"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]
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]
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]