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Project Dreamlight: 10 Directors and the 10 Movie Ideas for Which They are Perfectly Suited

By Rob Payne | Lists | July 9, 2013 |

By Rob Payne | Lists | July 9, 2013 |

Here at Pajiba, we spend a lot of time dreaming about the movies that we wish the clever, beautiful and genius studio executives would make. Well, I do. Or, I’m the one who routinely subjects you all to crappy Photoshops, anyway. But rather than slotting more of our favorite actors and actresses into characters befitting their talents, I thought it was time to move onto directors and the projects I’d love to see them wrestle from the maw of non-existence.

Do you remember HBO’s “Project Greenlight?” It was a reality competition show that focused on screenwriting and film directing, particularly of an independent (re: no money) bent, rather than modeling and cooking and surviving. This is kind of like that, only instead of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck I’m your celebrity host. Now that you can’t possibly be more disappointed, here are 10 Movie Ideas I Need to Exist, and the 10 Directors Who Should Make Them.


Pushing Ice: The David Fincher Sci-Fi Movie
Now, I am of course aware that Fincher has already directed a science fiction film, but Alien 3 was his first major motion picture and by most accounts, nobody is really very happy with the outcome. Chalk that up to being a novice or studio meddling, but it’s clear that Fincher has evolved into one of the directors out there, who can build tiny detail upon tiny detail onto ever larger canvasses. He’s a stylist without being in your face, unless that’s exactly what the movie moment calls for. He also knows his way around directing female leads in action roles, which will come in handy when Alistair Reynolds’ novel’s two heroines — Captain Bella Lind and Svetlana Barseghian — square off over the fate of their ship and, eventually, the survival of humanity itself. (H/T to SLW for the book rec.)

Torso: The Christopher Nolan Period Noir
Brian Michael Bendis’ and Marc Andreyko’s graphic novel about the lesser of Eliott Ness’s most-famous cases has been on the verge of adaptation for years. The two even wrote a book about that. About a serial killer in Cleveland during the mid-1930s, who left only his victims’ torsoes for the authorities to find, it’s not surprise that David Fincher was attached at one point, and it looks like another indie darling is looking to take on the Torso Killer now, too. But, damn it, Nolan needs to do a historical crime story to really marry his two favorite genres. He’s done period pieces and he’s done detective stories, and Torso would enable him to do both and costume all his male leads in perfectly tailored, contextually approprite suits.

Good Omens: Terry Gilliam Teams Up with Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
This has been on my personal wishlist since I first read the Gaiman-Pratchett team-up over a decade ago, and it’s at the top of my list whenever somebody asks for something new to read. Following two angels (one good, one fallen [so, a demon]) as they try to upend the impending Apocalypse at the pre-pubescent hands of a little Damien, Good Omens is surprisingly too epic too really summarize. It’s about the end of the world, sure, but there are also corporate paintball matches to participate in. Of any director alive, with his precise ability to capture the whimsy and mundanity of reality, Gilliam seems the most apt person to bring this tale to the screen.

Hellboy III: At the Mountains of Madness: Guillermo Del Toro Finally Makes His Lovecraftian Epic
The first Hellboy movie, loosely based on the Mike Mignola’s first Hellboy comic books, touched upon the Elder Gods of H.P. Lovecraft, but it’s most fondly remembered for making evil Nazis cool again. The second one ditched Cthullhu and all the rest in favor of steampunk gollems, and now he’s coming out with Pacific Rim, which is the long-awaited (by some) unification of Elder Gods and Anime. None of this is bad, but after his adaptation of At the Mountains of Madness starring Tom Cruise stalled again, it’s abundantly clear the man has Shoggoth on the brain. Godtopus knows, we can’t blame him. So, I say the studios should let his dreams come true, only with Hellboy investigating the original novel’s missing investigators. Something tells me that Ron Perlman in that make-up would be both cheaper and more of a draw than Cruise, anyway.

Batwoman Begins: The Kathryn Bigelow Superhero Movie
To put it bluntly, the world needs a good female superhero movie. I’m not entirely sure we need more alpha males beating each other up, but I’m damn sure we need women besides Scarlett Johansson and Anne Hathaway getting fourth billing (if they’re lucky) in another ensemble. I’d go with Wonder Woman first, but we’ll get to here. Instead, let’s go with a cinematic universe that’s already established — Christopher Nolan’s Gotham — and a heroine that is immediately believable. I’ve been beating on the Batwoman drum for a while, and it’s not just because Kate Kane is a spitting image of my favorite FemShep in the Mass Effect trilogy. She’s just as much a badass as Bruce Wayne, and more relatable because she doesn’t do everything with all the money in the world. As for Bigelow, she more than proved she can handle taut thrillers with explosive action with a ginger lady lead. Why wouldn’t a woman direct the first big superheroine flick since Catwoman?

