The ‘Artist In The Making’ Storyline
Left: Goodbye Christopher Robin,
and [mouse over] Mary Shelley
However, some instances represent a romanticised view, making the behind-the-scenes story, which should be realistic where it is based on a real-life figure, into a stereotype. This was generally a problem with Hollywood biopics about artists, and it still continues, as the example at left indicates.
Below are several dozen upcoming titles listed A-Z by artist. This is possible as nearly all are about real-life artists. This omits films about fictional or rather fictitious writers, though the only currrent/ upcoming examples here seem to be The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society, which looks like a crossover with the 'away-break crisis' storyline, where we now have it listed, and Really Love, scripted by Felicia A. Pride and director Angel Kristi Williams. This is a romantic drama which “follows the life of a starving artist in gentrifying Washington D.C. who is struggling to find his place in the prestigious art world. When a young law student unexpectedly comes into his life, he must choose between a whirlwind romance and his budding career as a successful painter.”
|A-Z Of Upcoming Releases, By Artist/Subject|
Adapted by Reinhard Denke from Antheil’s autobiography Bad Boy Of Music, Radiant
“centers around early 20th century musical radical
and multi-hyphenate Antheil and his unlikely friendship with movie star Hedy Lamarr.”
Angela Carter: Angela Carter: Of Wolves & Women, a 1-hr BBC documentary-drama about the life and work of the author of Company Of Wolves etc, is to be shown on BBC2 in August 2018 and released on iPlayer.
Colette: Written in 2001 by director Wash Westmoreland and his [late] partner/husband Richard Glatzer, Colette focuses on the French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette [best known abroad for Gigi] and her first marriage to another author who stole credit for works she had written. (“When Colette starts ghostwriting for him and her writing goes beyond anything he’s ever written, it becomes a popular widespread brand that leads to her fighting for rights to her work. This spills into Colette blazing a trail to overcome oppressive gender roles and societal constraints, making her revolutionize literature, fashion, and sexual expression.”)
Right: Keira Knightley and Dominic West as Colette and Henry Gauthier-Villars.
Dali: Written by John Walsh and director Mary Harron, the feature biopic Dali Land
will focus on "the unusual marriage of the surrealist artist and his domineering 'wife and muse',
Gala". ("In 1973, a young gallery assistant goes on
a wild adventure behind the scenes as he helps the aging genius Salvador Dali prepare for a big
show in New York.")
Blaze Foley: The biopic Blaze, written by director Ethan Hawke and Sybil Rosen, based on her memoir Living In The Woods In A Tree: Remembering Blaze Foley is inspired by the life of "the unsung songwriting legend of the Texas outlaw music movement that spawned the likes of Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson … the film explores his love affair with Rosen; his final performance in a near-empty honky-tonk; his last, dark night on earth; and the impact that his songs and his death had on his fans, friends, and foes."
James Frey: The R-rated drama A Million Little Pieces is adapted by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and his life-partner director Sam Taylor-Johnson, from Frey's controversial 2003 book [a 'memoir' which proved largely fictional]. ("A young drug-addled writer approaching the bottom of his descent submits to two months of agonizing detox at a treatment center in Minnesota.")
Judy Garland: The feature Judy, adapted by Tom Edge and Peter Quilter (from Quilter’s stage play "End Of The Rainbow"), covers her 1968 final London concert tour the year before her death.
Gloria Grahame: Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool, scripted by Paul McGuigan from Peter Turner’s memoir, is another drama covering an actress’s final years - “the true story of the unexpected romance that bloomed between a young English actor (Jamie Bell) and an aging Hollywood diva —Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening), remembered for her turns in It’s a Wonderful Life and The Bad and the Beautiful”.
Pam Grier: The actress is developing her own life story as a biopic with the working title Pam, scripted by Bennie Richburg from Grier’s own memoir. (Though better-known now for the Tarantino film Jackie Brown, PG had a career which blossomed in the ‘blaxploitation’ boom of the 70s, while she lived with 70s black male celebrities Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Richard Pryor and Freddie Prinze.)
George Frederick Handel:
The comedy-drama Hallelujah! written by Jon Croker and Nicholas Adams, will
focus on the Georgian court composer (to be played by Ralph Fiennes), as he prepares for the
premiere of his masterpiece, 'Messiah'.
Above and left: Annette Bening and Jamie Bell in Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool
Jackson: The feature drama Shirley is being adapted by Sarah Gubbins from Susan
Scarf Merrell’s 2014 novel, which tells the story of a young couple who move in with the
famous horror author and her husband in their 1950s Vermont college town.
James Joyce: James And Lucia, written by director Robert Mullan, will focus on the nearly-blind expatriate author’s relationship with his schizophrenic daughter, whose fragmented speech patterns may have helped inspire the prose style of his experimental final novel Finnegans Wake.
