Frank or Francis

Charlie Kaufman

In an interview with Moviefone, Elizabeth Banks had some sad news to deliver: Charlie Kaufman’s Frank or Francis “fell apart at the last minute.” Banks was set to co-star along with Catherine Keener, Nic Cage, Jack Black, Steve Carell and Kevin Kline. The film was to be an exploration of filmmaking, Hollywood culture, criticism, and probably a dozen other things but more importantly…it was new, original work from Charlie Kaufman. The Playlist has learned that the movie is simply postponed, but it’s time to start drinking nonetheless. Why? Because there’s no such thing as “dead” in filmmaking; only “postponed.” Of course, that comes with the optimism that Kaufman can make it happen one day. Hopefully soon.

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A few days ago I reported on a story that two former female leads from Charlie Kaufman movies would both be working with the writer again, this time on his next directorial effort Frank or Francis. It turns out that was only half right. While Catherine Keener does appear to be attached to the film, buried in a report about Paul Reubens joining the cast is confirmation from THR that Kate Winslet has not. That’s a pretty big blow to my enthusiasm for the added girl power that this movie would have gotten by casting both Keener and Winslet, and the inclusion of Pee-Wee does little to soften the blow. Fortunately for me, there’s some more news that does soften the blow a bit. In another report, THR says that Elizabeth Banks has joined the cast, and in a role that sounds like it has some potential for hilarity. As we know already, Steve Carell and Jack Black are playing the title characters, a director and a film blogger who come into conflict with one another over a series of bad reviews. Well, it appears that Banks will be playing the Carell character’s girlfriend, an actress who keeps making “formulaic comedy bombs.” Seeing as the focus of this movie is the world of filmmaking vs. the world of film criticism, I’m imagining that Banks’ character will provide some delicious jabs sent the way of actresses like Kate Hudson and Katherine Heigl, the undisputed queens of the formulaic comedy bomb.

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Kate Winslet and Catherine Keener

Charlie Kaufman’s directing followup to Synecdoche, New York has been in the casting stage for a while now, and already it has compiled an impressive core of male actors. Names like Steve Carrell, Jack Black, and Nicolas Cage have attached themselves to the picture, and Kaufman has even made a play at securing Paul Blart. So far there’s been a lack of news about who might play any of the female parts, however. This movie, that seems designed to take the wind out of our movie blogging sails, was looking like a real sausage fest. That’s all changed in a big way though. Vulture is reporting that two phenomenal actresses, Kate Winslet and Catherine Keener, have just signed on to join an already stellar cast. That’s some added girl power that might take even the Spice Girls aback for a minute. News of Winslet and Keener’s involvement on any project would be met with quite a bit of enthusiasm already, but when you factor in that both of these actresses have worked very successfully with Charlie Kaufman material before, things kind of get kicked up a notch.

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Quirky writer Charlie Kaufman just may be the closest thing that modern Hollywood has to a mad genius. He captivated and delighted audiences and critics alike with his screenplays for Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and then he confused audiences and critics alike with his directorial debut Synecdoche, New York. Whatever he does is at least always interesting, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he serves up his second time behind the camera.

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