The 66th Cannes Film Festival is kicking off right now, and maybe you’re already in the south of France with a glass of rosé in your hand, skimming through the festival program. However, for the vast majority of us, this is not the case. Instead of getting Cannes-envy at the various tweets or Facebook statuses wherein the lucky ones announce one of the very first opinions of new films by Roman Polanski, the Coen brothers, Steven Soderbergh, Sofia Coppola and the like, we recommend channeling that feeling into something a little more productive: Go see some movies!
The Croisette isn’t the only place in the world with working movie theaters right now. In fact, there’s a bunch of great films screening in theaters right here at home. There might not be red carpets or fancy French wine, but who really wants to put on a black tie or a gown just to sit in the dark? Your very own No-Cannes-Do Film Festival has a strict no-fancy dress policy and recommends you sneak in a water bottle full of the cheapest French wine you can find. And come next Sunday night, you can have your own closing ceremony in the street outside the movie theater where you declare — based on an esteemed jury of yourself and whoever you bring with you — the first ever winner of the Palme de No One Cares.
Here’s our proposal for your first annual No-Cannes-Do Film Festival:
Wednesday, May 15 (Opening Night Film):
“The Great Gatsby” (Baz Luhrmann)
Wait, isn’t this also the opening night movie in Cannes? That’s right, you’ve actually probably already seen the movie everyone on the Croisette is freaking out right about now. Leonardo DiCaprio and company made it to U.S. screens five days before they opened Cannes, to lackluster reviews but big box office. If you haven’t seen it, this is your only real opportunity to simultaneously experience what’s on the big screen in Cannes. If you have seen it and weren’t exactly a fan, we recommend giving it a second chance with a heightened awareness the folks in Cannes are unlikely to be able have access to. Say at the 4:20 screening? We promise it will be much better this time, at least for the first hour.
Thursday, May 16:
“In The House” (Francois Ozon)
The latest film from Francois Ozon — “Young and Beautiful” — is premiering in Cannes tonight. But his previous film “In The House” has recently expanded to arthouses all over the U.S., and it’s one of the filmmakers best. The film follows sixteen year old student Claude (young and beautiful newcomer Ernst Umhauer) who charms his French teacher Germain (Fabrice Luchini) — not to mention the teacher’s wife (Kristin Scott Thomas) — with a series of stories about his middle class classmate Rapha (Bastien Ughetto) and his family. It’s twisty and clever and you get the dose of Kristin Scott Thomas you’ll miss from Cannes’ “Only God Forgives.”
Friday, May 17:
Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach)
Look, it’s a movie centered solely on woman! That’s not something offered by too many films in Cannes’ competition. And more over, it’s a fantastic one. Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig’s collaborative “Frances Ha” is a seemingly effortless black-and-white
comedy that opens in theaters this Friday. It centers on titular Frances (Gerwig, in her best performance yet), a
struggling post-modern dancer fumbling her way through her late 20s in New York. Comparisons to “Girls” are inevitable (Adam Driver even has a supporting role), but “Frances Ha” is endearing, awkward and relatable in a unique (and in this writer’s opinion, superior) way.
Saturday, May 18:
The Place Beyond The Pines (Derek Cianfance)
Jealous that everyone in Cannes gets to see Ryan Gosling all ripped and shirtless in Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Only God Forgives”? Well, it’s coming out Stateside in a month or two, and there’s already a movie where Ryan Gosling is ripped and shirtless in theaters right now: “The Place Beyond The Pines.” He’s only in a third of it, so you can focus your energy on daydreaming about marrying Ryan Gosling for the other two thirds. Those suckers in Cannes will have to watch the whole thing!
Sunday, May 19:
Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley)
One of the most acclaimed films to come out of Venice and Toronto last fall, Sarah Polley’s deeply personal
documentary about her own family is now in theaters, and it’s better than any documentary you’ll see in Cannes competition (because there are no documentaries in Cannes’ competition, but still). Polley uses home movies, new interviews and
voice-over narration to explore secrets in her own family in the incredibly moving doc, which will give you yet another reason to love
the Canadian child actress turned woman who can clearly do anything (including sit on the Cannes jury that gave the Palme to “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” — sorry, we needed another Cannes connection).
Monday, May 20-Friday, May 24:
The Angel’s Share (Ken Loach), Mud (Jeff Nichols), Sightseers (Ben Wheatley), Reality (Matteo Garrone) and Post Tenebras Lux (Carlos Reygadas)
If they were good enough for Cannes last year, they are good enough for No-Cannes-Do this year. These five films all screened at last year’s festival, and three of them won major prizes (Grand Prix winner “Reality,” best director winner “Post Tenebras Lux” and Jury Prize winner “The Angel’s Share”). And it just so happens all of them are now currently in U.S. theaters. So make like it’s 2012 and take one each weeknight next week (and if you’ve already seen or two, home-view “Amour,” “Holy Motors,” “Rust and Bone,” “Moonrise Kingdom” or “Cosmopolis” instead).
Saturday, May 25:
Before Midnight (Richard Linklater)
The likely frontrunner for your Palme de No One Cares, Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy’s wonderful third collaboration in the “Before” series hits U.S. theaters as Cannes starts coming to a close. It might just be the must see indie of the
summer, and those poor folks at Cannes will miss out (though let’s be honest, if they are at Cannes they probably were at Sundance, SXSW and/or Tribeca, and “Before Midnight” screened at all three). The film reunites us with Jesse (Hawke) and Céline (Delpy) almost two decades after they met on a train bound for Vienna in “Before Sunrise.”
Now in their early 40s, “Midnight” finds the couple reuniting in Greece
and likely facing a time constraint related to 12am, though try not to
let yourself know much more than that going in. The less known the
better as we enter the third chapter of one of the great love stories of
American indie cinema.
Sunday, May 26 (Closing Night Film)
Behind The Candelabra (Steven Soderbergh)
Just five days after everyone at Cannes had to dress up in black tie and put on their faces to go see Steven Sodebergh’s “Behind The Candelabra,” you can do so in your own living room! On May 26th, the first ever HBO film to screen in competition in Cannes will hit U.S. small screens. Based on Scott Thorson’s 1988 memoir, “Behind the
Candelabra: My Life With Liberace,” the film stars Michael Douglas as
Liberace and Matt Damon as Thorson, his longtime lover. We suggest you hold a Liberace-themed closing night party for your little festival in your own living room, upping the ante from a no-fancy dress code to “Liberace-fabulous.” Break out the cheap wine and you’ll probably have way more fun than anyone stuck inside the stuffy closing night festivities over in Cannes.