Martin Scorsese’s Impossible Goal

This article first appeared as a daily newsletter. To receive these direct to your inbox every morning sign up to The Industry Newsletter!

Good morning: In today’s edition of The Industry, we look at:

Martin Scorsese’s Jesus, Jacob Elordi’s Frankenstein, Olivia Colman curses and a soccer ball.

Let’s go!


MARTIN SCORSESE’S IMPOSSIBLE GOAL

When Martin Scorsese was a teenager, he studied to be a priest.

Now, at 81, Scorsese has just completed the screenplay for his newest film project, inspired by his visit with the Pope last summer.

The script is based on the book A Life of Jesus by Shūsaku Endō, who also wrote the novel on which Silence (2016) is based.

Even when religion is not the subject matter for his films, as in The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), Kundun (1997), and Silence, his characters still grapple with faith.

In Mean Streets, Harvey Keitel struggled to reckon his violence with his Catholicism. In Raging Bull, the need for self-redemption clings to Robert De Niro. In Bringing Out the Dead (1999), Nicolas Cage struggles as a literal redeemer of the dead as an NYC EMT.

Scorsese reflected:

“I tried finding with Kundun and The Last Temptation of Christ, even Gangs of New York, to a certain extent, ways into redemption and the human condition and how we deal with the negative things inside us… Are we decent and then learn to become indecent? Can we change?”

He explored those ideas through Leonardo DiCaprio’s damnation in Killers of the Flower Moon.

And Lily Gladstone’s forgiveness:

“It’s almost an impossible goal for human beings, that kind of forgiveness, but I really believe in it. If we nurture forgiveness, maybe the world could change, ultimately. I’m not saying next year. It could be a thousand years from now, if we’re still around.”

In the waning years of his life, Scorsese reflecting on a lifetime of intertwining cinema and faith, is looking to more directly interrogate the ultimate story of redemption.

For More:

Willem Dafoe is tempted by Satan in this wild scene from The Last Temptation of Christ.

The high dangers of one’s beliefs are writ large in the trailer for Silence.

“You don’t make up for your sins in church, you do it in the streets.” The opening scene of Mean Streets, the film that put Scorsese on the map.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

The final chapter of Stranger Things is kicking off. Now in production after a long hiatus during the strike, the Duffer brothers are ready to bring the ’80s-influenced horror saga to its final conclusion. In a cast photo shared by Netflix, we see the much older ensemble, including Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, and David Harbour. The fifth season promises to be its darkest yet, with rumors of multiple main characters expiring before the season ends.

While the show may be wrapping up, there have already been promises of several spin-offs, including a play and a new animated show.

Monsters in Hollywood. The cinema reboots that have dominated the release calendar over the past few years are now stretching back to the silent film era. Three new films are currently in progress:

  • Frankenstein (dir: Guillermo del Toro)
  • The Wolfman (dir: Leigh Whannell, The Invisible Man)
  • Nosferatu (dir: Robert Eggers)

Jacob Elordi (Saltburn, bath candle) has just been cast as Frankenstein’s monster. Del Toro’s Frankenstein is based on the original novel by Mary Shelley. The most iconic performance of the monster was Boris Karloff in Frankenstein (1931). Watch the classic over-the-top It’s Alive! clip.

Netflix is releasing.

Julia Garner (Ozark) has just been cast in The Wolfman. Even though she was a beast as the vicious Ruth Langmore in Ozark, Christopher Abbott (Sanctuary) will play the Wolfman. The film is inspired by the 1941 Hollywood classic (trailer). Blumhouse is producing.

Universal is releasing on October 25.

We can also look out for Robert Eggers’ Nosferatu at the end of this year. Releasing on Christmas day.

Paul Verhoeven’s cinema of the ‘80s and ’90s became increasingly erotic:

His latest, Benedetta (2021, trailer), centered on a nun whose religious visions spur lustful cravings for the nun next door. It’s delightfully blasphemous.

He recently spoke about his upcoming erotic thriller, Young Sinner.

“This will be a brutal film. The main character is an Evangelical woman. There are so many wonderful scenes in it…You could say it’s a political thriller, if you want, situated in Washington.”

Provocative as ever, Verhoeven believes the film will be much too controversial to be up for an Oscar.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

There’s nothing better than watching Olivia Colman curse someone out. Wicked Little Letters, a British satire about people writing nasty letters to one another, seems to be an analog for online hate speech. Check out this delightful Red Band trailer.

Colman has a long list of spectacular roles, but a recent standout featured her as the head chef of a fine dining restaurant. As she peels a mushroom, we learn about life (clip).

Another was her astonishing performance in The Father, crippling under the weight of Anthony Hopkins’ dementia (clip).

Wicked Little Letters seems like the perfect next project where she can trade the gravitas for debauchery.

The film will be released on February 23.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is now Lois Lane. Rachel Brosnahan, who won two Golden Globes for her portrayal of the wildly witty, vivacious Mrs. Maisel on the Amazon Studios series, which ran five seasons, is now launching into the world of superhero heroines with her upcoming role in James Gunn’s Superman.

Brosnahan explained:

“We’ve been talking a lot about where this project fits into the canon of the Supermans that we know. So hopefully, this’ll be… we’ll be putting our own stamp on things.”

Brosnahan has been putting her own stamp on things ever since her wildly vulnerable portrayal of a call girl who gets torn apart by DC corruption while on the path to righteousness in House of Cards. The subplot was so compelling that it consumed the story with its own narrative gravity (clip).

James Gunn’s new DC Universe relies heavily on Superman (David Corenswet), and Brosnahan’s casting inspires some confidence that the new films might be steering away from the grays and darker tones of their predecessors. Superman: Legacy will be released on July 11, 2025.

