Having earned his leading man Javier Bardem an Oscar nom with 2010’s Biutiful, Mexican helmer Alejandro González Iñárritu is set to tackle another morally ambiguous father figure with his next film, an as-yet untitled adaptation of Jennifer Vogel’s 2005 memoir “Flim-Flam Man: The True Story of My Father’s Counterfeit Life”. The project, which will be backed by New Regency, already has a script from Fair Game scribe, Jez Butterworth.
The book centers on the author’s father, John Vogel, a career criminal who dabbled in arson, robbery, conspiracy to commit murder, and fraud before being arrested in one of the largest counterfeit bill seizures in US history in 1995. The meat of the account takes place after this arrest, when Vogel managed to escape custody, leading to a six-month manhunt and giving his daughter plenty of material for a kickass true crime book. Hit the jump for more, including a full synopsis.
Underneath all the sexy criminal shenanigans, this one seems like another opportunity for Iñárritu to explore the idea of intertwining fates and the devastating impact that people can have on one another. There’s an intriguing complexity to John Vogel, a man who behaved reprehensibly and openly preached the virtues of corruption to his daughter, but also, according to the synopsis, baked her lemon meringue pies, wrote a novel, and once emptied out a movie theatre so she could watch Rocky all by herself on Christmas Eve. Just as intriguing, though, is the confusion and inner turmoil that must arise from having such a man for a father.
Here’s the official book synopsis for Flim-Flam Man (via Amazon):
A frank and intimate portrait of a charismatic, larger-than-life underworld figure, as told by the daughter who nearly followed in his footsteps.
“Do unto others before they do unto you,” John Vogel used to advise his daughter, Jennifer. By his account, the world was a crooked place and one had to be crooked in order to survive. A lifelong criminal, John robbed banks, burned down buildings, scammed investors, plotted murder, and single-handedly counterfeited more than $20 million. He also wrote a novel, invented a “jean stretcher,” baked lemon meringue pies, and arranged for ten-year-old Jennifer to see Rocky in an empty theater on Christmas Eve. In his reckless pursuit of the American Dream, he could be genuinely good. When it came time to pass his phony bills, he targeted Wal-Mart for political reasons.
In 1995, following John’s arrest in what turned out to be the fourth-largest seizure of counterfeit bills in U.S. history, he managed to slip away, leaving his now grown daughter to wonder what had become of him. Framed around the six months Jennifer’s father ran from the law, Flim-Flam Man vividly chronicles the police chase — stakeouts, lie detector tests, even a segment on Unsolved Mysteries. In describing her tumultuous life with John Vogel, Jennifer deftly examines the messy, painful, and almost inescapable inheritance one generation bequeaths to the next.