Surprise, surprise: famous people and big companies have an interest in the latest Steven Soderbergh picture. The Hollywood Reporter reports from Hollywood that his Panama Papers movie, The Laundromat, has secured Meryl Streep as “the emotional throughline,” which could mean literally anything depending on the source’s perspective — per Deadline, possibly “an anonymous whistleblower” — while Antonio Banderas and Gary Oldman have been engaged in early talks. Juicing up this project a bit more, though evidence you might not see this in a movie theater, is word that Netflix has taken active interest in production.
Said project comes from a script by Scott Z. Burns (of Soderbergh’s own The Informant!, Contagion, and stage play The Library) and Jake Bernstein’s Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers Investigation of Illicit Money Networks and the Global Elite. (Nice work on reading that and extrapolating from it “the laundromat.”) A Soderbergh-ready lesson in how rich and powerful people use riches and power to fuck over those less rich and powerful, the Panama Papers at first seems to reveal tax-free dealings among the 1% before pulling back the curtain on intensely illegal activity coursing through the global market’s veins. How Banderas’ involvement might relate to longtime collaborator Pedro Almodovar being cited as a participant — or however many Soderbergh / Burns / Oldman / Streep / Netflix associates, because it’s impossible that the connections run dry — should be fun.
For greater insight into the scandal (sorry!), here’s a synopsis of Bernstein’s work (via Amazon):
A hidden circulatory system flows beneath the surface of global finance, carrying trillions of dollars from drug trafficking, tax evasion, bribery, and other illegal enterprises. This network masks the identities of the individuals who benefit from these activities, aided by bankers, lawyers, and auditors who get paid to look the other way.
In Secrecy World, the Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter Jake Bernstein explores this shadow economy and how it evolved, drawing on millions of leaked documents from the files of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca—a trove now known as the Panama Papers—as well as other journalistic and government investigations. Bernstein shows how shell companies operate, how they allow the superwealthy and celebrities to escape taxes, and how they provide cover for illicit activities on a massive scale by crime bosses and corrupt politicians across the globe.
Bernstein traveled to the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, and within the United States to uncover how these strands fit together—who is involved, how they operate, and the real-world impact. He recounts how Mossack Fonseca was exposed and what lies ahead for the corporations, banks, law firms, individuals, and governments that are implicated.