Ah, Julian Assange. Aside from the interminable line-up of Snow White projects threatening to engulf the entire Western seaboard, he’s become the most in-demand bleached blond belle of the ball. With so many competing film projects about the prurient leaker of state secrets clamoring for our attention, it’s hard to keep track of them all. One project in particular, though, just got a healthy kick up the posterior. Deadline reports that the HBO–BBC co-production adaptation of last year’s New Yorker article, ‘No Secrets: Julian Assange’s Mission for Total Transparency’, has recruited producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall to its cause and bagged a screenwriter, Rowan Joffe.
These three join Oscar-winner Charles Ferguson, who has been on-board since late April. Ferguson’s well-suited to the material as no-one does righteous indignation as sublimely as he does (“Inside Job”, “No End in Sight”) and the sideways move into fiction filmmaking shouldn’t exactly discombobulate him, given he shares Assange’s government-goading ways.
That writer-director Joffe has been hired doesn’t exactly scream dynamism, though. Aside from being the son of director Roland, he’s best-known at this point for massacring “Brighton Rock” in a bodged remake and his sparse screenplay for “The American,” although he did also work on the screenplay for inferior zombie sequel “28 Weeks Later.” What he can do to mark out Assange as the bête noire of the American government any more than the other competing projects can is up for speculation. It’s a crowded house that already includes documentarian Alex Gibney ‘s project based on Andrew Fowler‘s biography, Mark Boal having a stab at the material, and Dreamworks scarfing up the rights to two books based on Wikileaks’ exploits some time ago.
Seems like it’s a good time to be riding the crest of historical relevancy, if the cinematic treatment of the recent financial crisis is anything to go by. Banging out “timely” projects is something both the BBC and HBO are familiar with — the former trotted out both “Freefall” and “The Last Days of Lehman Brothers”, whilst the latter plopped out “Too Big to Fail” a few weeks ago. With the manifest contradictions of Assange’s character — it’s got a convenient character paradox at the heart of it beyond “The Social Network” scribe Aaron Sorkin’s wettest dreams — it’d probably be more fun if someone like John Waters had a crack at the material (it takes place in the underground world of Swedish hacking circles in the late 1990s, for heaven’s sake). As it is, we’re apparently stuck with drippy TV-movie worthiness all the way.
Assange himself, of course, remains holed up in a swanky Norfolk country house whilst he appeals extradition to Sweden, presumably still hard at work on an even more horrifying assignment: penning his own memoirs. So get thee to a hair salon, Neil Patrick Harris! Several people want to bleach your hair.