Noah Baumbach and Terrence Malick have something in common this year. Both are brand-name auteurs with two features in the can each and no distribution deals in place. Or none that I’ve been told about. Baumbach’s pair are Manhattan-set — Untitled Public School Project and While We’re Young. Malick’s films are the romantic-triangle Austin movie (formerly called Lawless) that began shooting in 2012 and Knight of Cups, the Christian Bale-Natalie Portman drama which was shot before or subsequently or whatever. Who cares? I know that Malick and Bale shot footage at the Austin City Limits Festival in September 2011.
(l. to r.) Ben Stiller, Noah Baumbach and Adam Driver shooting While We’re Young last September.
Illustration from 4.13.13 New Yorker profile of Noah Baumbach, written by Ian Parker.
If you know anything about Malick it’s entirely possible that one or both of his films might not be seen until 2015 or even later. Or they could both come out this year. (But don’t hold your breath.) I’ve long been persuaded that Malick would much rather toss lettuce leaves than allow his films to be seen and kicked around. He’s into hiding.
I’m also wondering about Baumbach’s UPSP. It began shooting in late 2012, and any film that doesn’t have a title 14 or 15 months later is probably floating in some kind of post-production ether. I’ve written people in the Baumbach orbit and have heard nothing back. If (I say “if“) both Baumbachs are coming out this year a reasonable presumption would foresee Untitled Public School Project, a Manhattan-based film which Noah made with Frances Ha collaborator Greta Gerwig, screening in Cannes and While We’re Young, a kind of clash-of-generations relationship comedy with Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Amanda Seyfried and Adam Driver, would screen in six months hence in Venice/Telluride/Toronto.
Untitled Public School Project, which presumably has something to do with a public school, is about a relationship between Gerwig’s “dauntless New York striver” and a Barnard undergrad played by Lola Kirke (sister of Girls star Jemima Kirke). Baumbach has compared UPSP to F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s “The Great Gatsby” and Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild. So Kirke is Melanie Griffith and Gerwig is Jeff Daniels?
While We’re Young, also set in Manhattan, is about a 40ish couple (Stiller, Watts) becoming friendly with a 20something pair (Driver, Seyfried).