New indie flicks: Coens, Liman, and... Cruise?
Maverick filmmakers… remember them? Those bold indie freebooters who saved the movies in the ‘90s? They’re still around — most of them getting a little more comfortable with each passing year. Doug “Swingers” Liman, for example? He’s now Doug “The Bourne Identity/Mr. and Mrs. Smith” Liman. And soon to be Doug “Jumper” Liman. An adaptation of the richly absurd Tom Stoppard cerebrofarce Jumpers? ask the eggheads. Nay, sez I: an adaptation of the young-adult sci-fi novel about an abused youngster (how does one play a younger version of Hayden Christensen exactly?) who develops the ability to teleport. Which sounds like the just the mix of psychological realism and mainstream genre fantasy that Liman has come to embrace.
Still, I hope Liman returns to a project Sarah Polley (star of Liman’s epically underrated Go) told me about many Sundances ago: his Iran-Contra movie. For Liman, the subject must be very personal: His father, Arthur Liman, was chief counsel to the Senate Iran-Contra Committee. Could be his All the President’s Men — and after scads of hyperkinetic action pictures, I’d love to see him attack a brooding political drama. Can’t imagine what that would look like: And that’s why I like the idea so much. Anything that smudges the legacy of the recently deified President Reagan might run into financing trouble, I suspect; hey Doug, maybe it’s time to go indie again?
You can’t have an indie roundup without them durned Hermanos Coen, and here they are, out in Marfa, Tejas, adapting Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men. (Experts say it’s already better than All the Pretty Horses — because it kind of has to be, right?) They’re even using descendents of the extras from the 1956 James Dean drama Giant, also filmed in Marfa. What’s the story? Well, it’s a Coen movie, so… blood money? Check. Hit man? Check. Carnage? Check. Quirk? Bet on it.
Oh, and guess who’s also in Marfa. And also bankrolled jointly by Paramount Vantage and Miramax. Another indie icon, P.T. Anderson, shooting his first movie since Punch Drunk Love: an adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s Oil! titled There Will Be Blood. Will the tiny town be big enough for the both of them? Hopefully…
…because Hollywood’ s newest indie filmmaker might be the next to show up.