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If Inside Llewyn Davis whet your appetite to see a lot more from actor Oscar Isaac, the new Patricia Highsmith adaptation The Two Faces of January is hitting at just the right time. The film stars Isaac, Viggo Mortensen, and Kirsten Dunst in a story about a vacationing couple, not exactly squeaky lean folk, who fall into a business relationship with a scamming “tour guide.” When the couple gets into some serious trouble they call upon the guide for less-than-legal assistance.

Highsmith wrote many of her prime thrillers in the ’50s and ’60s, and like another well-known Highsmith adaptation The Talented Mr. Ripley, this film preserves the time period in which the novel was written. In this case, the setting is 1962, which gives director Hossein Amini (who wrote Drive) plenty of opportunity to photograph his attractive cast in great period costumes. Check out a trailer below, which also acts as a chance to see Mortensen in a relatively rare turn as an out and out heavy. Read More »

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The work of Patricia Highsmith has been good to kickstart a solid movie or two. Maybe you’ve heard of some of them: The Talented Mr. Ripley; The American Friend; Cry of the Owl; and a little one called Strangers on a Train. And even though some of her work has also lead to less impressive efforts, I’m always interested to see where a Highsmith movie goes.

We learned a while ago that Hossein Amini, who wrote the original draft of Drive, is planning to make his directorial debut with a new adaptation of the book The Two Faces of January. He’s had Viggo Mortensen waiting to make the movie, and now Drive co-star Oscar Isaac, also seen in Che, Body of Lies, and Sucker Punch, has signed on, too. They’ll play a con artist and a new acquaintance who get involved in some difficult and shady dealings in a foreign country. Read More »

Zach Helm doesn’t have too many produced screenplays on his resume at this point, but the writer got off to an auspicious start with 2006′s flawed but charming Stranger Than Fiction before making his directorial debut with 2007′s Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, which he also wrote. Although the latter wasn’t quite as well received as the former, he’s got a couple of projects on his upcoming slate that sound promising.

The first is Errol Morris’ Freezing People is Easy, an adaptation of Robert Nelson’s cryogenic preservation memoir We Froze the First Man, which cast Owen Wilson, Kristen Wiig, and Christopher Walken last week. Now he’s also been tapped to write Deep Water, a “dark, sexy comedy” based on the thriller by Patricia Highsmith.

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Patricia Highsmith must surely be one of the most adapted authors in the history of cinema with her Ripley books alone giving us five theatrical features. Her novel Strangers on a Train has also been filmed a good few times, with varying degrees of success and fidelity. The most famous version, not to mention the most brilliant was Hitchcock’s film, and there is also a likely-redundant do-over currently in development. There really are some foolhardy folk in the movie industry, aren’t there?

As yet unfilmed, I believe, is her novel Deep Water, now over fifty years old without a single adaptation. This will change in the coming months, however, as Mike Nichols has been attached to realise it cinematically with Joe Penhall, writer of the upcoming adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, set to handle scripting duties for him. Nichols we can all vouch for, and Penhall’s certainly drawing some positive attentions.

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