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

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

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
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

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”
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”
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]

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