Oscar winner Colin Firth has just added another project to his slate: the epic drama The Railway Man. The film will be directed by Jonathan Teplitzky (Better Than Sex, Burning Man) from Andy Paterson and Frank Cottrell Boyce, adapted from Eric Lomax‘s memoir of the same title. Lomax’s book focuses on the torture he experienced at the hands of the Japanese during his time working on the Burma-Siam Railroad (a.k.a. the bridge on the River Kwai) as a World War II POW. Upon learning decades later that one of his torturers was still alive, Lomax arranged to meet with him.

The story certainly sounds compelling and intense, and worthy of an actor of Firth’s talent. The Railway Man is set to begin shooting February in Great Britain, Thailand, and Australia. [Variety]

After the jump, Shirley Maclaine, Alan Arkin, and Vera Farmiga team up for a spin on Romeo & Juliet, and Thomas Haden Church signs up for a horror flick produced by Slash of Guns N’ Roses.

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If you happened to catch a screening of Attack the Block this summer, you probably walked away thinking the same thing we did: this John Boyega kid is going to be a huge star. Well, Boyega’s now landed his first part since Attack the Block opened, and it sounds like a great one. He’ll play the lead, Donnie, in HBO’s series Da Brick, a fictionalized telling of the earliest days of Mike Tyson‘s boxing career. Spike Lee is set to direct the pilot episode from a script by John Ridley (Three Kings), and will also executive produce along with Tyson, Ridley, Jim Lefkowitz, and Entourage creator Doug Ellin.

Da Brick centers around a young man in modern-day Newark, NJ who gets released from juvenile detention on his 18th birthday. The series will aim to deal with larger issues like “what it means to be a young, black man in supposedly post-racial America” and “what it means to be a man both for himself, and to those around him.” As long as the British Boyega can pull off a convincing Jersey accent, this seems like pitch-perfect casting. [Deadline]

After the jump, In Plain Sight‘s Rachel Boston faces a possible apocalypse with Julia Stiles and America Ferrera, and Harry Lloyd, a.k.a. Viserys Targaryen, joins Vera Farmiga and Mark Strong in Closer to the Moon.

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Briefly: Vera Farmiga and Mark Strong are going to Romania. The two have just been cast in a period story set in the country’s communist era. Closer to the Moon will feature the two actors in a politically-charged and strange-sounding tale that, given the insanity that reportedly took place in some Easern Bloc countries during the communist years, could almost be true.

Mark Strong will be Max Rosenthal, once a Bucharest cop and leader of a criminal investigation unity. He and four other men, all Jews, rob a bank right under the nose of onlookers, using a great cover story: “we’re shooting a movie!” (Cinematic immunity to the rescue, as always.) The crew is captured, tried and sentenced to death, with the strict sentence derived in part from their Jewish heritage. But before being killed they have to re-enact their heist for a government propaganda film. Farmiga will be “Max’s former lover and mother of his child, who returns from studying in Moscow as the drama unfolds.”

Nae Caranfil (The Rest is Silence, Philanthropy) will direct; we don’t know the screenwriter at this point. [Deadline]

Vera Farmiga first broke into Hollywood during the late ’90s, but it probably wasn’t until her acclaimed turn in The Departed that she truly caught the public’s attention. Since then, she’s developed a reputation (well deserved, IMO) as one of the strongest actresses working today.

And soon, we might be praising her work behind the camera as well. Farmiga is making her directorial debut with Higher Ground, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Based on a memoir by Carolyn Briggs, Higher Ground stars Farmiga as a woman struggling with her faith over the decades. Watch the trailer after the jump. Read More »

The film Safe House has been shooting for some time now, and it’s one that has our interest thanks to a great collection of talent: Snabba Cash director Daniel Espinosa makes his English-language debut with the movie and the cast is toplined by Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, with additional roles filled out by Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard and Robert Patrick.

Now, despite the fact that it’s a little late in the game, Vera Farmiga has been added to the cast. Read More »

Dexter creator James Manos, Jr. will be making his first stab (ha) at feature film directing with Love, Scotch and Death, from a screenplay he wrote about a character based on himself. And to play his cinematic stand-in, he’s picked a familiar face: everyone’s favorite serial killer, Dexter Morgan himself. Or rather, Michael C. Hall, the actor who plays Dexter Morgan on the Showtime series. Hall will be joined by Vera Farmiga, who’s also signed on to the project. Read more after the jump.

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Infographic: What Is ‘Source Code’

Check out this infographic for Moon director Duncan Jones‘ upcoming sci-fi action thriller Source Code, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga. The film tells the story of a soldier who “wakes up in the body of an unknown man and discovers he’s part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train.” In Groundhog Day-like repetition, he hopes to find the bomber and try to change history (if that is even possible?). The infographic illustrates his mission. Check it out after the jump.
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You won’t be seeing too many of the films that premiered at Sundance 2011 get a major release this year, but that’s not entirely bad news. Though most of the sales were on the small side, a solid 39 films walked away with a distribution deal of some kind. This means that — whether it be through VOD or a limited theatrical release — there’s a good chance that any Sundance flicks you’ve been interested in checking out upon reading our coverage will be available for viewing in some capacity. This may not be the glowing indie revival I’ve been hoping for, but given the state of Hollywood at the moment, I’ll take it.

As for the films that didn’t get picked up, there may be hope for them yet. Weeks have passed since the Sundance Film Festival ended, but the sales keep on coming. The three latest pictures to be acquired are Higher Ground (the directorial debut from Vera Farmiga, which she also stars), the documentary Magic Trip (co-written/co-directed by Alex Gibney, about the psychedelic ’60s cross-country bus tour taken by Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters) and another documentary entitled The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (about the Black Power and Black Panther movements in the US). Learn more after the break. Read More »

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