Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Fremaux sent out mixed messages in his — very long, as usual — preamble to announcing this year's Cannes Film Festival lineup. First he mentioned a focus on newer, fresher filmmakers, but mentioned elsewhere that “Cannes is an event for the regulars.” Predictably enough, the latter statement turned out to be closer to the truth: of the 18 films competing for this year's Palme d'Or, 13 have been to the dance before. (And of the Competition virgins, Bennett Miller and Xavier Dolan are hardly unknowns.)
Early on, meanwhile, Fremaux made the initially bold statement that 15 women were in the Official Selection, promising a bounty of female directors for jury president Jane Campion to consider. It turned out to be a slight manipulation of the truth: several of those women are involved in portmanteau films, while only two of them — Naomi Kawase and surprise inclusion Alice Rohrwacher — are in the Competition. (Hey, it's twice as many as last year.)
So, as ever, Cannes giveth and Cannes taketh away. But for fans of A-list auteurism and Hollywood royalty alike, this year's lineup is a rich and generous one. Star-watchers will line the red carpet to see the likes of Channing Tatum (“Foxcatcher”), Kristen Stewart (“Clouds of Sils Maria”) and — twice — Robert Pattinson (“The Rover” and “Maps to the Stars”) strut their stuff, with Cannes regular Ryan Gosling returning to present his directorial debut “Lost River” (formerly “How to Catch a Monster”).
Meanwhile, arthouse acolytes will be salivating over new works from Mike Leigh, Jean-Luc Godard, the Dardenne Brothers, Olivier Assayas, Nuri Bilge Ceylan and many more. At first glance, it may not be the most adventurous selection Cannes has ever assembled, but it's a sparkly one all the same.
Anyway, Cannes has long left the job of identifying and rearing new talent to other festivals, picking up on their discoveries when they're a little more seasoned. It says a lot that a director like Austria's well-regarded Jessica Hausner scored a critical smash with “Lourdes” in the Venice competition five years ago, but is here deemed ready only for an Un Certain Regard slot. Meanwhile, 77-year-old British social realist Ken Loach returns to Competition for the 12th time with his period political drama “Jimmy's Hall.” The Cannes hierarchy is not easily shaken.
Loach is one of three former Palme d'Or champions returning for more; another is his fellow British elder statesman Mike Leigh, whose long-cherished passion project “Mr. Turner” — his highest-budgeted film to date — brings him back to the fold four years after “Another Year.” Two-time Palme winners Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne came very close to winning a third in 2011 in “The Kid With a Bike”; they're returning with “Two Days, One Night,” their starriest effort to date. The Marion Cotillard-led economic-crisis drama was described by Fremaux as a “Belgian western,” though that could mean pretty much anything.
Certain things may have been lost in translation, but Fremaux's own descriptions of the films were often amusingly offhand or cryptically dismissive. Lisandro Alonso's Un Certain Regard entry “Jauja” was helpfully sold to us as “very strange,” while he listed the running time of Nuri Bilge Ceylan's latest Anatolian epic — and sight-unseen Palme d'Or favorite — “Winter Sleep” as 196 minutes, before adding, “We'll put it near the start of the festival, so you can recover.” Sold.
As widely expected, the possibility of seeing Terrence Malick or Paul Thomas Anderson's heavily-shrouded new films on the Croisette remained a pipe dream. Indeed, only two US directors are in the Competition lineup. Two also made Un Certain Regard: Gosling and Ned Benson, whose “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” initially screened at Toronto as a work in progress. (Interestingly, there's no obligatory Sundance title in UCR this year: did Cannes agree with most that January's Park City lineup was a little lackluster?)
We unofficially reported the inclusion of Bennett Miller's “Foxcatcher” last month: the wrestling-related biopic was initially slated to open AFI Fest last year before being pushed to 2014, so already comes with a thick cloud of awards buzz. The inclusion of Tommy Lee Jones' “The Homesman” — a period pioneer western starring Hilary Swank and Jones himself — was equally expected, with Jones having taken a prize at Cannes with his last directorial effort, “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,” in 2007.
