Cannes 2015: What to expect

ScreenerBlog

Attributable perhaps to the romanticism of its French Riviera locale, the Cannes Film Festival is among the most glamorous events of the year, rivaling the Oscars for buzz, parties and the outfits that propel both.

And then there are its films. The 68th iteration of the festival begins tomorrow and includes an eclectic lineup in which there’s much to excite fans of all tastes: From Mad Max to Paolo SorrentinoGaspar Noé to Pixar (we do hope the two are never again paired together, in any manner, even syntactically), and Shakespeare to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, this year’s slate yields much to anticipate.

Co-presidents Joel and Ethan Coen preside over a main jury that includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Sienna Miler, Guillermo del Toro and Xavier Dolan, among others. Isabella Rossellini serves as president of the Un Certain Regard jury and will also present a documentary on her mother, Ingrid Bergman, directed by Stig Björkman.

It remains to be seen which filmmakers these arbiters of talent will choose to honor, but we have highlighted several movies that we believe are of particular interest, by virtue of the talent involved, the source material or the effectiveness of the marketing campaign. The full and partially annotated list of offerings for the 2015 Cannes Film Festival is below. Be sure to check back here in the coming days as we post regular dispatches from the Croisette!

Opening film:
La Tête HautedirEmmanuelle Bercot

Competition films:
Macbeth
Dir. Justin Kurzel
Starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard
There is little one can say to explain why this film is so hotly anticipated beyond repeating the names of its two stars as a kind of (rather fitting, given the context) incantation. Any project headlined by Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard would pique the interest of innumerable fans, but one in which they’re called upon to embody two of the most tortured figures in the Western literary canon? In which they’re called upon to deal in sex, violence and the language of The Bard? Well. We’ll line up early for this one.

Carol
Dir. Todd Haynes
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler
The mind of the ever-adaptable novelist Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley, Strangers on a Train) has once again been mined for the silver screen. Carol is based on Highsmith’s 1952 novel that is sometimes published as The Price of Salt. The film is another offering that has enjoyed much advance press thanks to the wattage of its stars, not to mention the lesbian romance in which they engage while wearing pretty costumes, but we’re particularly excited to see director Todd Haynes revisit the 1950s setting he filmed to award-winning effect in 2002’s Far from Heaven. The Mildred Pierce filmmaker exhibits a sure hand when directing his leading women, and here he has had the opportunity, to our benefit, to work with two sure talents.

Youth
Dir. Paolo Sorrentino
Starring Michael Caine, Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano, Harvey Keitel
The Academy Award-winning director of last year’s Best Foreign Language Film, The Great Beauty, returns with another rumination on the mental, social and physical effects of aging, in Youth. The Italian Paolo Sorrentino shot his latest film all in English and cast it with an interesting mix of Anglophone stars: Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel are the aging artist protagonists out on a last hurrah of a vacation, and they share the spotlight with Rachel Weisz, Jane Fonda and Paul Dano. The enduring halo of interest conferred upon those who have recently won Oscars should be enough in and of itself to guarantee much attention will be paid to Sorrentino’s entry, but we will see if Youth does indeed prove a Beauty.

The Sea of Trees, dir. Gus Van Sant

Sicariodir. Denis Villeneuve

Louder than BombsdirJoachim Trier

Saul Fia (Son of Saul), dirLászló Nemes

Mia MadredirNanni Moretti

Mon RoidirMaïwenn

The LobsterdirYorgos Lanthimos

Umimachi Diary (Our Little Sister)dirHirokazu Kore-Eda

Shan He Gu Ren (Mountains May Depart)dirJia Zhang-Ke

Nie Yinniang (The Assassin)dirHou Hsiao Hsien

Il Racconto dei Racconti (The Tale of Tales)dirMatteo Garrone

Marguerite et Julien (Marguerite and Julien)dirValérie Donzelli

La Loi du Marche (The Measure of a Man)dirStéphane Brizé

Dheepan (working title)dir, Jacques Audiard

Chronicdir. Michel Franco

The Valley of LovedirGuillaume Nicloux

Un Certain Regard films:

