For all of the banter that this year’s Festival de Cannes was going to be a lackluster one, it was not at all difficult to come up with a dozen new films to spotlight as “Must sees” for in the coming year, in fact there are several bonus titles as well.
Cannes Artistic Director Thierry Fremaux commented that with the absence of such high profile titles as “The Tree of Life” by Terrance Malick (the film was reportedly not complete in time for the festival), 2011 looked to be a banner year. But, it can be argued that this year’s crop of a dozen must sees are on par with last year’s list.
Still, there was an absence of a focus of extreme curiosity title such as Lars Von Trier’s “Antichrist,” which produced about as much talk ahead of its world premiere in Cannes last year as afterward. A competition director exclaiming, “I’m the best director in the world” – even if taken out of context – is bound to create headlines and interest (that poster was quite something too!)
But, wrapping up our 2010 coverage, indieWIRE considered this year’s lineup and picked out 12 new films that we feel will continue to make headlines, join the awards race later in the year and – for those not yet picked up – find U.S. distribution.
One caveat to keep in mind. There were other titles that played this year’s Cannes and had their world premieres elsewhere, so they’re not included in this list. Derek Cianfrance’s “Blue Valentine” (Sundance 2010) still ranks in the pinnacle of new fest offerings – so far – and there were a few others as well.
Below are the 12 Must Sees from Cannes 2010 with several more that are certainly worth a trip to a festival (or hopefully a full release) near you.
“Another Year“, directed by Mike Leigh:
Though it was shunned on awards night, the chatter among the English speakers I came into contact with almost universally gave Mike Leigh’s latest their thumbs up. Told through the eyes of a very well adjusted, content and gracefully aging couple, the film looks at the happy duo’s cadre of single crazies who drink a bit too much and are lonely – basically they’re sort of lovable messes. So, they escape their unhappy lives and take solace in the happiness of their successfully coupled friends. Lesley Manville, a spirited and uber friendly single woman plays a splendid downtrodden woman who, despite professing to see the glass as ‘half full,’ has been dealt an unhappy hand. A description really doesn’t do the film justice, but it should be no surprise that “Another Year” is top notch. Mike Leigh has received Oscar nominations for four of his films in the past 13 years. Not bad… We weren’t too shocked “Another Year” was picked up by Sony Classics during Cannes. So for all those cinemagoers who jones for a story-driven, well-directed film with top-notch acting – then look out for this one.
“Biutiful“, directed by Alejandro Gonzales Innaritu:
This one was already anticipated going in, so no shock that it makes a list like this. But, probably like none other, this drama starring Javier Bardem, divided audiences this year in Cannes. So… a fantastic reason to check it out. indieWIRE didn’t give “Biutiful” the best of review, saying that it “maintains a patient approach that drags when it should strengthen the material,” but the competition feature, directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, certainly had its big fans. One popular blogger called indieWIRE and our colleague “elitist know-it-alls” for failing to acknowledge the film’s attributes, and still other journalist-types lamented iW’s reactions at a party. Basically we were cornered. A debate ensued, and that should make it worth a view in and of itself. Not to mention, Bardem shared a Best Actor award in Cannes for his performance – “Biutiful!”
“Carlos“, directed by Olivier Assayas:
French director Olivier Assayas’ latest is quite the epic. One fine Cannes afternoon, journalists crowded in to see the five-hour film about Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, a towering figure in the international terrorism scene of the ’70s and ’80s. Even before the festival started, word leaked out that a select number of American critics were given an exclusive peek. And it never seemed to disappoint broadly speaking. IFC Films, which also brought the recent revolutionary epic, “Che,” to the U.S., will release the film in full-length and shortened versions (five hours is a long time after all), but for those who want to see the film in full, keep your ear to the ground and make sure to catch a fall festival screening before its U.S. release. Many said ahead of the awards ceremony that had the film screened in competition, it would have won. Yet, some in the French film biz were leary of having a film that was shown on French television taking the Palme d’Or.
