This morning, the lineup for the 2014 Cannes festival was announced, and there’s certainly some goodies on the list. I’m not sure what’ll walk away with the top prize–I’m not as devoted a student of the Cannes awards as I am of the Oscars–but I’ll make a few guesses as we go along. Let’s see what we have. (List order and some descriptions are from Variety. Other citations as needed.)
The festival opener is Grace of Monaco, the Grace Kelly biopic starring Nicole Kidman, directed by Olivier Dahan. This always sounded like Oscar bait to me, but will the reviews validate me? The fact that it got pushed back doesn’t bode well, so I’m not expecting much.
Now for the films in competition for the Palme:
- The Captive, by Atom Egoyan. Variety merely calls it “an abduction thriller”, but there’s a trailer available, so…
Looks all right. Not the most original premise or anything, but it’s got a good cast, looks well directed, and I actively like the score. I don’t think it has a chance in hell at winning, mind you, but I’d be quite willing to watch it.
- Clouds of Sils Maria, by Olivier Assayas. “about an actress who withdraws to the Swiss town of the title”, starring Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, and Chloe Grace Moretz. Certainly an interesting cast. No trailer, but we’ve got a few pics and a poster:
Could be a good low-key drama. I’m also going to say this has a strong shot at Best Actress. I’m not familiar with Assayas’ work (though he’s done some films I’m intrigued by), but I’d like to see this too.
- Foxcatcher, by Bennett Miller. Oh, hell yes. This is the Steve Carell-Channing Tatum-Mark Ruffalo true-story drama where Carell plays a psychopathic billionaire who murders…Tatum, I think? Looks absolutely incredible. There was a great trailer, let’s see if it’s still online:
Can’t fucking wait.
- Goodbye to Language, by Jean-Luc Godard. Up front, I’ll tell you, I’m not a Godard fan. His style just doesn’t do it for me. I don’t have plot details, but it’s in 3D. Here’s a trailer.
I’ll see this if I can see it in 3D. Otherwise, I’m not going to bother. My gut tells me this could win–Godard has never won the Palme–but mostly for extra-cinematic reasons.
- The Homesman, by Tommy Lee Jones. Already talked about this. Very excited. Melquiades Estrada won Best Actor (for Jones) and Best Screenplay, so he’s got a good track record going in. I don’t think this is likely to win, but it could pick up an award or two.
- Jimmy’s Hall, by Ken Loach. Here’s the trailer:
A friend of mine thinks this is the frontrunner to win. I’m dubious. I think it looks kind of slight for a winner, plus Loach won a few years back (for The Wind That Shakes the Barley). We’ll see who’s right.
- Leviathan, by Andrei Zvyagintsev. “A multi-character fusion of social drama and sci-fi set in ‘a new country’.” That, plus my general fascination with Russian cinema (though I haven’t seen Zvyagintsev’s The Return, easily his most famous film), makes this sound like something I’d go for. I’ll leave it at that until we at least have a trailer.
- Le Meraviglie, by Alice Rohrwacher. “The story of a 14-year-old girl in the Umbrian countryside whose secluded life is shattered by the arrival of a German ex-con.” Monica Bellucci is in it. No idea if this will be any good or not. The story seems kind of been-there-done-that, but I’ll wait for reviews on this one.
- Maps to the Stars. Need I say more?
- Mommy, by Xavier Dolan. Dolan directed Laurence Anyways, a film I’ve been really wanting to see. It’s described only as a “relationship drama”. So…we’ll see what we get.
- Mr. Turner, by Mike Leigh. A biopic about the 19th-century British landscape painter J.M.W. Turner, starring Timothy Spall. Leigh’s Topsy-Turvy is one of my favorite films, and his track record is strong, so I’m excited for this. I think Spall could be a strong contender for Best Actor. Since I haven’t put up an image lately, here’s one I found:
- Saint Laurent, by Bertrand Bonello. It’s a biopic about fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. Bonello directed House of Pleasures, I film I’ve heard some good things about. This film, according to Wikipedia, focuses on his life from 1965 to 1976, which would omit some of the more dramatically compelling–if tragic–parts of his life. So I’m not sold on this one yet. The fact that there was another French film about Saint Laurent this year (which got pretty limp reviews, it seems) doesn’t help. (Side note: 20-25 years ago, Gary Oldman would have been a perfect choice to play YSL.)
- The Search, by Michel Hazanavicius, his first feature film since The Artist. A remake of Fred Zinnemann’s 1948 film, set against the Chechen wars. Obviously expectations will be high, but I’m a little dubious. Hazanavicius’ films henceforth have had a strongly satirical element, and while comic directors can successfully go serious (a lot of The Artist is pretty dark), I’m not sure what he’ll bring to this material. Plus, the Cannes website claims a running time of 2-1/2 hours, which…this could be really ponderous if they don’t nail it.
- Still the Water, by Naomi Kawase. “Centers on a young couple trying to solve a mysterious death.” Kawase won the Grand Prix (the second-place prize) for her 2007 film The Mourning Forest, so there’s some promise there. I don’t know anything else about this one.
- Timbuktu, by Abderrahmane Sissako. About “a young couple who were stoned to death in northern Mali for the crime of ‘not being married before God’.” Reminds me a bit of The Stoning of Soraya M. That film was no great success, so who knows how this’ll turn out.
- Two Days, One Night, by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. About “a young woman trying to convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses so she can keep her job.” Starring Marion Cotillard. The Dardennes have won the Palme twice (for 1999’s Rosetta and 2005’s L’enfant), so consider this a threat. I’ve never seen their work, so I have no idea if this will be any good or not. Here’s the trailer:
No subtitles, so I can’t judge it totally accurately. Doesn’t look bad. Doesn’t look outstanding, either. Might be a threat for Best Actress.