Three Canadians, meanwhile, made the cut. David Cronenberg's Hollywood satire “Maps to the Stars” was likened by Fremaux to Robert Altman's “The Player,” and with an ensemble including Pattinson, Julianne Moore and John Cusack, should live up to its title. The other two are both returning swiftly after last fall's festival circuit, one covered in more glory than the other. Atom Egoyan took a critical beating for his West Memphis Three drama “Devil's Knot,” and will be hoping to rebound with his Ryan Reynolds-starring kidnap thriller “The Captive.”
25-year-old wunderkind Xavier Dolan, on the other hand, was so peeved when his third feature “Laurence Anyways” only made the Un Certain Regard list in 2012 that he took his next film, “Tom at the Farm,” off to Venice — where he received the best reviews of his career. Perhaps that was a factor in Cannes selectors finally stroking his ego: he finally cracks the big league with his fifth feature “Mommy.”
Four Frenchmen are in Competition, two of them playing the Hollywood game slightly. Two years after winning the Oscar for “The Artist,” Michel Hazanavicius returns with a contemporary remake of Fred Zinnemann's 1948 war drama “The Search,” starring Berenice Bejo and Annette Bening; Olivier Assayas' “Clouds of Sils Maria” reteams the auteur with local icon Juliette Binoche, but also adds an unexpected dose of US youth power with Kristen Stewart and Chloe Grace Moretz. Bertrand Bonello's “Saint Laurent” is the second and starrier of two Yves Saint Laurent biopics this year, the first having played Berlin in February. (Here's hoping Bonello's is the better one too.)
New Wave veteran Jean-Luc Godard, however, appears to making no such concessions to the mainstream with “Goodbye to Language,” his first Competition entry since 2001's “In Praise of Love.” Perhaps surprisingly, he's never won the Palme d'Or; if the film delivers and the jury's feeling sentimental, he could be a serious threat.
Plenty more to discuss, from the inclusion of David Michod's post-apocalyptic thriller “The Rover” — the festival's second Robert Pattinson starrer — out of competition in the Midnight Screenings section, the relegation of Mathieu Amalric to Un Certain Regard four years after winning Best Director and the light relief of “How to Train Your Dragon 2” flying by the Croisette, but we'll get to all that in due course. Meanwhile, check out the full lineup on the next page.
Opening Film (out of competition)
“Grace of Monaco,” Olivier Dahan
“Clouds of Sils Maria,” Olivier Assayas
“Saint Laurent,” Bertrand Bonello
“Winter Sleep,” Nuri Bilge Ceylan
“Maps to the Stars,” David Cronenberg
“Two Days, One Night,” Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
“Mommy,” Xavier Dolan
“Captives,” Atom Egoyan
“Goodbye to Language,” Jean-Luc Godard
“The Search,” Michel Hazanavicius
“The Homesman,” Tommy Lee Jones
“Steal the Water,” Naomi Kawase
“Mr. Turner,” Mike Leigh
“Jimmy's Hall,” Ken Loach
“Foxcatcher,” Bennett Miller
“The Marvel,” Alice Rohrwacher
“Timbuktu,” Abderramahne Sissako
“Wild Tales,” Damien Szifron
“Leviafan,” Andrei Zvyagintsev
Out of Competition
“Coming Home,” Zhang Yimou
“How to Train Your Dragon 2,” Dean Deblois
“Les Gens du Monde,” Yves Jeuland
Un Certain Regard
“Party Girl,” Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis
“Jauja,” Lisandro Alonso
“The Blue Room,” Mathieu Amalric
“The Misunderstood,” Asia Argento
“Titli,” Kanu Behl
“Eleanor Rigby” Ned Benson
“Bird People,” Pascal Ferran
“Lost River,” Ryan Gosling
“Amour Fou,” Jessica Hausner
“Charlie's Country,” Rolf de Heer
“Snow in Paradise,” Andrew Hulme
“Dohee-ya,” July Jing
“Xenia,” Panos Koutras
“Run,” Philippe Lacote
“Turist,” Ruben Ostlund
“Hermosa Juventud,” Jaime Rosales
“Salt of the Earth,” Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado
“Fantasia,” Wang Chao
“Harcheck Mi Headro,” Keren Yedaya
“Silver Water,” Mohammed Ossama
“Maidan,” Sergei Loznitsa
“Red Army” Polsky Gabe
“Fantasies of Democracy” Stephanie Valloatta
“Bridges of Sarajevo,” multiple directors
“The Rover,” David Michôd
“Salvation,” Kristian Levring
“The Target,” Chang