Adam Kay: This Is Going To Hurt will be an 8 x 45-min BBC Two comedy-drama series adapted by former junior doctor turned tv writer/performer Adam Kay from his own recently-published bestselling memoir of his NHS days. (“Set on a labour ward, it documents the heart-lifting highs and gut-wrenching lows, offering a brutally honest depiction of life as a junior doctor and the toll the job can take back home. Kay scribbled his diaries in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, and tells of the 97-hour weeks, the life and death decisions, the constant tsunami of bodily fluids and the fact the hospital parking meter earns more than doctors.”)
Doug Kenney: Already in release (or has it escaped?) is Netflix’s A Futile And Stupid Gesture, a comedy biopic of the co-creator of National Lampoon magazine, adapted by John Aboud and Michael Colton from the biography by Josh Karp, covering the magazine’s 1970s “rise and fall.” (After co-writing the hit films Animal House and Caddyshack, Kenney died of a drug OD, age 33.)
Laurel and Hardy: The BBC tv drama feature Stan And Ollie written by Jeff Pope covers the pair’s poorly-attended farewell tour of Britain in 1953, which took them to Glasgow, where Laurel had begun his on-stage career. [Note – this was announced last year as Stan And Ollie On Monday In The West Country.]
Vivien Leigh: This yet-untitled FremantleMedia tv series [with the star played by Natalie Dormer] is being adapted by Stewart Harcourt [Churchill’s Secret], drawing partly on Kendra Bean’s 2013 biography, Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait. “the aim is to center each episode on a specific project the Streetcar Named Desire actor worked on. In that context of 1940s Hollywood and its shell of glamour and global scope, plus Tony Award winner Leigh’s 20-year marriage to Laurence Olivier, issues of mental health, career, female empowerment or the lack thereof, and love will be explored in the series.”
L.S. Lowry: This biopic, written by Martyn Hesford [Kenneth Williams: Fantabulosa!], is titled Mrs Lowry & Son as it details the painter’s life with his bed-bound but domineering mother, with whom he lived all his life, despite her dismissive attitude to his art. (“... a rent collector by day, Lowry took art classes in the evening and painted into the early hours to become one of the most significant artists of the 20th Century.”)
Hattie McDaniel: A biopic is in development about the 'Gone With the Wind' supporting star [born to former slaves], who was nearly blocked by segregation rules from attending the Oscars ceremony where she won Best Supporting Actress.
Robert Mapplethorpe: The biopic Mapplethorpe, adapted by Mikko Alanne and director Ondi Timoner, about the American avant-garde NYC-based photographer whose work became a cause celebre before his premature death in 1989 age 42 from AIDS, apparently focuses on his life, “from moments before he and Patti Smith moved into the famed Chelsea hotel in the early ’70s, where he begins photographing its inhabitants and newfound circle of friends including artists and musicians, socialites, film stars and members of the S&M underground. The boundary-pushing work made him one arguably one of the most important artists of the 20th century.”
Freddie Mercury: Now in post-production, Bohemian Rhapsody, scripted by Anthony McCarten from a story by him and Peter Morgan, is about the lead singer’s return to the concert circuit with his rock band Queen, with flashbacks to earlier days. “Having suffered greatly without the collaboration of Queen, Freddie manages to reunite with his bandmates just in time for Live Aid. While bravely facing a recent AIDS diagnosis, Freddie leads the band in one of the greatest performances in the history of rock music.”
Michelangelo: Written by South African author Richard Mason, the scripted drama Michelangelo, in early development at Hulu, “will detail the life of the brilliant and troubled artist, told through a modern lens that delves into the sexuality, relationships, alliances and betrayals in the volatile world of 16th Century Florence.”
Christopher Robin Milne:
Not to be confused with last year’s Goodbye Christopher Robin [which focused on
how the Pooh stories came to be, post-WWI], this Disney production, scripted by Alex Ross Perry
and Allison Schroeder is from a story by Perry, and simply titled Christopher Robin.
(An alternate credits list gives the script as by Alex Ross Perry, Tom McCarthy, and Allison
Schroeder, from a story by Greg Brooker and Mark Steven Johnson.) This finds the now-grown subject
/muse/ source of inspiration/ character (of his father AA Milne's 4 volumes of poems and prose
stories) in midlife crisis just after WW2, having lost touch with his inner child.
“An adult Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) is an overworked London businessman who’s
apparently not been spending nearly enough time with wife Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and daughter
Madeline (Bronte Carmichael). When he’s ordered to work yet another weekend, Christopher’s
stuffed childhood pals arrive to set things right.” (While the former film was fact-based,
the new one seems just a stock Disneyesque setup for a parable about not losing touch with your
childhood. In reality, CR as an adult found his complex literary role uncomfortable and later
wrote a memoir, The Enchanted Places, pub. 1974, trying to put his childhood memories in context.
He was not really a 'London businessman' but from 1951 ran a bookshop in Dartmouth.)