For all the acting accolades awarded to Oppenheimer it’s easy to forget the film is made up of some incredible smaller roles. James Remar, playing the Secretary of War, Henry Stimson (photo) and improvised one of the most chilling lines in the film. He tells his team not to bomb Kyoto, Japan, because he honeymooned there with his wife.

Nolan explained:

“[Remar] kept talking to me about how he learned that Stimson and his wife had honeymooned in Kyoto… That was one of the reasons that Stimson took Kyoto off the list to be bombed. I had him crossing the city off the list because of its cultural significance, but I’m like, ‘Just add that.’ It’s a fantastically exciting moment where no one in the room knows how to react.”

Remar famously played the cop-killing escaped convict Ganz (photo) in 48 Hrs. He will be seen in Francis Ford Coppola’s upcoming Megalopolis.


FESTIVALS AND RESOURCES

Christopher Nolan breaks down the first two and a half minutes of Oppenheimer in this Anatomy of a Scene. Nolan is measured and precise – it’s well worth a watch.

Sean Durkin’s screenplay for A24’s The Iron Claw. There’s a utility in Durkin’s language that propels us to keep reading. Read it here.


TECH SECTION

In the world of VFX, MPC reigns supreme. They’ve had a prolific run:

Here’s a breakdown video of how they transformed Napoleon’s famous Battle of Waterloo from 500 extras to 5000.

It was a problem Kubrick encountered when he was attempting to adapt Napoleon in the late 60s/early 70s. He even investigated paper costumes for those thousands of extras in the background to cut down on costs.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

Jake Johnson has written and directed his first feature, Self Reliance. The actor, who graduated from Joe Swanberg’s mumblecore with films like Drinking Buddies (2013) and Digging for Fire (2015), moved onto bit roles in blockbusters:

He also plays Peter B. Parker in the Spider-Verse animated films.

Although this marks his first feature as director, he has written three features in the past.

Here’s the official synopsis for his debut:

When a man is offered a million dollars to play a game in which hunters try to kill him, he thinks he has found the perfect loophole: they can only attack when he’s alone. His only problem is that none of his friends or family believe the game is real.

The trailer is zany and a wonderful meditation on the limits of loneliness. Andy Samberg co-stars, and his production company, Lonely Island, is a producer.

Self Reliance releases on January 12th on Hulu.

Christine Vachon is the mother of indie cinema. A “short” list of her producing credits over the past two decades is intimidating:

She recently offered some wise advice at a Hollywood roundtable:

“The reason why Killer [Films] keeps doing it, first of all, it’s the anti-cynicism. I feel like cynicism is the creativity killer. It’s the thing that destroys everything. And when you work with a first-time director, you can’t be cynical because they’re usually telling the story that they’ve waited their whole lives to tell.”

She currently producing the upcoming A24 film A Different Man, which will premiere at Sundance.

Read all of Vachon’s roundtable wisdom here.

Boots Riley is directing a new project. His 2018 Sundance directorial debut Sorry to Bother You is an insanely piercing magical realism satire on capitalism. His follow-up was the Amazon series I’m a Virgo, about a 13-foot-tall Black man coming of age in a society that sees him as an outsider. It also captures Riley’s zaniness.

While details are slim, here’s the info on his new project:

It follows a ring of female shoplifters.

It will be shot in the spring. As a filmmaker, he is one of the strongest satirists of American power structures. However, despite both Sorry to Bother You and I’m a Virgo having incredible starts, their third acts were less than satisfying.

If his latest project is wholly cohesive, it could be headed for an Oscar.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Channel 4 will cut 200 staff (17% of its workforce). The British broadcasting channel has been crippled by the declining ad market as media dollars pivot away from traditional linear TV and towards digital.

A spokeswoman discussed the layoffs:

“Like every organization, we are having to deal with an extremely uncertain economy in the short term and the need to accelerate our transformation to become a wholly digital public service broadcaster in the long term… As a result, we need to continue to divest from our linear channels business and simplify our operations to become a leaner organization.”

It would be a shame to see the company that created such prolific shows as The Great British Baking Show (2010-) , The Inbetweeners (2008-2010) and Taskmaster (2015-) dissolve.

Maybe they’ll be able to bring on some more savvy personnel from their subsidiary, Film4, which produced Under the Skin and Poor Things, to save the channel.

A dark soccer story from Memento Films International. The powerhouse international sales agent behind:

Les Arenas is a soccer thriller directed by Camille Perton and starring Édgar Ramírez (Gold).

Here’s Perton’s synopsis:

At just 18 years old, Brahim, a promising young footballer, is preparing to realize his dream: signing his first professional contract in Lyon, his club, his city. But the emergence within the club of a powerful foreign agent reshuffles the cards. With Mehdi, his cousin and agent, Brahim embarks on a race against time on the transfer market, “the transfer window”, where anything goes.

The film was shot in Lyon, Monaco, Nice, and Baku, Azerbaijan. Perton, inspired by her lifelong passion for soccer, aims to showcase a dark, politically charged side of the sport.

The film is currently in post-production.

Intense first look image here.


ON THIS DAY

1894. William K.L. Dickson’s motion picture Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze, also known as Fred Ott’s Sneeze, received the first US copyright for the format. It was filmed a few days earlier at Edison Studio, West Orange, New Jersey.


See you Wednesday!


Written by Gabriel Miller and Spencer Carter.

Editor: Gabriel Miller

Share the Post:

Other Editions

Become a Film Industry Insider!

Sign up for The Industry!

It’s a curated newsletter read by almost 100,000 film professionals.

We synthesize the latest film & TV news and send it to your inbox every morning. 

It takes less than 5 minutes to read.

Plus it’s FREE forever.