Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cannes 2010 Competition Preview From a Cineaste Who Still Doesn't Know Half the Directors In Competition

The Cannes Official Selection of 2010 is announced. With less than 25 until the festival, Cannes whets our appetites by offering the films that we're all going to be dying to see. As the title mentions, I have no clue who many of these directors are, but that means I have more parts of the cinema to be introduced to. I do know a few In Competition: Mike Leigh (who won the Palme d'Or in 1996 for "Secrets & Lies") , Alejandro González Iñárritu, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and Doug Liman, as well as Abbas Kiarostami (who won the 1997 Palme d'Or for "Taste of Cherry"), Takeshi Kitano, and Bertrand Tavernier as directors I've heard of but never seen. As for Un Certain Regard, we have Derek Cianfrance, Manoel de Oliveira, Lodge Kerrigan, Hong Sangsoo, Christi Puiu, and Xavier Dolan, as well as the historic Jean-Luc Godard. There are a couple of interesting things out-of-competition, and I'll get to those soon. I lastly would like to cite that, as The Playlist said, I'm depressed to see the absence of Malick in competition, as Mr. Terrence has created one of my "most anticipated films" of 2010 in "The Tree of Life" which looks monumental. Apparently there's a way you can enter late, but many think that he's going to pass on Cannes and finish his film properly. I'm so impatient, but I'm glad: when it finally gets here, it will be amazing and well-crafted.

Here's some close analysis of the films of the festival:

Competition --> President of the Jury: Tim Burton

Jury: Kate Beckinsale (weird since she was in a Valerie Plame movie, could this have an effect?), Giovanna Mezzogiorno ("Vincere"), Alberto Barbera ("member of the Jury in 1939" (IMDB),
Emmanuel Carrere ("La Moustache"), Benicio Del Toro ("Che," "Traffic"), Victor Erice ("Spirit of the Beehive"), Shakhur Kapur ("Elizabeth")

Torneé directed by Mathieu Almaric (Running Time: 1 hour 51 minutes)

Almaric has been one of my favorite actors, in films such as "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," "A Christmas Tale," and Cannes 2009's "Wild Grass" (which I have not gotten the chance to see). I'm glad to hear that he's directing and starring in his own film, "Tornee," in which he apparently plays the lead character named Joachim. Julie Ferrier ("Micmacs") plays herself apparently, so is there some metaphysical-ness at play? Also appearing are Anne Benoit and Damien Odoul in as-of-now unnamed roles. The film is shot by Christophe Beaucame ("Mr. Nobody," "Coco Before Chanel," "Paris"), and I think he's pretty traditional but good (although that's just from seeing the trailers for the three films). Apparently the film is about "American burlesque girls on tour in France," which sounds weird... But I'll see it for Mr. Almaric. Does it have a shot at the Palme D'or? No. Almaric maybe for best director, but I'm going to be surprised if it wins.

Of Gods and Men (Des Hommes et des dieux) directed by Xavier Beauvois (Running Time: 2 hours)

This film is "a drama about Cistercian monks who stand up for their beliefs when confronted by fundementalists" (IMDB). I dunno, but I think the style is going to define this film. I don't know of Beauvois, who's apparently an actor as well as a director. His biggest directorial release by far is "The Young Lieutenant" which hit at the Venice Film Festival and was actually released in the United States (a feat that none of his other directorial efforts managed). He has an acting role in Jean-Paul Salome's "The Chameleon," which will appear at this month's Tribeca Film Festival with Ellen Barkin, Brian Geraghty, and Emilie de Ravin. Back to his newest film, which is his first appearance at Cannes as far as I know. The actors are Lambert Wilson, Michael Lonsdale, and others, although there are no character names so it could be a true to life film. The cinematographer is Caroline Champetier, who shot Leos Carax's "Merde" from "Tokyo," as well as most of Beauvois' films. Does it have a chance at the Palme? Definitely. This subject matter has a shot with any Cannes jury. But perhaps Xavier Beauvois will pull a Xavier Giannoli and miss out.

Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi) directed by Rachid Bouchareb (2 hours 11 minutes)

This guy's last film, "Days of Glory," played at Cannes four years ago and took home Best Actor ("for its ensemble"). This one, apparently a sequel to that film, is "a drama about the Algerian struggle for independence from France after WWII" (IMDB). So kind of in the vein of "The Battle of Algiers"? It has I think the same actors from the first film, as well as Almaric's cinematographer Beaucame, who I guess is now building up his cred. I wonder if this film is watchable without seeing the first film. Does it have a shot at the Palme? Yes. But will Burton head for a war film? That's the question. Bouchareb is experienced, though, and that helps.

Biutiful directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu (2 hours 18 minutes)

Now I start talking about stuff I know. This was one of my most hot prospects of 2010. This is also the film that I think will dent the Oscar circuit (along with "Another Year"). The synopsis is: "A man involved in illegal dealing is confronted by his childhood friend, who is now a policeman," IMDB), which sounds enthralling. Inarritu is the director of "Amores Perros," "21 Grams," and "Babel," all three respected by the Academy Awards, so there you go. Plus, Javier Bardem is in it. This looks like one of the best films of this year's Cannes, and something I'll be able to see soon. Does it have a shot at the Palme? More likely Best Director or Screenplay for Inarritu. Considering Burton is the head of the jury it's chances are slightly diminished. But I guess.

