Spotlight on this year’s Cannes Selection and who the Palme winner will be. What’s playing out in the jurors’ hotel suite as I type these words is anyone’s guess. How Robert De Niro will steer his jury is hard to tell. When Tim Burton was at the helm last year, people guessing “Uncle Boonmee” by Apichatpong Weerasethakul wouldn’t have been too far off. Burton responds to dream-like, fantasy-related content, and the bewitching but slow movie by the Thai filmmaker was right up his alley. And “Boonmee” did win in the end. But De Niro? “Taxi driver,” along with “Easy Rider,” was one of the best-known movies out of the first independent cinema surge. Since then the “Meet the Parents” actor has usually worked with large, well-heeled movie productions. At the same time, he and Jane Rosenthal started Tribeca Film Festival which tends to showcase little-known filmmakers.
The buzz on the street has Lars Von Trier winning for “Melancholia.” That’s unlikely, considering what took place earlier this week (see our News article). I don’t think De Niro would hand him the Palme given the Danish director’s outrageous comments during the film’s press conference.
The runner-up for the Palme D’Or is a Turkish director who’s already been at the Cannes Festival several times before. The movie in question is called “Once upon a time in Anatolia” and is another of the very slow, meditative and nearly dialogue-free films that we’re used to seeing from Bilge Ceylan. Here’s what Jonathan Romney of Britain’s The Independent said about it: “this lengthy crime drama is the definite slow-burner of the competition, with its share of head-scratching moments. But Ceylan’s austerely no-frills work is also the most serious and intellectually stimulating entry in contention, and shows why the Turkish director is increasingly talked about in the same breath as Bergman and Tarkovsky,” he added.
Another movie which wowed audiences in the first week of the festival, and which is considered by some as a serious contender for the Palme D’Or was Michel Hazanavicius’s “The Artist,” starring Jean Dujardin and the filmmaker’s wife Berenice Bejo. “The Artiste,” which follows the rise and fall of a silent-era movie star (played by Dujardin) is itself in black & white and is a silent movie. Instead of the Palme for Best Movie, my money’s on it for Best Director and Dujardin for Best Male performance. The mightily AWOL Terrence Malick might also swoop down at the last instant to grab the Best Film award. In just a few more hours we will know what fate has predestined. Or what Mr. De Niro has decided, depending on your viewpoint.