Oscar-winning oddball screenwriter Charlie Kaufman is putting together a cast for his next cinematic mind trip: Frank or Francis, a semi-musical satire that now has several big name actors attached to star.
Meanwhile, Robert Zemeckis continues to experience no difficulty in assembling a solid acting crew for his return to live-action filmmaking – a.k.a. Flight, a character-driven drama that features Denzel Washington as its leading man.
Production on Frank or Francis is slated to begin by January 2011, marking Kaufman’s sophomore turn in the director’s chair – after his 2008 release, Synecdoche, New York. Flight is gearing up to start shooting within the month, so as to ensure it reaches theaters by at least late 2012.
Frank or Francis
Academy Award-winner Kevin Kline is no stranger when it comes to playing both memorably eccentric characters (see: The Pirates of Penzance, A Fish Called Wanda, French Kiss, etc.) and comic relief (see: No Strings Attached, for a recent example onscreen). He’ll actually be doing both in Frank or Francis – which already includes Jack Black, Nicolas Cage, and Steve Carell as members of its cast.
Variety has confirmed that Kline is attached to appear in Frank or Francis, where he will play Richard Waller: the brother of a James Cameron-inspired director (Jonathan Waller) responsible for the highest grossing film of all time, “Hiroshima.” Kline is also going to portray “Richard’s Head,” an animatronic head that allows Jonathan to develop “a complete inoffensive product that will have the broadest possible appeal and zero artistic integrity.” Make of that what you will.
Black will be playing Francis, an intelligent, yet classless Internet troll/blogger who loves to berate the work of Frank (Carell) – a successful but pretentious filmmaker who is cheating on his wife. Lastly, Cage is playing the self-deprecatory role of “The Emcee”: an actor who makes a living by appearing in mainstream, high-concept movies with titles like “Fat Dad” (that joke writes itself).
Suffice it to say: Frank or Francis sounds like a marvelously dark musical comedy that aims to cut Hollywood – and even us movie bloggers - a new one. Filter that story through Kaufman’s often semi-experimental narrative structure and you have a final product that could be even more of a bizarre self-reflective exercise than the filmmaker’s Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, or even Synecdoche, New York (and that is really saying something).
Many Robert Zemeckis fans are glad to hear that the Oscar-winner will finally work on a project that features flesh-and-blood stars – minus the “enhancement” of motion-capture animation, that is – like Flight. Considering the cast includes names such as Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, and John Goodman, among others, is all the more welcome news.
THR has also learned that two other respected names are in talks to sign on for Flight: Melissa Leo, who earned an Oscar for her role in last year’s The Fighter, and James Badge Dale – an alumnus of HBO’s The Pacific who will also be appearing in two upcoming high-profile action flicks: The Grey and World War Z.
Flight will star Washington as a substance-abusing airline pilot who manages to successfully land a plane after it malfunctions – and becomes a hero for his efforts. However, a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) investigation headed by Leo’s character threatens to not only shatter Washington’s new found respectable public image – it would also affect the troubled pilot’s efforts to straighten himself out. Dale, for the record, will play a terminal cancer patient… one of the passengers on the almost-doomed flight, perhaps?
John Gatins (Real Steel) scripted the project, which certainly sounds like an emotionally-tumultuous melodrama on paper. Given the combined acting, writing, and directing talent involved, though, Flight seems poised to play out as a genuinely-engaging tale about troubled people – and not come off as manipulative or contrived. As always, here’s hoping for the best.
We will let you know when Frank or Francis has secured an official release date.
Flight doesn’t have a set U.S. release date either, but it’s pretty much guaranteed to reach theaters by the fourth quarter of 2012.
Source: Variety, THR