I pride myself on breaking any news on Steven Soderbergh and Woody Allen projects here (Joaquin Phoenix was formerly a part of that group, but he’s unofficially been replaced by M. Night Shyamalan), but Allen hasn’t been giving me much to report on recently. The last time I talked about him, he had cast his latest film, later named Wonder Wheel, with Kate Winslet, Justin Timberlake, Juno Temple, and Jim Belushi leading the pack. The film is set around 1950s Coney Island (which should look uh-may-zing under the lens of Vittorio Storaro), and there’s been some Oscar chatter about Winslet’s performance in it, which is likely the inciting factor for Amazon Studios choosing to release the film outside Allen’s normal July spot and on December 1 instead (of course, Cate Blanchett had no trouble winning the Oscar even when her performance had half a year to leave the minds of voters, but in the words of Allen’s very worst movie, whatever works). That is the news on that film, but as you can see, it’s not really enough to fill a whole piece. So instead I come here with news of Allen’s next next film, which I find to be very exciting indeed. It is also the closest thing to an exclusive scoop this site will ever get, because no other news outlet has the sheer balls to report based on comments on the AwardWatch forum, which in turn were based on the words of Jeffrey Wells (man, typing that out greatly lowers my confidence in this scoop, but I will persist).
I loathe to dignify Jeffrey Wells’ existence as a film blogger. He is a troglodyte wearing a poorly-fitted skin suit, and he is so loathsome (especially when women are involved) that whatever scoops he breaks are nothing compared to his failings as a human being. That being said, this piece of shit appears to have broken an actual scoop, and it is my duty to report on it.
Wells told a user at AwardWatch that a producer on Luca Guadagnino’s must-hyped gay romantic drama Call Me By Your Name told him that that film’s young star, Timothee Chalamet, will be the lead in Allen’s next film. Chalamet, whose biggest credit to date was playing the young version of Matthew McConaughey’s son in Interstellar, is poised to fully break out if Call Me By Your Name is half as good as critics who saw it at Sundance and assorted other festivals/screenings say it is, so Allen snagging him could be quite a get, and him being in an Allen film could be quite a victory lap.
But Chalamet is only one part of a cast that this user/Wells spilled the beans about. When asked who the female lead of the film would be, the user very strongly hinted at it being Elle Fanning (unless their clue about it being a “certain ~Neon Demon~” means that Jena Malone is romancing a teenager in this movie). Fanning is someone I’ve taken for granted until 20th Century Women (despite loving her in several films, including Neon Demon and Somewhere), where she matched the extraordinary work of a trio of established actors beat-for-beat (and the same year in Live by Night, she outshined almost everyone in a cast loaded with great, established actors). After that, I realized that she might be one of my favorite actors currently working, and her upcoming run of films for great indie directors (including John Cameron Mitchell, Melanie Laurent, Reed Morano, and Wadjda‘s Haifaa Al-Mansour) is only further encouraging that belief. Working with Allen feels like a natural progression in that run, and hopefully he doesn’t waste the opportunity he has to use her well.
The last name mentioned is not as good as Elle Fanning, but then again, who is? It’s Chloe Grace Moretz, who seems to be a bit of a controversial actor, if everyone on the AwardWatch forum calling her “Disgrace” is anything to go by. I haven’t been blown away by her yet (she was by far the weakest angle of the central triangle of actresses in Clouds of Sils Maria, but again, what fucking people she was up against), but, in the admittedly extremely small sample size of films I’ve seen of hers, I haven’t disliked her in a movie thus far. She’ll be playing Chalamet’s love interest in the film (Fanning is apparently his friend), and since Blake Lively unexpectedly impressed me in a similar role in Allen’s Cafe Society, I’m hopeful that she’ll do the same.
Now let’s look at these actors together. Chalamet and Moretz just inch into their 20s but can (and frequently) pass for younger, and Fanning is still 19, meaning that this will presumably be about teenagers. Allen has not made a film with a major teenager character since Everyone Says I Love You more than 20 years ago, and if the film is strictly about these characters, this will be his first film ever to focus on teenagers. I will be the first to admit that Allen dialogue can sound stilted in the mouths of full-grown adults, but I am very interested in seeing him writing for young characters and if he modulates any to fit them (I assume there’ll be fewer Kierkegaard references in this movie).