Documentarians-turned-feature-length-narrative filmmakers is a long and storied tradition and almost a rite of passage. Some of the greats—Krzysztof Kieslowski, Louis Malle, Luis Buñuel, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne—got their start working in the medium. And more recently, documentary names like Paul Greengrass, Todd Phillips, Bennett Miller, Kevin Macdonald and Derek Cianfrance (who started out in narrative, but then carved out a decade long documentary career), have been making strong waves in the dramatic and comedy fields. Others like Werner Herzog or Steven Soderbergh vacillate between the two mediums effortlessly.
Another old documentary veteran trying his hand at narrative-length features again is Errol Morris, the documentarian behind “The Thin Blue Line,” “The Fog Of War,” and more recently, his upcoming Donald Rumsfeld doc, “The Unknown Known” (watch a clip of it here, read our review from the Venice Film Festival here). Naomi Watts is boarding “Holland, Michigan,” a Morris project announced earlier this year. A suburban thriller laced with black humor according to The Hollywood Reporter—who incorrectly says its Morris’ narrative directorial debut, nope that would be 1991’s forgotten “The Dark Wind“—the film is “Fargo“-esque (the universal shorthand for any black comedy set in the sticks). The thriller centers on a woman who suspects her husband is cheating, starts her own affair and then discovers her husband is a serial killer.
Production is scheduled to begin next April. What does that mean for Morris’ long-gestating cryogenic comedy “Freezing People is Easy” starring Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, Kristen Wiig and Christopher Walken (or some of his other narrative projects for that matter)? It’s unclear if any of those actors are still attached, but we’ll assume it’s still chilling in the development cooler somewhere. Meanwhile, the first review of Watts’ “Diana” has arrived via Variety and it feels like somewhere between a warm and medium-cool take.