When news broke last year of John Hillcoat adapting Blood Meridian, I had expressed some hope for similar treatment bestowed upon Cormac McCarthy’s final novels The Passenger and Stella Maris. This desire was almost entirely quixotic; his swan song is an über-nihilistic encyclopedic thriller, at least one-third of which is a two-person dialogue on the history of math, physics, the Manhattan Project (far more compellingly than Oppenheimer), God’s existence, and wanting to fuck your own brother, with a protagonist rather convincingly written as the smartest person alive. It is really not suggestive of a financeable movie.

No doubt emboldened The Bikeriders, however, Jeff Nichols will give it a shot. Speaking to Awards Watch, the writer-director revealed New Regency will back the effort, whether it’s one film or two (I can take a guess) or even arrives anytime soon; Nichols is also planning to adapt David Grann’s “The Yankee Commandante” and plans a “giant” sci-fi film “about the nature of home.” The project nevertheless sounds rather present-tense, and if Bikeriders does business it won’t hurt such ambitions. As for whether or not Nichols is suited: there is a ground-level tension throughout The Passenger which I think a filmmaker of his ilk can approach, but proper treatment of Stella Maris is quite another matter. Needless to say I’d love being proven wrong.

Our own Caleb Hammond might have something to say about it, having panned Nichols’ latest out of Telluride: “The Bikeriders is at its best when it’s a loose look at an inconsequential motorcycle club in ’60s Chicago. In our current era, where real subcultures are generally extinct from the Internet’s monopoly on shaping culture, a straightforward, fun, albeit idealistic look at what public community can offer men would’ve been enough of a statement for audiences to consider. But in its second half, after a time jump, The Bikeriders attempts to tackle the transition from the idealism of the ’60s to the darker realities of the ’70s. This theme has been covered ad nauseam across countless mediums, recently in Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, and even in two films that directly feature motorcycles or motorcycle gangs: the aforementioned Easy Rider and 1970’s Gimme Shelter.”

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