Madonnadir. Shin Suwon

Marylanddir. Alice Winocour

The Fourth DirectiondirGurvinder Singh

Masaan (Fly Away Solo), dirNeeraj Ghaywan

Hrútar (Rams), dirGrímur Hákonarson

Kishibe No Tabi (Journey to the Shore), dir. Kurosawa Kiyoshi

Je Suis Un Soldat (I Am a Soldier), dir. Laurent Larivière

Zvizdan (The High Sun), dir. Dalibor Matanic

The Other Side, dir. Roberto Minervini

One Floor Below, dir. Radu Muntean

The Shameless, dir. Oh Seung-Uk

The Chosen Ones, dir. David Pablos

Nahid, dir. Ida Panahandeh

The Treasure, dir. Corneliu Porumboiu

Alias Maria, dir. José Luis Rugeles Gracia

Taklub, dir. Brillante Mendoza

Lamb, dir. Yared Zeleke

Cemetery of Splendourdir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Sweet Red Bean Paste, dir. Naomi Kawase

Out of Competition films:

Mad Max: Fury Road
Dir. George Miller
Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult
Any discussion of the latest Mad Max film seems to demand one open with the question, “Have you seen the trailer?” The operatic images of eroding dunes; the masticating machinery; the villain’s Kabuki face makeup and red eyes, the stuff of unshakable childhood nightmares; the score that is as duly grand as one would assume the apocalypse does indeed warrant, all make for a rock 'n' roll attraction. The trailer is darkly frenetic and seems to improve upon the Frank Miller/Sin City comic-book aesthetic that has been otherwise diluted amid repetition in recent years. George Miller of the original Mel Gibson-starring Mad Max (1979) films once again writes and directs.

Inside Out 
Dir. Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen
Voices of Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Diane Lane, Bill Hader
Pete Docter, the man behind the empathetic Up, returns with a venture that would appear to come furnished with land mines: investigating the mind of an 11-year-old girl.  The emotions of our heroine are anthropomorphized into colorful figures that man the control center of her brain, and are voiced by Amy Poehler (Joy), Mindy Kaling (Disgust, spot-on) and Bill Hader (Fear), among others. Given that Riley has recently endured the adolescent trauma of matriculating into a new school, one can assume her characterful emotions will be, as is the Pixar way, on moving display. 

The Little Prince
Dir. Mark Osborne
Voices of Rachel McAdams, Jeff Bridges, James Franco, Paul Rudd, Paul Giamatti
Oh, boy. As is seemingly the case with every adaptation of a beloved text, one could hear the sharp intake of breath that accompanied news of A Little Prince movie, an inhalation that has yet to be released as fans await director Mark Osborne’s (Kung Fu Panda) interpretation of the French children’s book classic.

By the looks of the trailer, Osborne has taken a middle road between satisfying the demands of a booming market for computer-animated children’s movies and hewing close to the iconic if old-fashioned illustrations of his 1943 source material. The film is a story-within-a-story, featuring a computer-animated girl who listens to a stranger (Jeff Bridges) recount the tale of the titular prince, whose adventures are imagined using stop-motion animation. There is a danger the story’s moral could be treated with a maudlin hand, but we’re excited to see if the hybrid approach favored by Osborne, whose 1990’s Nickelodeon cartoon “KaBlam!” rivaled “H.R. Pufnstuf” for trippiness, succeeds.

