While folks like Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, Sophie Muller, Chris Milk and Floria Sigismondi are among the names mentioned as top-tier music video directors, it’s often overlooked how much of an impression (mostly) hip hop director Hype Williams has made on the genre. Though some of his contemporaries may have had more innovative approaches, Williams work is often bright, expressive and immediate, finding the pulse and heart of the artists and songs he’s worked with. Kanye West is a frequent collaborator and Williams’ extensive CV also boasts names like Wu-Tang Clan, Jay-Z, Coldplay, Missy Elliot, Beyonce, No Doubt, Dr. Dre, Drake, Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga… you get the idea. And while Williams previously made an attempt to transition to feature filmmaking over a decade ago with “Belly” — the critically mauled urban crime drama starring DMX and Nas that has since risen to cult status — it didn’t quite work out, but it looks like he’s going to take a second shot.
Back in the spring it was reported that screenwriter Joe Eszterhas — who had been in self-imposed exile from Hollywood since “Showgirls” in 1995 — had returned with a new script entitled “Lust,” described as a cross between “Basic Instinct” and “Fatal Attraction.” Well, it has been making the rounds over the last week to potential directors and word comes that Williams will be taking the gig. And it’s one helluva juicy tale. The story “centers on a 30-year old beauty who is married and in love with an older Miami-based fashion magazine publisher, only to be seduced by a younger charming playboy on a business trip in Los Angeles. The playboy has a Russian assistant who is in love with him, and in this twisted jealous love triangle, secretly videotapes him and his new lover having sex to show it to her husband. The consequences of the woman’s impulsive escapade unravel into a high suspense thriller promising plenty of steamy sex scenes, set against the backdrop of the high-stakes world of real estate brokering in Miami.” So yeah, this is right in the Eszterhas wheelhouse we all know and love.
So why Williams? Apparently the film contains a “major music piece” and given that Williams is no stranger to handling sex and sensuality, he appears to be a good fit for the job. Certainly, he’ll bring a different flavor than somebody like Paul Verhoeven and it’s a smart way to take Eszterhas’ distinct storytelling style and update it for a cinematic landscape that has changed greatly in the years since the writer left town.
Jack Olson will do some rewrites on the story, and the picture is a low-budget, $28 million affair. No word yet on casting or when it will roll, but Eszterhas is back and it’s been a while since we had to some high-grade sleaze, so color us curious to see if he’s still got the edge that made his name. [Variety]