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13 Films We're Excited To See at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival

Indiewire By Indiewire | Indiewire May 13, 2013 at 12:07PM

The 2013 edition of the Cannes Film Festival kicks off this Wednesday with the international premiere of a film most of us Stateside folks have already seen -- Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby." But after that comes dozens of films that have yet to screen in any public capacity, including new work from Sofia Coppola, Nicolas Winding Refn, Claire Denis, James Gray and Jim Jarmusch (among many, many others).
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"Behind the Candelabra"
HBO "Behind the Candelabra"

The 2013 edition of the Cannes Film Festival kicks off this Wednesday with the international premiere of a film most of us Stateside folks have already seen -- Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby." But after that comes dozens of films that have yet to screen in any public capacity, including new work from Sofia Coppola, Nicolas Winding Refn, Claire Denis, James Gray and Jim Jarmusch (among many, many others).

Indiewire will be on the scene offering updates starting Wednesday, but in the meantime we figured we'd offer the 13 films we're especially looking forward to at Cannes '13. And please note there's plenty more where that came from (it says something about how plentiful Cannes is when the latest from the Coen Brothers, Roman Polanski and Alexander Payne don't make our narrowed personal cut), so check back for the latest reviews and buzz suggesting what the true standouts of the 66th edition of Cannes are.

"All is Lost"
J.C. Chandor's debut feature "Margin Call," a well-acted look at a burgeoning financial crisis, was often more interesting for its visual polish than the vaguely defined story. So it makes sense that Chandor would follow that movie up with something even more cinematically intriguing: "All is Lost" stars Robert Redford and only Robert Redford as a man lost at sea and struggling to stay alive. Early reports indicate that the movie has no dialogue, but don't expect "The Artist"-level gimmickry: This looks like a seriously intriguing tale of mortality featuring an actor overdue for another challenging role. Already set for U.S. distribution with "Margin Call" distributor Roadside Attractions, "All is Lost" screens at Cannes out of competition, but seems well-positioned to gain a boost from international crowds impressed by Redford for the first time in years. [Eric Kohn]

"Behind The Candelabra"
Back in 1989, Steven Soderbergh became the youngest director to ever win Cannes' Palme d'Or with his directorial debut "sex, lies and videotape." Fittingly, his alleged final film -- Liberace biopic "Behind The Candelabra" -- returns him to competition at the festival nearly 25 years later. 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. It marks the first time a film made for HBO has made it into official competition, and hopefully that suggests Soderbergh has free reign to do Liberace and Thorson's story justice. The director has claimed "Candelabra" was rejected by Hollywood studios for being "too gay," and with Pedro Almodovar's "I'm So Excited" opting out of Cannes, it should give the festival its gayest event. Even if Soderbergh doesn't add another Palme d'Or to his mantle, he seems like a safe bet for the festival's Queer Palm (which awards the best LGBT film at Cannes). [Peter Knegt]


"Blind Detective"

Hong Kong giant Johnny To's action films may not often make it to the U.S., but he remains one of the most successful action directors working today and shows no sign of slowing down. Last year alone saw the release of two new To movies, "Drug War" and "Romancing in Thin Air." At Cannes' midnight section, To will unveil his latest blockbuster, which stars Andy Lau as a cop forced to retire after an accident leaves him blind -- until he decides to chase down some bank robbers one last time. To loves trafficking in clichés and elevating them with a blend of intense visuals, comedy and poetic insights; one hopes that formula holds strong here. [Eric Kohn]

"The Bling Ring"
A24 "The Bling Ring"

"The Bling Ring"
Fourteen years after her debut film "The Virgin Suicides" premiered in Cannes, Sofia Coppola is back with her fifth, "The Bling Ring," after seeing her last, "Somewhere," sweep top honors in Venice. Inspired by actual events, the film continues a mini-trend in cinema this year: Auteurs examining contemporary female youth behaving very badly. "Ring" follows the true story of a group of fame-obsessed teenagers known as the Bling Ring who use the Internet to track celebrities' whereabouts in order to rob their homes (actual victims included Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Megan Fox). This marks new territory for Coppola and we can't wait to see how she puts her stamp on this oft-publicized tale. [Nigel M. Smith]

"Blue Ruin"
Jeremy Saulnier's debut feature "Murder Party" was a wacky dark comedy that won the top prize at Slamdance in 2007. Since then, Saulnier has served as the cinematographer for a wide range of indie sleeper hits, including Matthew Porterfield's "Putty Hill" and "Septien." For his sophomore feature, Saulnier once again returns to the comedy vein, reuniting with "Murder Party" star Macon Blair to tell the quirky adventures of a beach bum drawn to murderous revenge that he can't quite pull off. If "Murder Party" is any indication, "Blue Ruin" -- premiering at Directors Fortnight -- has the potential to bring Saulnier's uniquely off-beat storytelling to a much larger audience. One of several American films with morbid sensibilities at Fortnight this year (along with "We Are What We Are" and "Magic Magic"), "Blue Ruin" has the potential to stand out for its crowdpleasing qualities. Cannes audiences love to laugh and don't get the opportunity enough. [Eric Kohn]

