Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cannes 2012: The Hit List

 Ever since I secured an internship at this year's Cannes Film Festival, I've been eagerly awaiting the selection and the screening schedule. Now, the former has been out for a few weeks now, but the actual schedule has only arrived as of this morning. Though I still don't know what days I'll be working/not working, here's a run down of the heavy-hitters I'll try to see from the competition, the Un Certain Regard, and everything else:

In Competition:
Moonrise Kingdom dir. Wes Anderson: Great cast, nice premise, and typical killer visuals/production values. I'm not always a fan of Anderson's work (I think I was the one person who didn't "get" Fantastic Mr. Fox), but he's always interesting at the very least.

Rust and Bone dir. Jacques Audiard: Though I'm still slightly iffy on the story (it seems to be more of a relationship drama/character piece, though), the idea of Marion Cotillard working with the director of the outstanding A Prophet (2009) has tremendous potential. Throw in Matthias Schoenaerts, who won raves for his work in Bullhead, and you have one of my most anticipated entries. 

Beyond the Hills dir. Cristian Mungiu: This one was on my radar since announcement, but it only shot up to my top priorities after I saw Mungiu's 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, which earned the director the Palme D'Or in 2007. Mungiu's latest once again centers to the relationship between two women, although this time the central conflict revolves around one woman's desire to leave Romania, while the other wishes to stay and work in a convent. On paper the story doesn't have the immediate drama of 4 Months, but I'm hopeful that Mungiu can work his magic once again.

Amour dir. Michael Haneke: Speaking returning Palme D'Or winners, Michael Haneke returns this year with his follow-up to The White Ribbon, which earned him the top prize in 2009. The story here is also simple - an elderly couple tries to cope when one of them suffers a heart attack - but the people involved are reasons to get excited. In front of the camera are the brilliant Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Louis Trintignant, along with Certified Copy's William Shimmell. 

Killing Them Softly dir. Andrew Dominik: Originally titled Cogan's Trade, Dominik's follow-up to 2007's masterful The Assassination of Jesse James once again finds Brad Pitt leading the way, albeit in a drastically different time period. The little snippets released on line make this look less lyrically beautiful than James, though that seems appropriate given the subject matter.  Boasting a stellar supporting cast (Ben Mendelsohn, Richard Jenkins, Garrett Dillahunt), Softly looks like a very different, yet very worthy follow-up to Dominik's last outing.

Cosmopolis dir. David Cronenberg: Many complained that last year's A Dangerous Method felt too safe and bland for a Cronenberg film, but those same voices likely won't say the same about the director's latest. Based on Don Delilo's novel about a young executive enduring a surreal journey across a chaotic Manhattan, this looks like an eerie, brutal return to form for Cronenberg. Though I wish Colin Farrell had stuck with the lead role, I won't completely disregard Robert Pattinson. There's still hope for him as an actor...not much, but some. Also, Juliette Binoche is in it, which is never a bad thing. Ever.

Mud dir. Jeff Nichols: Though not slated for a U.S. release until 2013, the chance to see Nichols' follow-up to Take Shelter (my favorite film of 2011) is extremely tantalizing, in part because I was under the impression that the film hadn't even been shot until it was announced as part of the line up. While the presence of Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon makes me leery, Mud does reunite Nichols with Michael Shannon, and the story holds a lot of promise.

The Paperboy dir. Lee Daniels: This is easily the competition film that I'm most nervous about. Daniels' last film may have been Precious, but the man has directed straight up trash before. The subject matter is interesting, but this feels like a potentially messy, over the top mystery thriller that only seems worth seeing for Nicole Kidman's reportedly strong performance. If only the actress was attending the festival for Park Chan-wook's Stoker instead...

Like Somone In Love dir. Abbass Kiarostami: Just two years ago, Kiarostami's Certified Copy lit up Cannes, and now the ecletic director is back, jumping from Italy to Japan. Details on the story aren't clear, so my anticipation for this one is based strictly on my admiration for the director, who will hopefully provide something as lovely and mysterious as his previous film.

Un Certain Regard:
Laurence Anyways dir. Xavier Dolan: Though I've never seen any of directing wunderkind Xavier Dolan's, I'm still intrigued by his next film. The young director is known for having a strong grasp on tone and style, which is always exciting in someone so young.

Out of Competition:
Hemingway and Gellhorn dir. Philip Kaufman: Technically an HBO movie, Kaufman's look at the relationship between Ernest Hemingway (Clive Owen) and Martha Gellhorn (Nicole Kidman) looks like the sort of epic, intelligent romance that no one really tries to make anymore. The film also has an amazing supporting cast in addition to the two striking leads, and Kaufman has done excellent work over the years (The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Quills).

Once Upon a Time In America dir. Sergio Leone: Though I've seen this Leone classic several times, the chance to revisit it on the big screen seems like too good of an opportunity to pass up. 

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