Warner Bros. Will Take On Ryan Gosling’s ‘How to Catch a Monster’ + More From ‘Only God Forgives’

Between the production announcements for Wim Wender’s Every Thing Will Be Fine and Joachim Trier’s Louder Than Bombs, this has been a great week for anticipating 2014’s most coveted releases. But just in time for Ryan Gosling to head to Cannes for the premiere of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives, it’s been announced that his directorial debut How to Catch a Monster, has been picked up by Warner Bros. Back in January, we reported that English actor Matt Smith, best known for Dr. Who would be leading the picture opposite Christina Hendricks and alongside Eva Mendes and Ben Mendelsohn. 

Penned by Gosling, How to Catch a Monster is a surrealist dreamscape of a film that takes place in a vanishing city, centering on a single mother being swept into a macabre and dark fantasy underworld when her teenage son discovers a secret road leading to an under watch town. It was alluded to a few months ago that the film had some "Lynchian" elements about it—but nowadays that just means it’s probably psychologically stirring with haunting surrealist undertones. However, if it is indeed "Lynchian" in the term’s most academic definition, that would a delight. And for an actor that has been working for over a decade now alongside some of film’s most acclaimed and beloved directors—from Refn to Terrence Malick and Derek Cianfrance—one can only hope that he’s absorbed a bit of their craft, technical skill, and eye for telling authentic and emotional stories in a wonderfully cinematic way. 
 
But before we can even get our selves excited for How to Catch a Monster, we’re still counting down the days until Only God Forgives rolls into US theaters this July to punch is right in the gut and pack that Refn sense of style and kinetic energy we’ve been missing. So although we’ve seen about a million photos, trailers, clips, etc. for the Thai boxing thriller, there are still more rolling out. Today we’re graced with another poster for the film—a tinted blue design that’s not quite as enticing as the last, but it’s Ryan Gosling, so who’s complaining? The type harkens back to Drive‘s incredible hot pink credits but we’ve been assured by Gosling that this film is much, much different.
 
So check out the new look at the film, along with a few more photos and read Refn’s full director’s statement below.
The original concept for the film was to make a movie about a man who wants to fight God. That is, of course, a very vast obstacle but when I was writing the film, I was going through some very existential times in my life – we were expecting our second child and it was a difficult pregnancy – and the idea of having a character who wants to fight God without knowing why very much appealed to me.
 
With that as the concept, I elaborated by adding a character who believes he is God (Chang), obviously the antagonist, with the protagonist being a gangster who is looking for religion to believe in (Julian). This itself is, of course, very existential because faith is based on the need for a higher answer but most of the time, we don’t know what the question is. When the answer comes, then, we must backtrack our lives in order to find the question. In this way, the film is conceived as an answer, with the question revealed at the end.
 
With hindsight, I am able to see the similarities between Chang and One Eye in Valhalla Rising, and Driver in Drive – all are rooted in fairytale mythology and have difficulties living in the everyday world. I can see that technically, there is a resemblance in their stoic behavior, silence, and fetishistic portraits even though they live in different times and are portrayed by different actors. In Valhalla Rising, One Eye is enigmatic – we don’t know his past but he is defined by his name. In Drive, Driver is defined by his function. And in Only God Forgives, Chang is first of all defined by his enigmatic behaviour, to such an extent that he becomes a disembodied character, an ‘it’, defined not by his name but solely by his image.
 
In a way, Only God Forgives is like an accumulation of all the films I’ve made so far. I think I was heading toward a creative collision, full speed ahead, in order to change everything around me and to see what would come after. I have always said that I set out to make films about women but I end up making films about violent men. Now that everything is colliding, it may end up turning things upside-down for me. This collision is exciting because everything around me becomes so uncertain and we must not forget that the second enemy of creativity, after having ‘good taste’, is being safe.
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Matt Smith of ‘Dr. Who’ Takes the Lead in Ryan Gosling’s ‘How to Catch a Monster’

About a month ago, I spoke with Matt Smith, who was in town the Dr. Who Christmas Special. We talked about Scarlett Johansson, David Lynch, Raymond Carver, etc. but oddly, we never spoke about Ryan Gosling. And well, too bad,  because it looks like the current incarnation of Dr. Who, the man of time and space travel himself, has joined on for the lead in Ryan Gosling’s How to Catch a Monster—fresh off the announcement that Eva Mendes would be joining the cast as well.

