One of the pleasant surprises with this year's Oscar nominations is recognition of the original screenplay for "The Messenger." What's not surprising is that now the film's co-writer and director, Oren Moverman, is being wooed for big projects, such as Universal's Kurt Cobain biopic. According to Risky Biz Blog Moverman has been hired to pen a new draft of the adaptation, partially based on the 2001 book "Heavier Than Heaven," and also to direct the film, too.
This will be Moverman's second film as a director. He has some experience with scripting biopics, however, having been Todd Haynes' co-writer on the Bob Dylan film "I'm Not There." And if the film was to deal with any of the conspiracy theories, or at least to speculate on the mystery of Cobain's 1994 death, perhaps Moverman's work on Ira Sachs' Hitchcockian crime drama "Married Life" would also seem like groundwork. But given that Courtney Love and her lawyer are executive producers on this, any ambiguity about her late husband's suicide is unlikely.
The untitled biopic's first draft was written by David Benioff, who most recently worked on the very different 2009 releases "Brothers" and "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," and who is said to have been done a lot of first-hand research for the project. Casting and directorial rumors had come about back when that script was in development, with James McAvoy (who is older than Cobain was when he died) linked to the lead and "Quantum of Solace" director Marc Forster said to be at the helm. Both directly denied these rumors to MTV.
So who could or should play the Nirvana frontman? And what about Love?
There have been a few films made explicitly and implicitly about Cobain's life in the 16 years since he physically (though not spiritually) left this world, but nothing on the level of this project. A very loose and unofficial portrayal was done well by Michael Pitt, in Gus Van Sant's "Last Days," while Ewan McGregor's character in Haynes' "Velvet Goldmine" was primarily based on Iggy Pop and Lou Reed, yet also had minimal ties to Cobain.
Then there are two very differently brilliant documentaries: Nick Broomfield's investigative, conspiracy-inferring "Kurt & Courtney" and AJ Schnack's beautiful experimental interview film, "Kurt Cobain: About a Son."
Universal's film will probably be a more conventional and broad biopic than these films or Moverman's "I'm Not There," which featured six different actors playing Dylan. But I hope there is at least some poetic angle fitting for the music icon. I imagine "The Doors" is the best film of reference for this, though without Oliver Stone's brand of suspect and uncertain conclusion.
What would you like to see in a Kurt Cobain biopic? Who would you cast as the grunge legend?