casA couple of weeks ago Avi Arad said that there was a director who was very interested in Silver Surfer, but who hadn’t signed anything. This guy had made a mental commitment, though – and he was a Zen Buddhist.

At the time that rang some bells – there was one director I knew whose Zen Buddhism had led him to make his latest film, one of my favorites of last year. Now it seems that the word in Hollywood backs up my thoughts – the guy could be I <3 Huckabees director David O Russell.

David O Russell is one of my favorite current directors. I had a chance to catch Flirting With Disaster randomly on HBO a month back and I was enthralled again. That’s the best way to judge a work sometimes – if I am choosing to put in a Russell film I have consciously chosen that film based on how I feel. But that movie, which I actually consider his least, just sucked me in – even in full screen. And I hadn’t seen the film since I was watching movies on VHS, so it was a nice surprise in general.

Russell and the Surfer are an odd pair. It will be interesting to see what he can do with a character whose very appearance demands a ton of special effects, but I think the elements of guilt and existential crisis that have made the Surfer one of those characters who can’t seem to carry a comic of his own for any period of time will also make him an ideal Russell character. To me this is Ang Lee taking on Hulk all over again, but this time I’m hoping that Russell doesn’t forget to make his movie enjoyable and fun.

Of course this may not go anywhere. Russell does have a new feature getting prepped, with Vince Vaughn as a radio host who takes on the traits of the loonies who call into his show. Still, if there’s one interesting thing about the modern superhero movie fad, it’s seeing great directors like Russell tackling left field concepts.