Kill Bill vol. 3: The Final Chapter in Quentin Tarantino’s Bride Trilogy
To be fair, Uma Thurman’s Beatrix “The Bride” Kiddo was basically a superhero in her fictional world and she was pretty awesome, too. But coming from the world of grindhouse and exploitation cinema rather comic books, Tarantino got to craft one of the bloodiest arthouse movies ever. But what great, modern epic only comes in two parts? From practically the very first scene, when the Bride takes out Vernita Greene in front of her own daughter, it’s established that Kiddo’s and the kiddo’s stories are not done. Their paths will cross again… in Kill Beatrix. With Elle Driver still on the loose, capable of training the orphaned revenge seeker, and 10 years after the release of the first volume, it’s probably just about time for this movie to happen and to remain relevant. (H/T on the accompanying art to Winston Williams.)

The Black Panther: The Spike Lee Superhero Movie
I know I said we don’t necessarily need another generic male superhero movie, but before we give up the genre completely, let’s ensure we’ve got at least one person of color who dones a cowl or a cape and fights crime. No, Blade doesn’t count — he’s super powered, but in an action horror franchise — and neither does Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, who’s one heroic moment was spent shooting and missing a pre-takeoff jet with a missile launcher. I’ve written before about how Black Panther could make the transition from page to screen, and with a guy like Lee at the helm, it’s sure to be a memorable movie. Lee might seem an unlikely choice, considering he’s mostly dramatically concerned with race and social upheaval, but if there’s one comic book character tailor-made for his skillset, it’s the King of Wakanda. Plus, Inside Man showed that he can do a studio picture with finesse, and it really should be a black filmmaker tackling this kind of project. Sorry, Tim Story, but, as much as I like Barbershop, you’ve proven you can’t be trusted with a big budget, much less a camera.

The Stars My Destination: The Nicolas Winding Refn Sci-Fi Movie
It’s been quite a few years since I read Alfred Bester’s cynical sci-fi classic, also known as Tiger, Tiger in some circles, but the main character’s visceral anger and his going-mad-with-power arc has always stuck with me. It’s a deceptively simple tale about a man being lost in space, tumbling forever in a tube that can barely maintain its own life, and much less his. Then through sheer force of will saves himself, and wreaks all manner of destruction on those he believes wronged him. To me, that sounds exactly like the basic story structure of all Refn’s films to date. Bronson, Valhalla Rising, Drive — they all deal with violent men with their own sense of nobility and righteousness, and either Tom Hardy or Mads Mikkelson would be perfect in the role of Gully Foyle, Bester’s antagonistic protagonist. I’m pretty sure there’s a role for Christina Hendricks, too.

Wonder Woman: Joss Whedon’s Homeric Epic Horror Movie
But, seriously, there needs to be a decent Wonder Woman movie. She’s the world’s most famous female superhero and the best pop culture can offer is an aborted travesty and a (admittedly, good) one-shot animated movie? If Nicolas Winding Refn doesn’t direct one starring Hendricks, somebody talented needs to get on the ball and make this happen. Of course, years ago — and before superheroes just exploded all over our collective faces — Whedon hired by Warner Bros. and DC to bring Princess Diana of Themiscyra to pulse-pounding life. That was after Serenity and before The Avengers, when “In Whedon We Trust” t-shirts were only worn by a select few Comic Con attendees. Now, though, once he’s done doing movies the Marvel way, he’ll be in demand for every major blockbuster at every major studio. I’m just saying he needs to get back to his “Buffy”-esque roots, because nobody else can do it.

Community: The Movie: Justin Lin’s Fast and Furious Escape
Six seasons a movie, right? That’s been the refrain since, I believe, the first clip show episode of NBC’s Dan Harmon’s “Community.” Astonishingly enough, the series about a random study group at an absurd community college that trades in pop culture references like most successful sitcoms trade in laugh tracks, is on its way to a fifth season. One more and all that’s left to make the dream of every Greendale human being come true is a producer to finance a movie, a studio to distribute it, and someone crazy enough to direct. My first thought was Dan Harmon’s directorial debut, but even I’m not that crazy; then I figured Joe and Anthony Russo, who directed the largest chunks of the first three seasons, would be no-brainers. But until Captain America: Winter Soldier comes out, they are mostly untested in these waters. However, Justin Lin directed some of the shows best episodes (the above “Modern Warfare” for starters) and he’s directed two of the undisputed best action movies in the last decade: Fast Five and Fast Six, or whatever their real titles are. He’s a director who knows precisely what he’s doing, and he’s been doing it since his personal genre parody, Better Luck Tomorrow. If nobody in Hollywood wants to do this, maybe we can Kickstart it? (H/T to Badass Digest for this art.)

Rob Payne also writes the comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter, tumbls on the Tumblr, and his wares can be purchased here. He doesn’t really expect any of these to be made, but he’s a dreamer and he’s not the only one.

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