Nicole Holofcener to direct a cancer comedy


Nicole Holofcener, the writer and director of smart, female-fronted films like Lovely & Amazing and Friends With Money, and, one of my favorites movies about women’s friendships, Walking and Talking, has a new project in the works. Holofcener will direct an untitled cancer-themed comedy (formerly titled I’m With Cancer) starring James McAvoy (Wanted) and Judd Apatow‘s go-to guy Seth Rogen (who’s also producing).

Nicole Holofcener (left) with frequent leading lady Catherine Keener

McAvoy’s character is based on screenwriter Will Reiser, who was diagnosed with the disease in his 20s and successfully battled the disease over the course of several years. Reiser is writing the film, which is scheduled to begin shooting in January 2010.

In the meantime, Holofcener fans can look forward to Please Give, a comedy starring Catherine Keener (Capote), Amanda Peet, and Rebecca Hall (Vicky Christina Barcelona), written and directed by Holofcener and set for a Spring 2010 release.

Holofcener has also directed one episode of the new HBO comedy series Bored to Death, starring Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore) and with appearances by Parker Posey and Kristen Wiig.

I’ve always found Holofcener’s films compelling because they are difficult to categorize and usually star great female actors playing complex (and not always sympathetic) characters. In fact, her thoughtful interview with the LA Times in 2006 has stuck with me years after reading it. In it, she talks about depicting the privileged class in Los Angeles (in Friends With Money), and also about what drives her writing.

I’m not afraid to say that my work is autobiographical, really realistic. I guess I like to dispel myths about people, but especially about women, what we’re really like. But it’s not like I’m thinking, "Well, I’m going to show people what women are really like." I’m just writing what I know. I don’t have an agenda aside from expressing myself. And telling a story that I find interesting. If that happens, great, if someone comes up to me and says, "Oh, that character is so much like me."

And on a much simpler note, I like Holofcener because she gave eternal Friend Jennifer Aniston a meaty role as a woman who was kind of a jerk. (I particularly enjoyed watching her steal from employers and rudely drunk-dial an old boyfriend.)

Jennifer Aniston in Friends with Money

It will be interesting to see how she fares with a cast full of men in the untitled cancer film. It will take a director of Holofcener’s caliber to make Seth Rogen relatable for me.

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