"The Immigrant"
It's been five years since James Gray made good on the promise he showed with "We Own the Night" and The Yards," with the deeply felt romantic drama "Two Lovers," starring his go-to star Joaquin Phoenix. So hope for his new and most ambitious project to date to deliver the goods is very high. Given his track record and the fact this marks Phoenix's first role since scoring an Oscar nomination for his staggering turn in "The Master," signs point to "The Immigrant" being well worth the wait. In addition to Phoenix, the drama stars Marion Cotillard as a woman immigrating to the U.S. from Poland, whose sister falls ill while sailing to Ellis Island, forcing her to trade sexual favors for medicine to keep her sister alive. Phoenix plays a man who persuades her to turn tricks after arriving in New York. [Nigel M. Smith]

"Jodoworsky's Dune" and "La Danza de Realidad"
Alejandro Jodorworsky, the famed Chilean director of midnight cult hits like "El Topo," has not one but two reasons to visit Directors Fortnight this year: His "La Danza de Realidad" ("The Dance of Reality"), which draws from his memoirs of the same name, will premiere at the festival. Given the personal nature of the material, which follows Jodorworsky through his troubled childhood, it may point to a more intimate project for the octogenarian director. Even if it's a dud, though, audiences can still celebrate his mad genius with the documentary "Jodorworsky's Dune," which follows the director's ill-fated attempt to adapt the Frank Herbert sci-fi novel into a 10-hour feature scored by Pink Floyd. That project never made it to the finish line, but his ambition has finally received a well-timed tribute. It's been too long since the world appreciated this man's crazy genius. [Eric Kohn]

"Only God Forgives"
Radius "Only God Forgives"

"Only God Forgives"
Like "Drive," "Only God Forgives," Nicolas Winding Refn's second go-round with Ryan Gosling looks like an impeccably crafted and eye-popping affair, boasting its fair share of extreme violence and neon lighting.The plot: Kirstin Scott Thomas, as the menacing matriarch of a drug empire, orders her son (Gosling), a manager of an illegal Thai boxing ring, to hunt down his brother (and her son's) killer (played by Vithaya Pansringarm). Cue the bloody mayhem. Gosling seems to be in "Drive" mode: quiet, menacing and tantalizingly mysterious. But from the looks of the trailer, "Only God Forgives" seems be Thomas' show. After making a name for herself in France by appearing in a slew of acclaimed French films over the past several years, Thomas clearly had a blast tackling her highest profile English-language role in over a decade. Could she be the actress to beat in the acting race? Signs point to "oui." [Nigel M. Smith]

"Only Lovers Left Alive"
A last minute edition to the festival's competition, Jim Jarmusch's latest re-teams him with Tilda Swinton (for the third consecutive time) in a "crypto-vampire love story" (as described by Jarmusch) that also features Tom Hiddleston,  Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt and Anton Yelchin. It stars Hiddelston as Adam, a vampiric musician who reunites with his mysterious lover of several centuries Eve (Swinton). Enter Eve's wild and uncontrollable younger sister, Ava (Wasikowska), who messes up their reunion. It's a director, cast and premise that's difficult to at the very least be curious by, if not extremely excited. [Peter Knegt]

"Les Salauds"
Four years have passed since "White Material," Claire Denis' provocative thriller starring Isabelle Huppert. She's finally back with "Les Salauds" (translates to "The Bastards") starring Vincent Lindon and Chiara Mastrioani in the leads. Mastrioani stars as Sandra, a widowed mother to a troubled daughter, whose family's business is going under. To exact revenge on the businessman she deems responsible for her family's troubles, she enlists the help of her brother. Cineastes the world over called foul when Denis' latest didn't make the competition cut, instead selected for the Un Certain Regard sidebar. Still, considering that section's strong lineup (Sofia Coppola and Ari Folman's new projects are in there), she's in very good company. [Nigel M. Smith]

"Sarah Prefers to Run"
One of the very few first time filmmakers lucky enough to make their feature debut at Cannes, 25 year-old French Canadian filmmaker Chloé Robichaud is no stranger to the festival -- she's already had three short films screen there as well. But with "Sarah Prefers to Run," Robichaud is finding herself screening alongside Claire Denis and Sofia Coppola in the festival's Un Certain Regard section (which was much kinder to female filmmakers this year than it's troubling main slate, which featured only one female helmed film). "Sarah" follows the titular young woman, who wants to become a competitive runner but ends up not having enough money to go to the ideal athletic school. So she decides on a marriage of convenience after learning with marriage comes much easier access to grants and bursaries. It's a promising premise from a promising filmmaker who could end up adding another name to the expanding canon of exciting young Quebecois filmmakers. [Peter Knegt]

"Seduced and Abandoned"
At last year's Cannes Film Festival, attendees were occasionally treated to the curious pairing of filmmaker James Toback and actor Alec Baldwin working the party circuit together with cameras in tow. The results of that experiment have landed an out-of-competition slot at the festival, with Toback's latest non-fiction work screening this year. "Seduced and Abandoned" aims to capture the sweep of the festival in all its chaotic glory, using the French Riviera event to look at the global movie industry itself -- at one point including a bit in which Baldwin raises money from investors for a movie that doesn't exist: an Iraq-based love story co-starring Neve Campbell. Toback's documentary chops were most recently proven with "Tyson," a fairly static portrait; this somewhat more ambitious work should please Cannes audiences who recognize versions of the world around them in Toback's depiction. [Eric Kohn]

This article is related to: Cannes Film Festival, All Is Lost, Only Lovers Left Alive , Behind the Candelabra , The Bling Ring, The Immigrant, Cannes Film Festival