Irrational Mandir. Woody Allen

Special Screenings films:

Oka, dir. Souleymane Cissé

Sipur Al Ahava Ve Choshech (A Tale of Love and Darkness), dir. Natalie Portman

Hayored Lema’ala, dir. Elad Keidan

Amnesia, dir. Barbet Schroeder

Panama, dir. Pavle Vuckovic

Asphalte, dir. Samuel Benchetrit

Une histoire de fou (Don’t Tell Me the Boy Was Mad), dir. Robert Guédiguian

Midnight Screening films:

Love
Dir. Gaspar Noé
Starring Karl Glusman

Noé is best known for his 2009 film Enter the Void, in which he reportedly enlisted the help of the infamous Yakuza Japanese mafia to act as his “locations managers” and grant him shooting access to Tokyo sex clubs otherwise restricted to foreigners. How does one top such a gambit? By either making an about-face and shocking everyone by doing something decidedly un-shocking, or, as you may have guessed, by upping the ante. Given the IMDB plot summary of the film, “A sexual melodrama about a boy and a girl and another girl,” and the graphic NSFW poster recently released with the tasteful tagline, “Coming soon,” it’s safe to assume Noé has opted for the latter course. It is unsurprising that Love has been filed under the Midnight Screening category.

Amy
Dir. Asif Kapadia
Starring Amy Winehouse
The life of the incredibly and ultimately tragically talented Amy Winehouse was riddled with drama toward its end, and it would seem this documentary from Senna director Asif Kapadia is in accord with its subject. Winehouse’s family has disassociated itself from the film, with the late singer’s father, Mitch, going so far as to publicly lambast Kapadia and threaten legal action against him. The trailer for the doc makes it seem like a bittersweet rendering of a vulnerable woman unprepared for and even uninterested in fame. She did not, apparently, believe she would ever be famous, nor, one assumes, did she imagine she would become a member of the unenviable “27 Club,” comprised of musicians who died at that age. But if nothing else, Amy will provide viewers with yet another opportunity to listen to that voice.

O Piseu (Office), dir. Hong Won-Chan

Critics’ Week films:

Dégradé, dir. Arab and Tarzan Nasser

Krisha, dir. Trey Edward Shults

Mediterranea, dir. Jonas Carpignano

Ni le Ciel, Ni la Terre, dirClément Cogitore

Paulina, dir. Santiago Mitre

Sleeping Giant, dir. Andrew Cividino

La Tierra y la Sombra, dirCésar Acevedo

The Anarchists, dirElie Wajeman

Les Deux Amis, dir. Louis Garrel

La Vie en Grand, dir. Mathieu Vadepied

Directors’ Fortnight films:

Dope
Dir. Rick Famuyiwa
Starring Shameik Moore, Forest Whitaker, Zoë Kravitz
This most recent offering from Brown Sugar writer/director Rick Famuyiwa was a hit at Sundance and so far enjoys a perfect 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It certainly does look as if its title would serve as its own best adjective: The film combines computer animation with videogame graphics and a host of other fancy editing techniques as it attempts to capture the overlapping tech layers of modern life, and certainly as it’s lived by teens like Dope’s protagonist Malcolm. Many teen fans will likely know Dope as that “A$AP Rocky” movie, or the one with that girl from Divergent (Zoë Kravitz), but their parents will be more impressed with the presence of Forest Whitaker. Dope is screening out of competition as a Directors’ Fortnight offering, but it seems bound to draw a crowd.

In the Shadow of Women, dir. Philippe Garrel

Allende, Mi Abuelo Allende, dir. Marcia Tambutti

Arabian Nights, dir. Miguel Gomes

The Brand New Testament, dirJaco Van Dormael

The Cowboys, dir. Thomas Bidegain

Embrace of the Serpent, dir. Ciro Guerra

Fatima, dir. Philippe Faucon

My Golden Years, dir. Arnaud Desplechin

Green Room, dir. Jeremy Saulnier

The Here After, dir. Magnus von Horn

Much Loved, dir. Nabil Ayouch

Mustang, dir. Deniz Gamze Ergüven

Peace to Us in Our Dreams, dir. Sharunas Bartas

A Perfect Day, dir. Fernando León de Aranoa

Songs My Brothers Taught Me, dir. Chloé Zhao

Yakuza Apocalypse: The Great War of the Underworld, dir. Takashi Miike