Elle Fanning is on the jury at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which kicks off tomorrow, so all you really need to know is that this is a red alert, ELLE FANNING FASHION PARADE moment. She wore one of my all-time favorite red carpet dresses at Cannes in 2017. Can she top it?! What will she wear this time?! Honestly, I am most excited for Elle Fanning’s fashion parade. But Cannes is, ostensibly, about The Movies, so let’s talk about them.
The opening night film is Jim Jarmusch’s zombie movie, The Dead Don’t Die. This brings a star-laden cast to Cannes—and puts Tilda SWINTON and Elle Fanning on the same red carpet—and gives us the next part in Jim Jarmusch’s apparent quest to redefine genre movies. His previous movie, Only Lovers Left Alive, is one of the best vampire films ever (if you’re not watching the What We Do in the Shadows TV show, you missed Tilda Swinton reprising her role), so it will be interesting to see what Jarmusch does with zombies. I am loving this phase of Jarmusch films, it feels like he is doing it explicitly for me.
Here is one minute of Adam Driver saying “ghouls” in the trailer, in case that is your new sexuality:
Terrence Malick has been prodigious this decade—in a career ranging over forty years, he’s cranked out HALF his filmography in the last eight years—and his latest film surprised me by appearing in the competition lineup. I’d heard it wasn’t ready just a few months ago, which is not surprising because Malick is famous for missing deadlines. But he apparently pulled it out and has a cut ready to be viewed. His latest is called A Hidden Life, and it’s about a conscientious objector in World War II. Though Malick has made a lot of movies recently, the results have been mixed. Interested to see if this is more Tree of Life or Knight of Cups.
Cinema’s enfant terrible, Xavier Dolan, returns to Cannes with Matthias & Maxime, a story about childhood friends who feel some sh-t after kissing. Dolan is a Cannes superstar, and his last film there won the grand prix (despite critical panning). The festival loves him, critics don’t always. If he can line the two up this year, this could be an early Oscar contender.
Bong Joon-ho is also back, after Okja set off the Netflix row, with a film called Parasite, which is about class in South Korea. And Robert Eggers, who made the near-perfect horror movie The Witch, brings his sophomore effort, The Lighthouse, starring Willem Defoe and Robert Pattinson. After The Witch, expectations are HIGH, to say the least.
Pedro Almodovar reunites with both Antonio Banders and Penelope Cruz for a film called Pain & Glory, about a filmmaker musing about his f-ck-ups as consequences finally beset him. Werner Herzog also has a new film screening out-of-competition, called Family Romance, LLC, which is set in Japan and is about a man hired to impersonate a child’s missing father. And the Dardennes brothers are also back with Young Ahmed, about a Muslim schoolboy who is radicalized. The Dardennes do painful realism very well, so this is probably going to be f-cking impossible to watch, which means it will win the Palme d’Or.
How far will Tarantino go?
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was a late addition to the Cannes lineup, and another film we can count on to deliver some good old-fashioned Hollywood glamour. (Add the out-of-competition premiere of Rocketman to that list, as well.) But the big question here is, how far will Quentin Tarantino go? We’ve all been nervous about this movie because of its Charles Manson connection. Will he go too far? Or will QT surprise and do something tasteful with it? Will it even matter, or will everyone jerk off over his DiCaprio-Pitt dreamboat Rat Pack fantasy? I am a huge fan of Tarantino, but this movie makes me VERY nervous, and all I really want to know is whether or not this will be horrifying. No one cares about blowing up Hitler in a movie theater because there is no cinematic death you can give him that is any more pathetic than his actual one, but the Tate murders are different. They were innocent victims of a horrible crime and we do not need Tarantino to re-stage the event. Here’s hoping he surprises us all.
Let’s hear it for the girls
Four women have films in the main competition (Atlantique, Little Joe, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, and Sibyl). That’s not a lot, but it is 19% of the roster, an uptick from previous years. Including all the non-competition slates, there are twenty films by women at the festival. It’s not amazing, they lag far behind other major festivals on this score, but it is an improvement, brought on, in part, by inviting a selection committee with equal gender parity. This year’s festival was curated by men and women equally, and wouldn’t you know it, more women popped up on the roster. Cannes has a long way to go—they lag way behind other prominent film fests on this score—but they finally seem to realize they need to do more to support diverse voices in cinema.
Attached - the Cannes jury posing during a photocall today.