Some may argue Lisa Cholodenko‘s been quiet since The Kids Are All Right, but behind-the-scenes news indicates she’s busy as ever. The writer-director is already developing a family comedy with Steve Carell — one with the sure-to-be-shortened title of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day — and writing a TV version of her Best Picture nominee in the meantime. But, regardless, Laurel Canyon fans are a notoriously impatient bunch, and they probably want to know more very soon.
Lucky for them, Cholodenko was part of a little get-together at Columbia University earlier this week, whereat it was personally announced that two projects (of varying content) are being zeroed in on at this moment. The first of these is more a confirmation: The Abstinence Teacher, a picture that, back in Febraury of 2011, we had heard she was circling with the intent to helm. The film — once a potential Little Miss Sunshine follow-up for Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton — adapts a novel from Tom Perrotta (Little Children), itself the story of a mid-Western sex-ed teacher facing persecution from her town’s conservative denizens, while also finding some romantic interest in her daughter’s born-again Christian soccer coach.
Those two roles were once carved out for Sandra Bullock and Steve Carell — you don’t need me to tell you who’d get what — though their involvement is an undecided thing at the moment. Take the development of Alexander as some kind of positive sign, if need be.
Then there’s an entirely new, much more rugged project. In this case, I refer to Wild: Lost and Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, a non-fiction memoir (by Cheryl Strayed) that she’ll develop for Reese Witherspoon, who’s slated to both produce and lead. (Although Strayed reached out to the actress and hoisted the project upon her, Cholodenko gave it a once-over and, in her own words, “somehow got involved in it.”)
The real-life tale follows Strayed, a twenty-two-year-old grieving over the recent loss of her mother and bad end to a marriage. With this massive, sudden shift in her life being all-consuming, she takes it upon herself to make a solo hike across “the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State” — all with the hope of figuring out where things are really headed.
There’s plenty of critical potential in the story, but, right now, Alexander is trying to nail down its cast and get Carell‘s schedule to fit in with everyone else’s plans. It’s still an exciting time for Cholodenko, all-around, especially with some newfound clout at her disposal; I’d love to see a retention of the voice that made her a big figure in independent cinema, too.
Do you see promise in what these projects may bear? Which are you most interested in?
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