It’s that time of year again, with the Cannes Film Festival kicking off on Wednesday amidst unprecedented security measures. Usually the pre-Cannes stories are all about yachts, parties, prostitutes, and producers (the 3 Ps), but this year it’s all about the crazy security in place. That’s a bummer. It kind of feels like the festival is starting on a downbeat. So let’s hope that we get some really good smut out of Cannes this year because this is supposed to be how we get away from the generally depressing state of the world.
There’s not anything immediately leaping out as surefire Oscar bait like, say, Carol last year, but there are a number of perennial award season contenders premiering at Cannes, starting with Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi’s latest film, The Salesman. Pedro Almodovar’s Julieta sounds like a super fun time about a daughter abandoning her mother, but you never want to disregard Almodovar.
Cannes’ favorite Xavier Dolan is back with It’s Only the End of the World, and while his festival success hasn’t translated into award season prestige yet, it’s only a matter of time. World is tailor-made for the French crowd, though, with Marion Cotillard, Vincent Cassel, Lea Seydoux, and Gaspard Ulliel. It’s about a terminally ill writer ruining a family visit. Hand Dolan the Palme d’Or now.
And of course Woody Allen’s latest, Café Society, is opening the festival. The only interest I have in this movie is Kristen Stewart. This is the first of two movies she has at Cannes this year, and I am looking forward to her appearances on the Croisette and dreading having to watching Café Society in equal measure. Once every few years Allen pulls out a gem, but we’re still in the Blue Jasmine bubble, so I’m not holding my breath for Café Society, which looks like all the intolerable, annoying parts of bad Allen films piled together.
All of these are from the out of competition slate and represent the splashy Hollywood premieres, plus Mel Gibson’s comeback attempt in Jean-Francois Richet’s Blood Father, which sounds kind of like Taken but with biker gangs and Mel Gibson. Are we ready to let him come back, though? I’m certainly not.
The other big-name premieres include Jodie Foster’s Money Monster, which means George Clooney and Julia Roberts on the Croisette together, and Shane Black’s The Nice Guys, bringing the Ryan Gosling & Russell Crowe Roadshow to Cannes. It would be so easy for those two to be total sourpusses together, but instead they’re bringing out something pretty great in each other and so far their promotion has been really enjoyable. I look forward to that continuing in Cannes.
Robert DeNiro has a boxing movie with Edgar Ramirez called Hands of Stone that looks kind of like a companion piece to Raging Bull in that DeNiro is coming full circle and taking on the mentor role now. And then there’s Steven Spielberg’s latest children’s fantasy film, The BFG, which is a book I never read so I am not getting the appeal based on the trailer alone. It just looks like your standard kiddie fantasy film, like the thing Spielberg perfected thirty years ago and why is he going back to this well? If you’ve read this book, please tell me what the appeal is supposed to be.
I am a HUGE fan of Korean director Park Chan-wook (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Stoker), so I’m really looking forward to his adaptation of Sarah Waters’ novel, The Handmaiden. I’m also very interested in Jeff Nichols’ latest movie, Loving, about Richard and Mildred Loving, the Virginia couple whose interracial marriage went all the way to the Supreme Court and resulted in ending the ban on interracial marriage. Nichols is once again working with his muse, Michael Shannon, as well as Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga.
Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu made one of the most emotionally harrowing films I’ve ever seen, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. His new movie is called Graduation, and it sounds like the kind of devastating emotional horror show I’ve come to expect from Mungiu—all difficult choices and sh*tty options and moral compromise. And I’m not sure what to expect from Andrea Arnold’s American Honey because it stars Shia LaBeouf and is one hundred and forty-two minutes long. That’s a lot of Beef.
Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson stars Adam Driver as a bus driver poet, and it looks like Jarmusch is staying in the semi-accessible realm of Only Lovers Left Alive with another love story, although this one is much more mundane and has no vampires. Viggo Mortensen stars in Captain Fantastic, which looks like knock-off Wes Anderson and is about an eccentric man raising his children in the woods to be “philosopher-kings”. If there’s such a thing as Indie Spirit Award bait, this is it.
Two of the most interesting movies are Olivier Assayas’s Personal Shopper starring Kristen Stewart, and Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon starring Elle Fanning. Assayas got a career-best performance from Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria, and I’m interested to see what he can get out of her in a leading role. And Demon just looks f*cking weird and very giallo-inspired. I’m getting serious Suspiria vibes from the trailer. I’m a big fan of Drive but Refn’s last movie, Only God Forgives, was f*cking unwatchable, like being hate-f*cked by a director for ninety minutes. So I really hope that Demon is more like Drive and doesn’t make me want to take a shower after it’s over.
Attached – Cannes regular Gong Li arriving in Nice today.