (A categorization I find offensive, but that’s for another post.) Last Monday, it was announced that Campion is nearing a deal to direct an adaptation of Rachel Kushner’s novel, The Flamethrowers.
The Flamethrowers features a female protagonist and artist, Reno, in 1975 New York. She wants to create art about motorcycles and speed. Not having read the book yet, it presumably explores the 1970s New York art scene, which in real life, featured characters such as Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, and Jean Paul Basquiat. New York was on the verge of bankruptcy during the 70s, a fact few people know or remember, unless they were residents. With such an interesting backdrop for the potential film, it would be interesting to see a more stylized film from Campion.
Kathryn Bigelow, now ubiquitously known for being the first woman to win a Best Director Oscar, also announced her next project last week. But before we get to that, it’s rather ironic that Campion is possibly helming a film about the 1970s art world, as Bigelow was a product of the art scene in New York. Coincidentally, Bigelow’s first film, The Loveless, co-directed with Monty Montgomery, focused on a group of bikers. As much as it would be nice to see Bigelow’s take on the world she grew up in, if Campion ends up attaching herself to the adaptation, it will be interesting to see her interpretation of both the art world and the biker world.
Bigelow is attached to direct an adaptation as well. The True American, by Anand Giridharadas, is described on the publisher’s website as “a true story Raisuddin Bhuiyan, a Bangladesh Air Force officer who dreams of immigrating to America and working in technology. But days after 9/11, an avowed ‘American terrorist’ named Mark Stroman, seeking revenge, walks into the Dallas minimart where Bhuiyan has found temporary work and shoots him, maiming and nearly killing him”. The book has only been out for a few weeks, but apparently several production companies and studios were in a bidding war over the rights. Annapurna Pictures, Megan Ellison’s shingle, won the war and announced Bigelow would be helming the project. As of yet, there is no writer attached.
Bigelow’s last two films have been written by Mark Boal (a supposed third collaboration with Bigelow and Boal has been mentioned separately from True American but not confirmed) and his tight, journalistic writing has lent itself well to her directing style, producing numerous accolades for The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty.
Since Boal usually does his own reporting for scripts, it’s hard to imagine he would take on an adaptation of a story told by someone else, which leaves the question of who can do gritty, raw, journalistic writing in the film world?
Tony Gilroy certainly knows how to handle action, proven by the Bourne scripts, and is comfortable with a bit of legalese, proven by Michael Clayton. But Gilroy has also tried his hand at directing and it’s unknown if he would be okay taking a backseat to Bigelow. Zodiac was another film that came to mind, but James Vanderbilt, the writer, has gone on to work on the recent Spiderman films, so who knows if True American would be something which would pique his interest.
Boal has carved such an unique niche for himself, it’s hard to imagine anyone else filling his shoes. But Bigelow has such a visual acuity, it will be nice to see her taking on yet another true story film, no matter the writer.