Kevin Kline Cast in Charlie Kaufman's New Film About Online Critics
Oh boy, now this sounds interesting. Variety is confirming casting news that a new project from Charlie Kaufman, the second film he'll direct following Synecdoche New York, titled Frank or Francis, will now feature Kevin Kline in two supporting roles in the film. Here's the best part about it - the project is a satire of Hollywood set to music, that chronicles the back-and-forth between a movie director and an online film critic who delights in "berating his cinematic talent". Jack Black is set to star as the online film critic, with Steve Carell playing a successful director, and Nicolas Cage as "The Emcee", a famous actor. Here we go.
Since the casting was revealed a few months ago, details have finally started coming out confirming that the plot is indeed about an online film critic versus a filmmaker, with some extra Kaufman craziness thrown in. In an update yesterday, The Playlist says that the script makes fun of the film industry in all of its forms: "not only, the graffiti-with-punctuation bloggers, but the entire machine: fatuous filmmakers, vapid PR people, self-absorbed writers, blowhard actors, and last but not least it serves up a jiujitsu-like takedown on the ego-driven, vacuous meat-parade that is the Academy Awards." Intrigued to see how it plays out. Despite all that, in the end "it also says a lot of things about society, culture, human nature (and race) and human behavior—albeit some of it in his patently strange and sometimes baffling way." Of course.
Kaufman recently commented on the project himself in an interview with Time Out London, where he spoke about it not being as much of an attack on anyone as it is a setup for a world for him to play in, as always. But who knows, it sounds like a very interesting story for him to tell right now. Kaufman's comments:
"If I look at some of the things in the script that I'm about to embark on, I'd have to say I don’t really have any idea how we're going to do it. I've been pretty good at keeping logistics away from the writing process… The movie I'm about to do has got a lot of scenes and a lot of characters. And the scope of it and the world it inhabits is very, very large. In the broadest possible sense, it's about online film criticism, but as usual, the world that I'm writing about is not necessarily the world that I'm writing about. It's just a place to set it…"
"There's a lot in there about the internet and anger: cultural, societal and individual anger. And isolation in this particular age we live in. And competition: it's about the idea of people in this world wanting to be seen. I hate to use the word 'about', as it implies that what I’m doing is an analogy and that I'm trying to say something. I'm not. That’s for the audience to do."
Indeed. Kaufman always has that viewpoint that it's up to the audience to make what they will of his films. I can definitely tell that's how this is going to be perceived, some in one way, others another. Variety's update on the casting says that Jack Black will play Francis, a "charmless yet extremely intelligent internet troll who reviews movies online." I think I might know a few of those. Additionally, Steve Carell is in talks to play Frank, a "successful, somewhat pretentious filmmaker who is cheating on his wife", and Nicolas Cage will play The Emcee, an "actor famous for commercial, high-concept films including his most recent hit, Fat Dad." Kline will be playing two roles, the first is Richard Waller, brother of Jonathan Waller, director of a fictional film titled Hiroshima, the highest-grossing movie of all-time. Ha! The characters he has in this…
Kline's other role, and this may be a spoiler for those that don't want to know too much this early, is that of "Richard's Head", an animatronic head that, "through the use of advanced screenwriting techniques, helps Jonathan develop a completely inoffensive product that will have the broadest possible appeal and zero artistic integrity." This is starting to sound amazing, but where is Kaufman taking the story? Production is slated to start in January, with Likely Story's Anthony Bregman (Synecdoche New York, Please Give, Our Idiot Brother) producing. They're still looking to fill two female singing roles, which may be part of the musical component. What a wacky production this is, but I can't wait to see it, not only because it touches upon my own world, but because Kaufman is always expected to deliver something completely cerebral.
Glad to hear that casting is coming together already and that it might be ready by the end of 2012. To put a wrap on this news, The Playlist exclaimed this at the end of their thoughts on the script: "Suffice to say, goddamit, yes, let this movie be made and maybe there won't be a need for any movies after it." When and if this gets made next year, it sounds like we're definitely in for something very unique, only from the mind of Kaufman. I'm sure it'll be meta, but very interesting, to see. We'll keep you updated on his latest project.