Cannes 2012: Some Thoughts On The Official Lineup
Posted on Thursday April 19, 2012, 17:50 by Damon Wise in Under The Radar
It is, by now, traditional to begin a story about the year's Cannes lineup with a list of films that aren't going to be there, but the big surprise about the 65th edition is just how many are. So let's get all that stuff out of the way. No, Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master isn't going, but with a recently announced October release date – and a controversial subject matter – it was never likely to. Woody Allen is giving his new film To Rome With Love a non-festival premiere in Italy, and also notable by their absence are Terrence Malick's untitled Ben Affleck movie and Wong Kar-Wei's The Grandmasters, although neither director has ever been a safe bet to turn up even when their films are ready and programmed. Other than that, there are no really notable omissions with the possible exception of Derek Cianfrance's The Place Beyond The Pines, which stars Ryan Gosling and could conceivably pop up in the parallel Directors' Fortnight selection, to be revealed in a week's time.
As we know, Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom is the opening film, and, almost as unsurprising to those who've been following the rumours in the trades and on the net, the festival today confirmed slots for Jacques Audiard's Rust And Bone, Walter Salles's On The Road and David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis, which would have provoked rioting in the streets – well, a subdued outbreak of Twittering – had it not been included. As has been widely predicted, this year also sees a big influx of US movies, which, on the surface, offer the requisite star power the festival thrives on but, underneath, are much more independent than the studio movies that have debuted there recently. Into this category fall Lee Daniels' The Paperboy, with Zac Efron and John Cusack, Andrew Dominik's Killing Them Softly (aka Cogan's Trade), starring Brad Pitt and Scoot McNairy, and John Hillcoat's Lawless (aka The Wettest County), starring Tom Hardy and Jessica Chastain. The latter two should be especially interesting; both are helmed by Australians, while Hillcoat's film comes from an adaptation of Matt Bondurant's novel by Antipodean rocker Nick Cave. For me, though, the American film to watch for is Jeff Nichols' Mud, a coming-of-age story about two boys who encounter a criminal on the run (Matthew McConaughey). After Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter, Nichols is fast establishing himself as a gifted and reliable American auteur.
From here we go to the Cannes stalwarts. Michael Haneke? Check: he'll be there with Amour, starring Isabelle Huppert. Abbas Kiarostami? Check: he'll be there with Like Someone In Love, another emigré film, this time shot in Tokyo with a Japanese cast. Sang-soo? Which one – Im or Hong? Check for both, the latter with In Another Country, the former – who brought the great Housemaid two years ago – with The Taste Of Money. And flying the flag for Britain, with a film that couldn't be more Scottish if it was deep fried and served with tatties and neeps, is Ken Loach's The Angels' Share, an offbeat comedy about a plan to steal a barrel of vintage whisky.
Cannes, however, always likes to throw some dark horses into the race, and here we see some fascinating challengers. Matteo Garrone, who impressed with mob drama Gomorrah, returns with Reality (aka Big House) which sees him make the risky switch to comedy, while Romania's Cristian Mungiu, the Palme d'Or-winning director of the harrowing 4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days, will be top of the critics' must-see lists with Beyond The Hills, which promises to be another study of his homeland's painful recent history. And, unusually, there are two provocateurs in competition this year. Mexico's Carlos Reygadas, who can often be relied upon for some graphic sex, is bringing Post Tenebras Lux, while Ulrich Seidl, his somewhat more dour Austrian counterpart, is readying his new film Paradise: Love, which is likely to be pretty rich in irony.
Finally, perhaps the nicest surprise this year is the return of two directors who've had the best and worst of Cannes. The enigmatic Leos Carax, who last competed in 1999 with the, ahem, “misunderstood” Pola X, will be back with the rather bizarre-sounding Holy Motors, starring Eva Mendes and, er, Kylie Minogue. And also back from the wilderness comes Thomas Vinterberg, back in Cannes for the first time since Festen (1998), the film that both launched the Dogme movement and left Vinterberg high and dry by kick-starting his career with a momentum he would be unable to sustain. More in the vein of his last one, Submarino, than the maligned It's All About Love, his new film The Hunt, stars Mads Mikkelsen as a man accused of child abuse.
The Out Of Competition/Special Screenings slots are a little disappointing by comparison, although Bernardo Bertolucci's You And Me could be a low-fi gem that may have crept in completely under the radar. Similarly unheralded and promising is Philip Kaufman's Hemingway And Gellhorn, a biodrama about Ernest Hemingway's romance with a WW2 correspondent starring Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman in the title roles. Midnight Movies is something Cannes traditionally gets wrong, but this year they get full marks for trying. Dario Argento’s Dracula, directed, inevitably, by Dario Argento, gets its 3D unveiling, and Japan's Takashi Miike is it again with Ai To Makoto, a berserk-looking teen comedy/manga mash-up previously known as The Legend of Love And Sincerity.
As always, there are treasures likely to be lurking in the festival's secondary Un Certain Regard section, where we find two films – Pablo Trapero's White Elephant and Xavier Dolan's Laurence Anyways – that figured prominently on the fake Cannes list that appeared sometime around April Fool's Day. Typically, UCR is an unknown territory, although there is bound to be interest in the portmanteau film 7 Dias En La Habana, with segments directed by Benicio del Toro, Pablo Trapero, Julio Medem, Elia Suleiman, Juan Carlos Tabio, Gaspar Noé and Laurent Cantet. Equally piquing everyone's curiosity will be the horror-sci-fi entry Antiviral, by Brandon (son of David) Cronenberg, and I'm especially keeping an eye out for the Indian film Miss Lovely, by Ashim Ahluwalia, which, if the signals haven't been mistranslated, promises to be an Indian fusion of Mean Streets and Boogie Nights. One thing I do know for sure about this section, however, is Benh Zeitlin's great Beasts Of The Southern Wild will make or break here after making is delirious debut in Sundance. Following Martha Marcy May Marlene, which occupied the same slot in 2011, Zeitlin's film is just one of many films that will be debated and contested in the coming weeks, part of an official line-up that, arguably, could not be bettered from the pool of films available.