Russell Brand

Werner Herzog is currently out in the desert for his Gertrude Bell biopic Queen of the Desert, but soon he’ll focus on some arid Americana. His next film is slated to be Vernon God Little, based on the novel by DBC Pierre that won the Booker Prize after its 2003 publication. The novel is set in a small Texas border town, where a high school student shoots six fellow students before taking his own life.

Now Russell Brand, Sasha Pieterse of Pretty Little Liars, and young actor Austin Abrams (The InBetweeners) are in talks for major roles in the film.

Update: Mike Tyson and Pamela Anderson also have roles. If your lifelong dream is the same as mine (to see Herzog direct Pamela Anderson) then this movie just became a must-see.

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The Wind Rises

Briefly: Joseph Gordon-Levitt is having a big news day. He’s attached to adapt Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and he’s now officially been revealed as the lead voice in Disney’s English-language release of Hayao Miyazaki‘s final film, The Wind Rises.

Gordon-Levitt will voice Jiro Horikoshi, a talented engineer who spends his life building planes, only to realize he can’t fix everything. The actor will be joined by an impressive list of names including his Looper co-star Emily Blunt, her husband John Krasinski, as well as Martin Short, Stanley Tucci, Mandy Patinkin, William H. Macy, Werner Herzog (!), Mae Whitman, Jennifer Grey, Darren Criss, Elijah Wood and Ronan Farrow.

The English dubbed version will be released February 21. [USA Today]

Homeland Damian Lewis

Briefly: For a couple years, Werner Herzog has been moving towards a new dramatic feature, Queen of the Desert, which will chronicle the story of pioneering anthropologist/explorer/political advisor Gertrude Bell. While Naomi Watts was once set to play Bell, the role will now be filled by Nicole Kidman. To play Bell’s paramour, Lt. Col. Charles Doughty-Wylie, Herzog has now recruited Damian Lewis, whose notable recent work is on the Showtime series Homeland.

Deadline reports that the film will shoot beginning in December of this year.

The character to be played by Lewis was a British war hero who, while married, engaged in an affair with Bell during the last years of his life. But it was a very chaste affair, conducted entirely via letter correspondence. How does that become a compelling screen story? There can be quite a lot of narration and longing looks aimed to a point off-screen, for starters. But this could also be a device to let the screen version of Bell voice observations and frustrations as she goes about her work building what became the the early political incarnation of the modern Middle East.

 

Nicole Kidman

Longtime BFFs Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts have quite a bit in common. Both are fair-complected Australians who’ve gotten attention from Oscar in the past, and who hope to attract still more by playing princesses this fall. (Watts has Diana, Kidman has Grace of Monaco.) Naturally, then, when Werner Herzog needed a replacement for one, he turned to the other.

Kidman has entered talks to take over for Watts on Queen of the Desert, a fact-based epic about the “female Lawrence of Arabia” Gertrude Bell. Watts had been attached to the lead since 2011. Hit the jump for all the details.

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I’ll listen to Werner Herzog read any script — even the lightly written villain role in Jack Reacher — and so the appearance of a new Herzog documentary is a thing of many pleasures. First, there’s his extraordinary ability to capture documentary subjects. Then there’s his tendency towards the pursuit of “ecstatic truth,” which is Herzog’s term for a depiction of reality that isn’t true, strictly speaking, but uses the false to probe towards an inaccessible truth.

And then there’s Herzog’s scripting and narrating, the combo of which always sets his efforts apart from other documentaries. I don’t know how much of Herzog we’ll hear in Happy People: A Year in the Taiga, as this trailer is mostly comprised of images, free of any decorative narration. But those images look incredible, and this film (co-directed with Dmitry Vasyukov) could be a perfect companion to Encounters at the End of the World.

See the trailer below. Read More »

Here are two TV spots for the Tom Cruise vehicle Jack Reacher, in which Cruise plays the ex-MP wanderer of the film’s title. Created by author Lee Child, Jack Reacher is a character who lives in more than a dozen novels full of violence and danger. And while the trailers for the film, and these spots, demonstrate that the violence is indeed a part of the big-screen incarnation, they also suggest that it is a bit less dangerous.

But at least director Werner Herzog plays the bad guy, and the first of two spots below will give you just a bit of a taste of his approach, in case you missed him in the last theatrical trailer.  Read More »

Can Robert Pattinson fill the shoes of Peter O’Toole? More important, can he match the defining Lawrence of Arabia when it comes to humanity and gravitas?

You may recall that Werner Herzog has been prepping a film called Queen of the Desert, in which Naomi Watts is set to play English writer, explorer, and archaeologist Gertrude Stein. Now Pattinson has been attached to play T.E. Lawrence, aka Lawrence of Arabia, in Herzog’s film. Lawrence was a colleague and friend to Bell, and casting Pattinson suggests that he’ll figure prominently in Herzog’s take on Bell’s history. Read More »

Below is a new look at Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher, the title character of Christopher McQuarrie‘s upcoming Paramount film. It’s an old trick to say that Cruise just looks like Cruise here, because of course he does — that’s the whole point of hiring someone at his level of fame, especially to anchor an action thriller.

The film Jack Reacher adapts Lee Child‘s novel One Shot, in which the presence of itinerant former military policeman Jack Reacher is requested by a man accused of killing several people at random with a sniper rifle. The weird thing is: Reacher once arrested the same guy, a former serviceman, for another crime, and so he can’t figure out why the guy now seems to want his help. The film also features a supporting cast with some attention-getting names: Werner Herzog as the villain, and Rosamund Pike, Robert Duvall, Richard Jenkins and Michael Raymond-James (so good in Terriers) in other roles.

Check out the first real image of Cruise as Reacher below. Read More »

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