Sir James Murray: The language scholar Murray was the compiler of the original Oxford English Dictionary, and The Professor And The Madman is based on the 1998 nonfiction book by journalist Simon Winchester, adapted by Winchester, John Boorman, Todd Komarnicki and director Farhad Safinia. (A definitive literary reference work, the 12-volume OED was the first dictionary organised on 'historical principles', tracing the etymology and evolution of words and meanings, and took 70 years to complete.) The largely self-taught Murray had to work without university support, and in fact the OED’s major outside contributor was a US Army surgeon convicted of murder, who had been driven mad by his military experiences and was a patient in an asylum for the criminally insane.
Vanessa Redgrave and Timothy Spall in Mrs Lowry & Son
Left and immediately below -The 21-episode series Genius: Picasso.
The White Crow, directed by Ralph Fiennes from a script by David Hare
based on Julie Kavanaugh's book Rudolf Nureyev: The Life, ‘charts the iconic
dancer's famed defection from the Soviet Union to the West in 1961, despite KGB efforts to stop
Right, below: Upstart Crow - the ‘Macbeth inspiration’ episode [S02E05].
Mary Shelley: The
feature biopic Mary Shelley written by first-time screenwriter Emma Jensen and director
Haifaa al-Mansour, is now out, covering her formative years, when as a teenager she broke away
from her famous parents (both radical writers), and ran off with the poet Percy Shelley, culminating
in her authoring Frankenstein in 1816.
Left: Mary Shelley:  the famous 1816 literary getogether which gave rise to Frankenstein, and  [mouse over image] Douglas Booth and Elle Fanning as Percy Shelley and Mary.
There may be two separate biopics upcoming about the author who popularised the ‘fighting
fantasy’ genre. Now in post-production, Tolkien, written by David Gleeson and Stephen
Beresford for Chernin Entertainment / Fox Searchlight, is synopsized on IMDB as “Tolkien
explores the formative years of the orphaned author as he finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration
among a group of fellow outcasts at school." /”J.R.R. Tolkien, a love lorn soldier,
draws from an epic life on his return from the Great War to create one of the greatest works of
literature in The Lord of the Rings".
Focusing on his friendship with fellow Oxford fantasy author CS Lewis, Tolkien & Lewis was announced [with an $18 million budget and Simon West attached as director] a while back as due to appear Easter 2015 from indie outfit Attractive Films, but is still listed as in development on IMDB. "Lewis becoming the poster boy for Christianity upset Tolkien. And obsessive genius Tolkien is blocked, terrified of finishing The Fellowship of the Ring, for fear of the strange, psychotic visions which torture him." Confusingly, there is a one-hour docudrama, Tolkien & Lewis: Myth, Imagination & The Quest For Meaning written by its director Chip Duncan, released as a TV movie at Easter 2017.
Valentino: The Russian indie biopic Silent Life (out May 2019), written by Natalia Dar, Ksenia Jarova and director Vladislav Kozlov (who will also play Valentino), is about the silent star’s final days in a NY hospital in 1926.
Van Gogh: The just-completed At Eternity’s Gate is “about Vincent Van Gogh’s ambition to be accepted as a great painter, and his plunge into depression when he was rejected”. Written by director Julian Schnabel and Jean-Claude Carrière [Belle de Jour], it is set at Arles in the late 1880s, two years before his death, probably by self-inflicted gunshot.
Han van Meegeren: In post-production is Lyrebird, written by Mark Fergus, John Orloff, and Hawk Ostby, about the 1940s Dutch master forger of paintings who fooled Goering and many others with his fake Vermeers, and became a national hero before dying in prison.
Jules Verne: In development, the family-oriented 3D CGI animated feature Little Jules Verne, written by ‘Ange’ [=Anne and Gérard Guèro], Pierre-Gilles Stehr and Michel Hazanavicius [The Artist], is “a reimagining of the young Verne’s life and inspirations in 19th century Europe.”
Catherine Weldon, aka ‘Woman Walks Ahead’: Just released in the US is Woman Walks Ahead, written by Steven Knight, about how Catherine Weldon, "a portrait painter from 1890s Brooklyn, travels to Dakota to paint a portrait of Sitting Bull and becomes embroiled in the Lakota peoples' struggle over the rights to their land.”
Left: Jessica Chastain as painter
Catherine Weldon in Woman Walks Ahead
Orson Welles: The Other Side Of The Wind, Welles’ long unfinished semi-autobiographical final film [begun in 1970], from a screenplay he co-wrote with actress Oja Kodar, looks like it will finally appear [on Netflix], having been delayed by rights litigation. It stars actor/director John Huston “as a temperamental film director battling with Hollywood executives to finish a movie”. (“The character portrayed by Huston originated from an encounter between Ernest Hemingway and Welles in 1937 … in which a whiskey-drinking Hemingway threw a chair at Welles. Welles decided to use Hemingway as the primary model for Huston’s character.”)
Oscar Wilde: Written
by its star and director Rupert Everett, The Happy Prince covers Wilde’s final
years in exile after his imprisonment for gross indecency, with the title taken from a fairytale
Wilde wrote, here evidently used as an ironic frame of reference.
Above: The Happy Prince
Left: Rupert Everett in The Happy Prince
[c] Storylines In Review 2018