Brazilian filmmaker Walter Salles is finally returning after a lost in the wilderness period.
His 1998 film "Central Station" was so fantastic it earned not only an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Film, but also a Best Actress nod for its female protagonist Fernanda Montenegro (run don't walk if you've never seen this film). Then in 2004, he delivered what we humbly submit as one our favorite films of the decade in "The Motorcycle Diaries," with Gael García Bernal portraying a young Che Guevara far before his time as a Cuban revolutionary — the picture is a luminous portrait of a thoughtful soul waking up to the consciousness of the planet and the suffering of humanity.
The Hollywood offers poured in after that (he's been attached to finally bring Jack Kerouac's "On The Road" to the screen for several years, but the project has languished) and the susceptible Salles was somehow roped into remaking a Japanese horror film, "Dark Water," with Jennifer Connelly as the lead. Not a terrible film per se, but seemingly not a project attuned to his sensibilities.
Following that dubious move, Salles returned to his Brazilian roots to shoot, "Linha de Passe," a picture he wrote and co-directed with Daniela Thomas. The picture which centered on three siblings all from different fathers living with their mother in a favela slum screened at Cannes and the Toronto International Film Festival last year (read our review), but it didn't seem to particularly impress and it still doesn't have any U.S. distribution (and it possibly never will? It's not perfect, but it deserves much better).
Now, Salles is returning to familiar territory and his good luck charm in José Rivera, the screenwriter behind, "The Motorcycle Diaries." Variety reports that producer Scott Stuber has acquired screen rights and that he's pegged Salles and Rivera to write and direct the project, once again about best friends. Random House's synopsis:
Set in a beautiful but economically devastated Pennsylvania steel town, American Rust is a novel of the lost American dream and the desperation—as well as the acts of friendship, loyalty, and love—that arise from its loss. From local bars to trainyards to prison, it is the story of two young men, bound to the town by family, responsibility, inertia, and the beauty around them, who dream of a future beyond the factories and abandoned homes.Not all that thematically different from 'Diaries' really which is probably why they were hired. According to the article the duo have been also working on a film adaptation of the Junot Diaz novel "The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," which is an epic story of a overweight Dominican boy growing up in Paterson, New Jersey but also the curse of the "fukú" that has plagued his family for generations.
There's no date on when either project will arrive to the screen, but it's certainly early days for "American Rust." 2011 if we're lucky? There's no mention of "On The Road," either, but regardless, the return of Walter Salles, hopefully in top form, is something we wait with eager anticipation for.
Here's the trailer for "Linha De Passe" if you're curious