By David Poland firstname.lastname@example.org
As regular readers know, I don’t do Cannes.
My feelings about the festival’s role on the domestic stage have not changed. However, as my focus on DP/30 continues to grow, the opportunity to dig into such a rich buffet makes a lot of sense for that purpose. And I certainly enjoy the notion of getting to some of these films first, to establish my own feelings, before they become part of what seems to be a worse case of altitude sickness on the part of media than any other fest in the world.
About half of the directors of competition films have already been captured in DP/30s. I look forward to talking to as many of them as possible again. Return engagements have become a great joy of this process. (The biggest negative response to an interview with Haneke, who I really liked a lot, was that I didn’t speak German and should have learned it to speak to the great man… and that I asked him about his early days in TV, which I found fascinating. I’ll try to do better this time.)
The Weinsteins bring utter insanity to Cannes this year in the form of Brad Pitt. They have Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly, which stars Pitt as an “enforcer”… which is the kind of role one would expect audiences to get very excited about. Also on their docket is the renamed Lawless (formerly The Wettest County In the World), from John Hillcoat, with a killer cast including Hardy, Pearce, Oldman, LaBeouf, Chastain, and Wasikowska.
Jeff Nichols, who will be at Ebertfest next week with Take Shelter (and Mike Shannon), comes to Cannes with an unsold film, Mud, starring McConaughey and Witherspoon, but apparently led by two teen unknowns.
Getting the shots of Kristen Stewart and Rob Pattinson together will be the #1 non-Pitt priority at the festival this year. He is the lead in the still-unsold Cosmopolis, from David Cronenberg, in what looks like it could be his ticket to a future past Twilight. And K-Stew is in the lovely and talented Walter Salles’ On the Road, also without US distribution. (This one is crazy loaded with former DP/30 interviewees, four of them multiple interviewees.) The commercial “problem” may well be that the leads, Sam Riley (who blew up in Control) and Garrett Hedlund (who led Tron: Legacy in late 2010) are the leads and even though both are beautiful actors, in a tough market for indies these days, distributors would be selling the supporting cast first. Salles also made the terrific The Motorcycle Diaries… which underperformed domestically. So… we shall see. (Hedlund stays in the 60s with the Coen Bros next film as well.)
Perhaps the biggest US surprise in the festival is The Paperboy. Lee Daniels, in his first post-Oscar-nomination film (and his second Cannes festival screening), leads with Zac Efron… yes, that Zac Efron. Great cast behind him… McConaughey (with multiple Cannes entries), Nicole Kidman, John Cusack, and Scott Glenn. It’s a Millennium/Nu Image, which to be honest, taints it a little. And you won’t need to read reviews to see how this film does. If it gets picked up at the fest, it’s probably quite good. If it ends up being distributed by the producer in the US, it’s probably not.
Of course, what really drives Cannes is the European film market and, increasingly, the high end of the Asian art cinema.
Audiard, Carax, Garrone, Loach, Renais, Reygadas, and Seidl are all familiar names on the continent. Kiarostami is a deity in this arena. South Koreans Im Sang-soo and Hong Sang-soo were both at Cannes in 2010. Sergei Loznitsa returns with his second non-doc feature, In The Fog. Cristian Mungiu (4/3/2) has had every feature he’s made at Cannes. Egyptian Yousry Nasrallah has had multiple films at the fest. And of course, Vinterberg and Dogma 95 was celebrated with The Celebration at Cannes, though this is his first time back in competition in the 14 years since then. And closer Claude Miller is back for the first time in 9 years.
But not a drop of truly new blood in competition this year.
I guess that’s the provenance of Un Certain Regard. But more on that later…