A Screaming Man (Un Homme Qui Crie) directed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (1 hour 40 minutes)

There is absolutely no information about this film online. As Ebert said, there are films that go to Cannes without IMDB pages, and this is one of them. Haroun is a Chadian filmmaker whose "Abouna" premiered at Cannes 8 years ago, perhaps his most famous film. "Darratt," another of his films, "won the Grand Special Jury Prize at Venice 2006." I haven't heard of this director, but I'm interested in seeing what this film is. Does it have a shot at the Palme? I don't know the plot details, but it's hard to say. I think Haroun has a chance.

P.S. The title is another addition to the "Man" titles that I (as well as Nick Davis) have been noticing recently.

The Housemaid directed by Im Sangsoo (1 hour 46 minutes)

This is a "remake" (as Twitch said) by Sangsoo, whose "The President's Last Bang" I hope to see soon. It seems like a horror film (as it remakes a "shocking film," of the "crime, drama, and horror" genres (IMDB and its users)), which Cannes apparently needs a couple of every year (or maybe just last year had an abundance): "A man's affair with his family's maid leads to a dark consequences" (gramatically incorrect, but okay, IMDB). I'm very interested, as it sounds intriguing. Here's a trailer, (first reported by Twitch) which makes me think the same as a commenter: "very interesting." I'm glad there are films like this to diversify Cannes. (Apparently, "Do-Yeon Jeon won Best Actress at Cannes 2007." (Youtube Trailer description)) Does it have a shot at the Palme? No. Diversify Cannes maybe, but not be the best film. It may take the Jury Prize route that "Thirst" did last year.

Certified Copy (Copie Conforme) directed by Abbas Kiarostami (1 hour 46 minutes)

As my friend said, here is a "heavy-hitter," or two, rather, with Kiarostami directing Juliette Binoche. Synopsis is: "In Italy to promote his latest book, a middle-aged English writer meets a young French woman and jets off to San Gimigano with her" (IMDB). Young French woman? Binoche is 46 years old... I dunno. I guess it's worth seeing because of the players involved, and I guess because it could be a "stylish film" (as others have said I believe), but I'm not intensely excited for a romantic comedy like this one. Does it have a chance at the Palme? It's more likely that it will be Best Actress for "Cannes poster girl" Binoche. But who knows? It's Kiarostami, so you have to give him a shot. But maybe he'll win Best Director...

Outrage directed by Takeshi Kitano (2 hours)
Kitano is a huge action director apparently, and this is his newest film, which is like the "Vengeance" of 2010. I'm really looking forward to seeing his other films and this one as well. Kitano stars as Otomo. The film already has an MPAA rating of R for "violence, language, and brief sexuality," which means it will probably drop in America between now and the Toronto Film Festival. It will probably be a summer release by its company Warner Brothers, who might put it mainstream... Cannes for the greater public? It will most definitely not win the Palme d'Or, but it may be some peoples' first Golden Palm (that is not "Pulp Fiction"). Does it have a chance at the Palme? No. Simply put, action films don't win Palmes (unless it's Pulp Fiction, and apparently The Playlist says that "Cannes loves Quentin").

Poetry directed by Lee Chang-Dong (2 hours 15 minutes)

Synopsis is "A drama centered on a woman at the end of her life in search of new meaning." (IMDB). Kind of like "Ikiru," eh? This guy is a Cannes veteran, with "Secret Sunshine" under his belt (Best Actress winner of 2007). He also did "the seminal film in the Korean New Wave" (Netflix), "Oasis." The actors are Yoon Hee-Jeong and Da-Wit Lee. Very little has been said about this film on its IMDB page. Does it have a chance at the Palme? This film is the frontrunner in my mind right now. Considering its subject matter, this movie seems to be the archetypal Golden Palm winner. It could all fall apart, but probably not. The only deterrent could be that they could give Best Actress to the actress who plays the lead character, and Cannes doesn't allow multiple awards to films.

Another Year directed by Mike Leigh (2 hours 9 minutes)

Leigh goes in with the advantage of having extreme respect. "Happy-Go-Lucky" got into my Top Ten List of 2006, and he, as noted before, won the Golden Palm for "Secrets & Lies" 14 years ago. Shot by Dick Pope (his regular guy) and (as the Playlist said) with Jim Broadbent and Imelda Staunton as a couple of the actors, this will be very Leigh and most likely very good. I'm really looking forward to it. Does it have a chance at the Palme? There are not a lot of double Palme winners, but I think Leigh may have an outside chance. Probably he won't get anything and maybe one of his actors will.