- Wild Tales, by Damian Szifron. A “series of comic sketches”. Pedro Almodovar was a producer. That’s all I know. I can’t imagine this has any chance.
- Winter Sleep, by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Oh hell yes. 3 hours and 16 minutes. Given that I thought Ceylan’s last film, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (which won the Grand Prix), was absolutely incredible, and made excellent use of its own formidable running time, I’m really excited to see what this turns out to be. This has to be one of my most anticipated entries in this festival.
Now for the films in Un Certain Regard:
- UCR opens with Party Girl, by Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis. “A 60-year-old nightclub hostess who finally decides to settle down by marrying a member of her clientele.” Selected because “we’ve noted that the young French cinema is in a state of fervor and vitality, and we need to encourage it” – Thierry Fremaux, festival artistic director.
- Amour Fou, by Jessica Hausner. “A parable about the ambivalence of love.” May be about the German poet Heinrich von Kleist.
- Away From His Absence, by Keren Yedaya. All I know is, it’s Israeli.
- Bird People, by Pascale Ferran. “A relationship drama with a supernatural element.”
- The Blue Room, by Mathieu Amalric. Based on a Georges Simenon novel.
- Charlie’s Country, by Rolf de Heer. Starring David Gulpilil. About Aboriginal culture. de Heer’s a very interesting director (his Bad Boy Bubby is a great black comedy), so I’d like to see how this turns out.
- Eleanor Rigby, by Ned Benson. Starring Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy. This used to be The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, and it was two 90-minute films (telling the same events from both Chastain’s and McAvoy’s perspectives). Now it’s one two-hour film. I don’t like that. This had been one of my more anticipated films of the year, but if it’s only coming out in this truncated form, I’m not having it.
- Fantasia, by Wang Chao.
- Force Majeure, by Ruben Ostlund. “Deploys ‘aesthetic and narrative codes that are completely different from what we’re used to.'” Well all right then.
- A Girl at My Door, by July Jung. A South Korean film about “a young woman being abused by her stepfather.”
- Hermosa juventud, by Jaime Rosales. If you didn’t know, the title means “Beautiful Youth.” That’s about all I’ve got.
- Incompresa, by Asia Argento. Apparently stars Charlotte Gainsbourg. Not sure what this is. Argento’s film The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things got poor reviews, so I’m not expecting a ton from this.
- Lost River, by Ryan Gosling (his debut). Previously called How to Catch a Monster. Wikipedia offers this synopsis: “A single mother enters a dark lifestyle, while her son uncovers a road leading to an underwater utopia.” It was shot in Detroit, and stars Christina Hendricks, Saoirse Ronan, Eva Mendes, Ben Mendelsohn, and Matt Smith. At the very least, I want to see this, because it sounds weird as shit. It could be a pretentious mess, but I’m at least interested. Also, here’s a still:
I hope it’s worthwhile.
- Run, by Philippe Lacote. “A drama about a runaway who has just killed the prime minister of his homeland.” It appears to be set in Cote d’Ivoire. Sounds interesting.
- Salt of the Earth, by Wim Wenders and Julian Ribeiro Salgado. A documentary about the photographer Sebastiao Salgado (Julian’s father). Wender’s Pina was great, so this has some promise.
- Snow in Paradise, by Andrew Hulme. “The story of a petty criminal in London’s East End who seeks redemption through Islam.” Funded through Kickstarter. If it doesn’t get preachy, it could be worthwhile.
- Titli, by Kanu Behl. “Follows a young man in Delhi trying to escape the oppression of his brothers.” Apparently an independent film backed by a major Indian studio. Another one to keep an eye on.
- An as-yet-untitled film by Lisandro Alonso. “Viggo Mortenson stars in this drama about a father and daughter journeying from Denmark to an unknown desert.” May be titled Jauja.
- Xenia, by Panos Koutras. “Two brothers head to Thessaloniki to look for the father they’ve never met in this dark portrait of contemporary Greek society.” Doesn’t seem to be a Greek New Wave entry, but I have some interest.
Out of competition films:
- Coming Home, by Zhang Yimou. His 12th collaboration with Gong Li. “A romantic drama set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution.” The fact that an outing by a pretty major filmmaker is being shown out of competition makes me wonder about its quality, but I’m definitely intrigued by the idea of a film that deals with the Cultural Revolution.
- How to Train Your Dragon 2. Meh. I’m not especially interested in this. Admittedly, I haven’t given the first film a proper watch, but it never really compelled my attention.
- The Rover, by David Michod, who made Animal Kingdom. Just take a look at the trailer.
- The Salvation, by Kristian Levring. Thierry Fremaux says, “It’s a Danish Western, and that’s the best way to describe it.” So…that could be something.
- The Target, by Yoon Hong-Seung. A remake of a French film called Point Blank, which got really strong reviews. But was it worth remaking?
And lastly, the special screenings:
- Bridges of Sarajevo. An anthology film commemorating the centenary of World War I. One of the shorts is by Godard. Anthology films are usually an iffy proposition, but this intrigues me.
- Caricaturistes: Fantassins de la democratie, by Stephanie Valloatto. A documentary on newspaper cartoonists. If it takes a sufficiently innovative approach, I’d be interested.
- Maidan, by Sergei Loznitsa. A documentary about protests in Ukraine.
- Red Army, by Gabe Polsky. A documentary about “Russian hockey culture during the Cold War”. As a Slavic Studies minor, this and Maidan might be worth checking out.
- Silvered Water, by Mohammed Oussama and Wiam Bedirxan. A documentary about the war in Syria. I’ll see what the reviews are like.
There’s also a special screening of a documentary by Yves Jeuland, Les Gens du Monde, about the French newspaper Le Monde.
And that’s that. A lot of potential. No idea what’ll win the Palme.