“The Certified Copy (Copie Conforme)“, directed by Abbas Kiarostami:
Iran’s loss is Europe’s gain. Celebrated Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami went to Tuscany for his latest. The leading director made a plea for his jailed fellow filmmaker back home in Iran (who was freed after a long stay immediately following the festival). But, back to “Certified Copy” and the tranquility of Tuscany – well, Kiarostami made a subtle and beautiful film. Told in French and English (mixed in with some Italian) the film stars French actress Juliette Binoche and William Shimell in a story about one man and one woman – he is a British author and she is an art gallery owner. It’s best not to give it away, but the film is lovely and received good buzz at the festival. One loud mouth attempted a very loud “Booo!” in the middle of the afternoon press screening, but there were no takers. And in the end, Binoche received the prize for Best Actress at the fest (By the way, Binoche was also the star of this year’s official Festival de Cannes poster).
“Of Gods and Men” (Des Hommes et des Dieu)“, directed by Xavier Beauvois:
There are many top winners at this year’s Festival de Cannes in which U.S. distribution has – so far – eluded them (though we expect and hope that not to be the case in the coming months), though this defied all that. French director Xavier Beauvois’ latest won this year’s second prize, The Grand Prix, and it was picked up by Sony Pictures Classics. Can a New York Film Festival premiere be in the cards? The film centers on eight Christian monks who live in harmony with their Muslim brothers despite the deteriorating situation around them.
“Film Socialisme“, directed by Jean-Luc Godard:
The festival and its attendees alike anticipated this one from the lauded auteur (and central figure of the French New Wave) Jean-Luc Godard. And shockingly – although completely not so – he decided at the last moment not to show up. Hopes were dashed and there was a collective groan heard across the Croisette. Godard pleaded an ailment “of the Greek sort” to French newspapers for his sudden conspicuous absence, which would have been his first in almost a decade. (This left many to speculate on what “the Greek” situation was. Was he having a Euro crisis? Or was he generally ill?) At any rate, the buzz rivaled only the initial chatter about the film itself. A pair of parrots opens “Film Socialisme” (somebody asked a person who viewed the film if they had said anything – the answer is ‘no’) and continues with images of a Mediterranean cruise, children in court demanding the explanation of “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite,” and there are visits to the famed sites of Egypt, Odessa, Naples, Barcelona and more. Even before the film was scheduled to screen, people were saying, “you must see a Godard in Cannes while you can…” Speculation is that this might be his last. If so, Godard certainly got the last word.
“Heartbeats” (Les Amours Imaginaires), directed by Xavier Dolan:
Young Quebecois director Xavier Dolan made a splash with his first film, “I Killed My Mother” in the Directors Fortnight section last year, sweeping four awards. This year, the 21 year old returned with his second film in the Un Certain Regard sidebar, winning the best prize of all – distribution. The film was picked up by IFC Films during the fest and it was high on many lists among people who’ve had the pleasure Stateside to see his original film. Is this the dawn of a long career from an astounding talent? He may very well be a budding favorite for the Cannes hierarchy. Thierry Fremaux was spotted giving Dolan a warm double-cheek kiss at a party. So, who knows, but Dolan – who also stars in the film – did by most measures a good job in his sophomore effort, a love triangle he penned while on a train to the Toronto International Film Festival from his hometown of Montreal. The eye candy is great and there is every sense of style with odes to Wong Kar-wai and Pedro Almodovar. So check this out… The question is, will his first or the second film make its way onto U.S. screens first?
“Inside Job“, directed by Charles Ferguson:
Charles Ferguson made a documentary splash with his “No End In Sight,” which received an Oscar nomination. His latest, which debuted last week in Cannes with an introduction from the festival’s Artistic Director, Thierry Fremeaux, impressed as well. Not exactly a great escape from “the real world,” the film is nevertheless an entertaining if shocking and sobering look at the financial meltdown of 2008. Through a series of interviews from insiders, Ferguson weaves together the daunting complexity of the financial labyrinth and explains how the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression was a bank heist that didn’t have to happen. Anyone with a mortgage, a bank account, credit card bill – or any bill – should see this one! And it even manages a few laughs – imagine that! Sony Classics will bring this top doc to theaters later this year.