Variety reports that the 30-year-old English actor has signed on for the directorial debut of Gosling opposite Christina Hendricks and alongside Ben Mendelsonhn in his first U.S. role. Described as the "male lead," he joins How to Catch a Monster, the story that is set against a surrealist dreamscape of a vanishing city and centered on a single mother being swept into a macabre and dark fantasy underworld when her teenage son discovers a secret road leading to an under watch town. Now, presumably Smith will not be playing Christina Hendricks’ teenage son. The two are but seven years apart in age and he may have boyish good looks but he is no boy. So where does his role come into play?

Who really can say now. But what is known is that Gosling is making some interesting and great choices his role time out the gate. Henricks—whom he worked with on Drive—as the anchor of this film, will finally get to show that strength and power she possess on Mad Men but hasn’t gotten to fully explore on film, Ben Mendelsohn—whom Gosling worked on in Pines—is a fantastic Australian talent that America seriously needs to fall in love with, and now with the addition of Smith, it’s a bold and ambitious choice from Gosling who is probably a massive Dr. Who fan. I’m excited to see how this one plays out.

Eva Mendes Joins Ryan Gosling’s Directorial Debut ‘How to Catch a Monster,’ Obviously

Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes pretty much have it made. They’re both disgustingly beautiful and extremely talented—yes they deserve each other, who else could even compare, right? And after starring together in Derek Cianfrance’s upcoming epic drama, The Place Beyond the Pines—where they got to quality practice in tortured love—the two are now not only making us exceedingly jealous of their love life, but it’s been announced that Mendes will join the cast of Gosling’s directorial debut, How to Catch a Monster.

Now, it’s one thing to fall in love with your co-star, it’s another to star in a film written and directed by your boyfriend. Look what happened to Diane Keaton and Warren Beatty on Reds. "It is always a dicey proposition when an actress works with a star or director—both, in this case—with whom she has an offscreen relationship. ‘It’s like running down a street with a plate of consommé and trying not to spill any,’ Beatty says," as Peter Bart recalled in his Vanity Fair piece "Thunder to the Left."

But anyhow, hoping for the best! And as someone who has had the chance to closely observe the incredible work of everyone from Terrence Malick to Nicolas Winding Ref, let’s assume some of that magic has rubbed off on ol’ Gos and this long-awaited debut will be the energetic kick we’d expect from the talented actor who has constantly morphed himself throughout his career. 

How to Catch a Monster, penned by Gosling, tells the story of Billy, a single mother of two who is swept into a macabre and dark fantasy underworld while her teenage son discovers a secret road leading to an underwater town. Christina Hendricks is set to play the leading role with fellow Pines actor Ben Mendelhson also starring. Mendes looks to be playing "Cat" a prominent figure of the Big Bad Wolf Club. Shooting is scheduled for May with hopefully a festival release the following year.

Last question: Does this mean Dead Man’s Bones will be scoring the film?! I certainly hope so.

2013 Looks to be the Year of Ben Mendelsohn

Yes, I can feel it—2013 will finally be the year America falls in love with Ben Mendelsohn. Although having worked in the industry for decades now, it was only until 2010’s Animal Kingdom that the Australian actor started garnering attention stateside—and rightfully so. You may have caught a glimpse of him in Terrence Malick’s The New World or Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, but it was his performance in this fall’s Killing Them Softly that got my full attention and made me want to see more of the man who seems to have an affinity for intense characters on the fringe.

In Andrew Dominik’s politically charged crime drama, he played opposite Scoot McNairy—to which Dominik said, "[he’s] someone I’ve known since we were teenagers…I knew that that character was something he could do with his one arm tied behind his back." To my dismay, Killing Them Softly seemed to be either panned or overlooked by critics, which is a shame not only for Dominik and his fantastic directorial ability, for the actors involved. Ben gave a memorable performance in his supporting role, but what stood out the most was the fact that amongst the likes of Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini, McNairy not only held his own but outshined everyone. Anyhow, Mendelsohn can next be found alongside Ryan Gosling in Derek Cianfrance’s incredible sprawling triptych drama, The Place Beyond the Pines. It also appears Gosling has cast him to star in his upcoming directorial debut How to Catch a Monster with Christina Hendricks

But as of late, it’s been reported that Mendelsohn will star in Mississippi Grind with Jake Gyllenhaal, a new independent drama from the people who brought you 2006’s Gosling-helmed feature, Half Nelson. Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden’s film will follow “a down-on-his-luck gambler (Mendelsohn) facing crushing debt who teams up with a younger gambling addict (Gyllenhaal) in an attempt to change his luck. The two set off on a road trip through the South with visions of winning back what has been lost.” 

Well, this is exactly what I like to hear. The more Mendelsohn, the better. Enjoy this brief clip from Pines.