As the first lady of cinema gets dressed and ready for her close-up, a brief look at the lineup seems appropriate just before I board my train to Cannes.
The selection of the 69th Cannes Festival, which opens tomorrow, is the strongest one in years. Paul Verhoeven’s “Elle,” starring Isabelle Huppert, holds the promise, for better or worse, of vanquishing the extremes of sadism and survivalism. France’s Bruno Dumont has directed Fabrice Luchini and Juliette Binoche in “Ma Loute,” and this film could translate into some big wins for this bijou from France.
Almodovar disappointed with his last two films. “Julieta,” (in competition) promises to make inroads into Almodovarian tropes.
Xavier Dolan (can we call him just “Dolan,” now?) is coming back to the Croisette with “Juste la fin du monde,” and here, just the title is exciting to read.
Brazilian filmmaker Kleber Mendonça Filho, a former film critic, is appearing for the first time in competition with “Aquarius,” starring Sonia Braga. Braga plays Clara, an old music critic living in Recife (“Aquarius” was filmed there) who also has time-traveling powers.
I am particularly looking forward to Alain Guiraudie’s “Staying Vertical.” Guiraudie’s “Stranger by the lake” was my favorite film in the Un Certain Regard lineup in 2013. The film, a fastidious pas-de-deux between crime intrigue, testosterone excesses and the thrill of sexual fulfillment, went on to win one prize (a Cesar for Best new actor at the Cesars) and seven nominations, including one at Sundance in the Spotlight series.
Other films that are included this year in the competition program: “American Honey,” by Andrea Arnold, “The Neon Demon,” by Nicolas Winding Refn, “La fille inconnue,” by the Dardenne Brothers, “Gimme Danger” by Jim Jarmusch, “I, Daniel Blake” by Ken Loach, “Ma’Rosa” by Brillante Mendoza, “The Salesman” by Asghar Farhadi, “Sieranevada” by Cristi Puiu, “Toni Erdmann” by Germany’s Maren Ade.
Visit the festival’s newly-revamped site for the full list of films: http://www.festival-cannes.com/en/selection/competition-1
Live coverage from the Cannes Festival begins on Wednesday, May 11th. Now let’s go to the videotape: