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SXSW: 'Wild Canaries' motion posters for the screwball comedy starring Sophia Takal, Alia Shawkat, Jason Ritter -- EXCLUSIVE

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There are two types of people in the world: chaos muppets and order muppets.

For Wild Canaries writer/director Lawrence Michael Levine, an order devotee, his wife, actress and director Sophia Takal is the chaos variety. “It can be very, very funny sometimes for the two of us to be in a living situation together. I think that was something he wanted to explore in a comedy,” Takal told EW. Levine agrees: “Sophia is just so funny and wacky in our everyday life and I really wanted to do a movie that would show that off.”

The result? Wild Canaries — a screwball murder mystery in the vein of The Thin Man series, about a newly engaged couple Barri and Noah (played by Takal and Levine) who both react to the death of their elderly downstairs neighbor in different ways. Barri suspects murder. Noah thinks that’s insane.

“It’s really based on our dynamic. Our real dynamic,” she said. Barri enlists her roommate Jean (Arrested Development’s Alia Shawkat) to aid in the amateur investigation. Everyone is suddenly a suspect — from their deceased neighbor’s son (Kevin Corrigan) to the suave, hipster building owner (Jason Ritter) — and relationships become more fraught than ever as the riotous, high-stakes caper evolves.

“[Levine] wrote it right before we got married, so I think a lot of commitment phobia is in there, too,” Takal says about the film, which is premiering at SXSW. Levine says, “I think a lot of those anxieties that exist as you approach marriage — fear of being betrayed, fear of making a mistake, thinking long and hard about if you really trust somebody — these were things that were on my mind. So when I started to write a murder mystery, the one I came up with reflected those fears.

Adds Takal: “We’re exploring things that are relatable but also couching it in a fun mystery.” READ FULL STORY

'About Alex': First look at Aubrey Plaza and Max Greenfield's 'complicated' onscreen relationship -- EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS

Director Jesse Zwick’s new drama About Alex tells the story of seven college friends who reunite for a weekend after one of them suffers an emotional breakdown.

Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation), Max Greenfield (New Girl), Jason Ritter (Parenthood), and more star in the upcoming film that finds the seven friends realizing that despite keeping up through technology since graduating from college, they really don’t know each other as well as they used to.

EW caught up with Jesse Zwick over the phone to talk about his upcoming independently produced film. Read on to find out what he had to say about the film and to see an exclusive photo from About Alex featuring Aubrey Plaza and Jason Ritter below: READ FULL STORY

Casting Net: Sean Penn eyeing thriller 'Prone Gunman.' Plus: John Hawkes, George Clooney, Ty Burrell

• Sean Penn is in talks to star in the action thriller Prone Gunman, based on the novel by the late French author Jean-Patrick Manchette about an international assassin who runs afoul of the organization that hires him after he says he wants out of the business. (Silly assassin; shadowy global organizations are never keen on quiet retirement.) Peter Travis adapted the screenplay; there is no director yet attached. [THR]

• John Hawkes, lately winning Oscar buzz for The Sessions, has signed on for Low Down, a biopic of jazz pianist Joe Albany. He replaces Mark Ruffalo, who had originally been attached to tell the story of Albany’s relationship with his young daughter Amy through the 1960s and 70s. That same daughter co-wrote the screenplay as an adult, with Topper Lilien (Where the Money IsDungeons & Dragons). Commercial director Jeff Preiss will make his directorial debut with the project. [Variety]

• George Clooney is in talks to star in Disney’s tightly guarded sci-fi project 1952, which Brad Bird is attached to direct. Damon Lindelof co-wrote the film with EW senior writer Jeff Jensen. [Variety]

• Modern Family‘s Ty Burrell will play a love interest for Bill Hader in the indie dramedy The Skeleton Twins, about grown siblings (Hader and Kristen Wiig) who reevaluate their lives after they both have a near-death experience on the same day. Luke Wilson plays Wiig’s husband. Director Craig Johnson (True Adolescents) cowrote the film with Mark Heyman (Black Swan). [Variety]

• Eric Bana is negotiating to star in the paranormal thriller Beware the Night, about a cop who investigates possessions — and not the drug kind. (Cue scary organ music.) Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) will direct from the script he penned with Paul Harris Boardman (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Urban Legends: Final Cut). Jerry Bruckheimer is producing. [TheWrapVariety]

• The cast for the drama You’re Not You — starring Hilary Swank as a woman living with ALS (i.e. Lou Gehrig’s disease) and Emmy Rossum as the self-involved co-ed who is hired to care for her — has filled out its cast. Marcia Gay Harden, Loretta DevineJason Ritter, Ernie Hudson, Frances Fisher, Ali Larter, and Julian McMahon have all joined the cast, which also includes Josh DuhamelGeorge C. Wolfe (Nights in Rodanthe) is directing the script from Shana Feste (Country Strong) and Jordan Roberts (Around the Bend), adapted from the novel by Michelle Wildgen. [THR]

Read more:
Casting Net: James McAvoy in talks for WikiLeaks movie. Plus: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sara Canning
Casting Net: Rachel Weisz in talks for David Cronenberg’s ‘Map to the Stars.’ Plus: Alan Arkin, Wendi McClendon-Covey
Casting Net: Tim Robbins to star in, direct ‘Man Under’ with Michelle Pfeiffer. Plus: Benedict Cumberbatch, Gemma Arterton, Kristen Wiig

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