Fair Game directed by Doug Liman (1 hour 44 minutes)

Liman doesn't have a very impressive resumé, having directed the terrible "Jumper" and the heavily commercial "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," but he did do "The Bourne Identity," which holds up very nicely in comparison to the two films by Greengrass. The subject matter got him in, and it may get Oscars as well: the "Valerie Plame Scandal," which "Nothing But the Truth" didn't do very well with. Sean Penn and Naomi Watts star. Watts has a shot at Cannes Best Actress (and that of the Oscars) for playing Plame, as well as Penn as Joseph Wilson. Sounds interesting, and could be good if done well. Does it have a chance at the Palme? Not at all. Political thrillers don't win Palmes, either. Watts and Penn have have much better chances winning the acting categories.

My Joy directed by Sergei Loznitsa (2 hours 7 minutes)

No IMDB page, so this is futile. He did do a film called "Revue," which is apparently "a vibrant portrait of in the Soviet Union during the 50's and 60's" (Netflix) that is apparently much like Guy Maddin or Terence Davies (because of its "food for nostalgia" (IMDB user)). Does it have a shot at the Palme? The subject matter gives it all away, and we don't have it. I'll do a feature later (more detailed), but for now there's no way of knowing. I'll make a guess that it does...

La Nostra Vita directed by Daniele Luchetti (1 hour 33 minutes)

This is apparently a "comedy" (IMDB), with actors such as Raoul Bova ("Alien Vs. Predator," "Sorry If I Love You") and Riccardo Scamario (from the director's "My Brother is an Only Child") and a score by Luchetti regular Franco Piersanti. The director's biggest hit it seems was "Child," which got a US release and played at Cannes in 2007. So Luchetti is a veteran, which is a good sign for the film's award chances. Does it have a shot at the Palme? Yes, but a smaller one since it's a comedy.

Burnt by the Sun 2 (UTOMLYONNYE SOLNTSEM 2) directed by Nikita Mikhalkov (2 hours 21 minutes, making it the longest film In Competition)

This film is a sequel to "Burnt by the Sun," which Mikhalkov brought to Cannes in 1994 to win the Grand Prix and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. To add to that, it won Best Foreign Film at the Oscars of 1994, only the second Russian film to do so (IMDB). His last film, "12," was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the 2007 Oscars as well as the Golden Lion at Venice 2007. He is considered to be the "Russian = Spielberg" (IMDB). So it should be interesting to see how well this does in America and here, although I probably won't be able to see it until I see the original "Utomlyonnye Solntsem." Mikhalkov stars as Col. Sergei Petrovich Kotov, and most of the rest of the cast is back from the first. Does it have a chance to win the Palme? I really don't think so. Mikhalkov won two prizes last time, and I don't think the jury will e as generous this time. But maybe the subject matter ("Stalinism" (IMDB) will prevail. Probably not, however.

La Princesse de Montpensier directed by Bertrand Tavernier (2 hours 15 minutes)

I know Tavernier from his 1974 work "The Cl0ckmaker" (which I've never seen, but heard of). His latest film was "In the Electric Mist," which didn't get the best critical reception apparently. Not much has been said about the plot, but I can say that Gaspard Ulliel, Mélanie Thierry, and "Of Gods and Men" actor Lambert Wilson are involved in it. Does it have a chance at the Palme? Having no plot details makes it hard. But once the profiles come out about the films, we can tell. Because of Tavernier's prestige and the possible subject matter, possibly. But I'm not sure it'll be able to compete with some of the other films up this year.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Long Boonmee Raleuk Chat) directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul (1 hour 54 minutes)

Weerasethakul is a very respected filmmaker, whose "Syndromes and a Century" was proclaimed Best Film of the Decade by the Toronto Film Festival (and it was good, but a little hard-to-get). His "Tropical Malady" came to Cannes in 2004 and won the Jury Prize (and also got listed on the Sight and Sound 30 to "represent the decade." So it's safe to say he has high status. His new film is a "comedy" (IMDB), in which "on his deathbed, Uncle Boonmee recalls his many past lives" (IMDB). I don't think it has much relation to his short film "A Letter to Uncle Boonmee" from last year, which is apparently much more serious and much more symbolic and political. This sounds very good, and I'm looking forward to it. Does it have a chance at the Palme? Probably not. But Weerasethakul seems like a perfect candidate for Best Director (he's "due," says my friend), due to the history of Nuri Bilge Ceylan, a director who showed two films, winning prizes for one, and then going on to win Best Director.

Early Predictions for Competition Awards
Palme d'Or - "Poetry" by Lee Chang-Dong (or "A Screaming Man" by Mahamat Saleh-Haroun, or "Of Gods and Men" by Xavier Beavois)
Gran Prix - "Outside the Law" by Rachid Bouchareb
Best Director (Prix de Mise-en-Scene) - Apichatpong Weerasethakul (or Abbas Kiarostami)
Best Actor - Javier Bardem (or Sean Penn, Nikita Mikhalkov (which would be a good consolation prize for the Palme d'Or)
Best Actress - Juliette Binoche or Naomi Watts (I think they have equal chance right now) (or Yoon Hee-Jeong)
Best Screenplay - Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, "Biutiful" (or Apichatpong Weerasethakul for "Uncle Boonmee...")

And I'm not going to go about predicting Jury Prizes just yet.

I've realized I don't have the strength in my to do Un Certain Regard, etc. So I'll split it up like others have done and this will be a competition feature.

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