“Kaboom“, directed by Gregg Araki:
And what’s wrong with seeing some hotties romp around in sexual escapades of various sorts – and in many combinations? Not for the faint of heart, Gregg Araki’s latest is sort of a “Doom Generation” with a Boom! Set in a Southern California college, omni-sexual Smith hangs out with his best friend, Stella in many post-coital cuddle fests. Ah, college life for the young, good looking and non-prudish. The initial fra la la of the film, however, gives way to a more sinister plot when masked beings come calling and Smith (Thomas Dekker) finds himself confronted by a crazy cult, a mysterious father and the future of the world. “Kaboom” won the inaugural “Queer Palm” at this year’s Cannes – and the film will make its way Stateside via IFC Films. Kaboom!
“Rubber“, directed by Quentin Dupieux:
Surreal, wacky, unnatural, clever and a helluva-lot-of-fun to watch. This simple story made some great traction in Cannes via this year’s Critics Week section. Set in the California desert, an unloved and long ignored tire down on its luck comes alive to reap its desire for adventure and a quest to be near a pretty face. The killer tire mysteriously spots a hot young thing driving along and uses its powers of the invented wheel to speed along through the arid earth. It is a hot wheel with the hots and the desert comes alive with gawking onlookers (I mean, who wouldn’t?). Let’s face it, chicks and wheels go hand-in-hand. Reviewing “Rubber” in Cannes for iW, Eric Kohn commented, “The more overly ambitious aspects of the movie are also the parts that make it fundamentally hilarious. The final shot serves as a serious indictment of the Hollywood machine.” The film is en route to a theater Stateside via Magnolia Pictures’ genre arm, Magnet.
“Tournee” (On Tour), directed by Mathieu Amalric:
The New Burlesque took center stage this year in Cannes with this competition entry screening on the first day of the festival in the shadow of official opener, “Robin Hood,” With sultry names: Mimi Le Meaux, Kitten on the Keys, Dirty Martini, Julie Atlas Muz, Evie Lovelle and even Rocky Roulette (he does his striptease on a pogo stick), Amalric plays Parisian television producer, Joachim, who goes to America and then returns to France with his team of New Burlesque performers who have dreams of touring France. The sparkling group travel from town to town amidst their colorful extravaganza of performance and hedonism. Despite their cash flow problems and uninspiring string of hotels, the shows are a hit with both men and women. But, their wish to take Paris by storm is interrupted when Joachim is betrayed by an old friend and loses the theater. Amalric said that he was grateful the jury remembered his film after so many days and films had passed. He received this year’s Best Director prize.
“Loong Boonmee Raleuk Chaat” (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives), directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul:
Some praised it, and then pretty much everyone else indieWIRE heard from gave positive word on this one. And, it managed to impress the most important group of people at this year’s Festival de Cannes, with this year’s jury, headed by Tim Burton, awarding it the Palme d’Or. For many Westerners, Apichatpong Weerasethakul became the most unpronounceable famous name after his big win and the Thai director said he hoped his film will inspire young people to invent new methods of expression for the moving image. The film revolves around Uncle Boonmee who is suffering from kidney failure and has decided to spend his final days surrounded by loved ones in the countryside. The ghost of his deceased wife shows up to care for him and his long lost son returns in a non-human form. Looking to come to terms with his illness, Boonmee begins a trek through the jungle with is family to a mysterious hilltop cave – the birthplace of his first life. In his review for indieWIRE, Eric Kohn commented about Weerasethakul’s latest, “While his earlier features often felt primarily energizing as intellectual exercises rather than creative pursuits, his latest work takes the identical approach into the delightful realm of fantasy.”
And Five more to keep on the radar:
“Shit Year,” directed by Cam Archer
“Sound of Noise,” directed by Ola Simonsson & Johannes Stjärne Nilsson
“Two Gates Of Sleep,” directed by Alistair Banks Griffin
“Armadillo,” directed by Janus Metz
“Tender Son: The Frankenstein Project,” directed by Kornél Mondruczó