The 68th Cannes Film Festival will open next Wednesday under the jury presidency of a pair of brothers from Saint Louis Park, Minnesota. The Coen Brothers aren’t strangers to Cannes since most, if not all, of their films have been shown here over the years.
The brothers will be in good company: A-listers, stars and outstanding actors and actresses and filmmakers–the likes of Cate Blanchett, Catherine Deneuve, Natalie Portman, Salma Hayek, John C. Reilly, Paul Dano, Michael Caine, Naomi Watts, Matthew McConaughey, Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler, Su Qi, Ben Whishaw, Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Jesse Eisenberg, Isabelle Huppert and Woody Allen–are expected on the Croisette starting next wednesday when the festival launches.
The race for the Palme d’Or will pit veteran filmmakers like Gus Van Sant, Jacques Audiard and Nanni Moretti against relative newcomers like Yorgos Lanthimos. This year’s competition is a little more eurocentric than in years past, with three films from Italy and five from France selected in the official program. Eleven European productions in all will be in the running among the nineteen films overall in competition, including several English-language pics; they are, “Tale Of Tales” by Matteo Garrone and “Louder Than Bombs” by Norway’s Joachim Trier, to name a few.
Among other movies vying for the Palme D’Or this year is “Youth,” directed by Paolo Sorrentino, which was co-produced with Switzerland. Film was shot mostly in Switzerland and stars Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel and Rachel Weisz (featured image).
Switzerland made some inroads this year, with three films in the selection. There is “Amnesia,” by Barbet Schroeder starring Marthe Keller and Bruno Ganz (to be shown out of competition), “Vanity” by Lionel Baier and the documentary “Volta terra” produced by Geneva-based Joëlle Bertossa.
The celebrity factor? The celebrity factor. Some people have lamented the paucity of bold-faced stars in this year’s selection and yet, with actors like Catherine Deneuve, Vincent Cassel, Lea Seydoux and Naomi Watts also expected in sunny Cannes, I’m not the least perturbed because of some lack of celebrity wattage.
Unlike previous years that saw Hollywood blockbusters being chosen as the festival’s inaugural film, the 2015 edition will open with an auteurist film bearing social undertones. “La tête haute” was directed by French filmmaker Emmanuelle Bercot. The same Bercot has the lead in French filmmaker Maïwenn’s film “Mon Roi,” which has been slotted in the competition program.
Many Asian authors to be acknowledged this year: a martial arts drama by the brilliant Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien and the latest projects of Hirokazu Kore-Eda and China’s Jia Zhangke. One of the buzz-worthiest films of this year’s edition, especially according to the French press, seems to be “Macbeth,” directed by the Australian filmmaker Justin Kurzel and starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard.
Among the fifty selected films, works out of competition should also be relied on to create quite a buzz on the Croisette, including “Mad Max: Fury Road,” the fourth installment of the futuristic George Miller saga starring Tom Hardy in the Mel Gibson role of avenger of the road.
“Irrational Man,” the new Woody Allen film starring Joaquin Phoenix, the Pixar studios’ “Vice-versa,” the animated film “The Little Prince” (inspired from the Saint-Exupéry novel) and Portman’s directorial debut “A Tale of Love and Darkness” will also premiere this year.
What’s a Cannes Festival without some controversy? (and believe me, the controversy around here is usually short-lived, except for Lars Von Trier’s strange confession of enjoying being a Nazi back at the 2011 edition of the festival which is still talked about today).
Well, O.K., I wasn’t there in 2002 when Gaspar Noé‘s “Irreversible” screened (but I would’ve been among those applauding and jumping up and down the aisle), yet I saw Noé getting that proverbial “never-felt-so-alone” moment when “Enter the Void” was shown here in 2009 and provoked a downpour of fury and indignation. Picture 2,200 people booing, hissing and applauding post-screening while your face is being shown live and direct on the theater’s four story-high movie screen (not awkward. At all).
Will his new film “Love,” whose poster (seen above) features an erect penis freshly-topped with drooling ejaculate, standing against a female breast, cause controversy? Well, you got me there, people. I reeeeaaally don’t know. But we should start calling him (GASP!)Ar Noé.
“The Lobster” by Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos in which humans can be transformed into animals, may also cause a reaction from some people. His film “Dogtooth” about a bourgeois son and daughter that are held hostages in their own home and engage in (unsimulated) sexual acts would’ve given the Westboro Baptist church folks a run for their money, I rickon’. Film was shown in Cannes in 2009. A documentary about singer Amy Winehouse, called “Amy,” and directed by the genial Asif Kapadia has already sparked outrage from the dead singer’s family. But like I said, the controversies surrounding the Cannes Festival movies are polite in nature and don’t overstay their welcome.
So yes, the view from above is nice and I haven’t been this excited about a Cannes cru in year. As my colleague Lisa Nesselson said, “I love this lead-up when everything looks potentially wonderful on paper.”
Me too, Lisa.