American cinema has always been prominent in the Cannes Festival’s programming, thanks to Gilles Jacob and Thierry Frémaux, president and programming director respectively, both of whom give our cinema ample screen time (the festival will take place May 16-May 27. Italy’s Nanni Moretti will be president of the jury).
Last year, Cannes was the launchpad for two American productions, The Artist, which went on to win the Oscar, and Tree of Life by Terrence Malick. This year, things are again looking great. The new Wes Anderson film, Moonlight Kingdom, will open the festival.
Moonlight Kingdom, with a sixties look that would make Todd Solondz proud, is about a boy scout who cannot stick to the confines of his uniformed brotherhood and chases the girl he loves even if that means ostracizing himself. We’re deep in Wes Anderson country, with costumes and set designs curated so exhaustively as to recall that long-gone period, one where pre-1968 innocence is affected by a growing disillusion and rampant alcoholism (Bill Murray who plays the girl’s father, guzzles non-stop).
As always in a Wes Anderson movie, no detail is spared, a fact that became especialy clear in his 2007 Darjeeling Limited.
Moonlight Kingdom follows directly in the line of the Royal Tenenbaums, Life Aquatic and Rushmore. If you have any doubts about pedigree, take a look at the Moonlight cast: it includes Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray, two undisputed Anderson stalwarts. Other Moonlight Kingdom cast members include Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand and Bruce Willis.
Based on buzz and timing, we can guess that the adaptation of On the Road, starring Kirsten Stewart and Sam Riley and directed by Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries) will also make its international debut. It’s not a hard guess: last-minute post-production issues notwithstanding, On the Road will be in the official program.
Although he hasn’t been there in a few years, director Salles is a well-liked cineaste in France. A fluent English and French speaker, Salles is one of those rare filmmakers who’s modest and discreet as well as talented. Like Anderson, Salles only releases a new movie every four years. The long-awaited adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s seminal novel should reach a wide audience. If ever a movie had a college demographic built-in, On the Road, a favorite on college reading lists, is it.
The movie stars Kirsten Stewart, Sam Riley, Kirsten Dunst and Viggo Mortensen.
Screen Comment editor Ali Naderzad will cover the Cannes Festival.