Every week, IndieWire asks a select handful of film and TV critics two questions and publishes the results on Monday. (The answer to the second, “What is the best film in theaters right now?”, can be found at the end of this post.)
The lineup for Cannes 2017 has finally been announced, and it’s a doozy. From the inevitable return of Michael Haneke to the shocking inclusion of television (albeit television from celebrated Cannes alumni David Lynch and Jane Campion), the 70th edition of the world’s most prestigious film festival promises to have something for everyone.
We asked our panel of critics to name the Cannes premiere they’re most excited to see, and their answers were unsurprisingly all over the map.
April Wolfe (@awolfeful), LA Weekly
Lynne Ramsay’s “You Were Never Really Here.”
My stomach knots are finally unraveling knowing that Ramsay’s about to unleash another film to finally follow up her terrifying 2011 masterpiece “We Need to Talk About Kevin.” I think Hollywood gave her a bad rap, labeling her as the bitchy woman when she exited “Jane Got a Gun” (which also apparently made her uninsurable on set) — a total double standard in an industry with quite a few toxic, unchecked male directors still making movies.
Anyway, aside from the prolonged lead up to a new film, I’m so looking forward to another Ramsay literary adaptation, because very few directors have her ability to capture the tone and feeling of literature on screen. And dear god, she can make even the most emotionally horrifying stories funny and strange (see: John C. Reilly in “Kevin”), so knowing that this film is going to tackle the very real epidemic of sex trafficking makes me giddy because it’ll open up a conversation on a worthy topic while retaining its entertainment value: A win-win!
Richard Brody (@tnyfrontrow), The New Yorker
The Cannes Competition lineup has grown musty and conservative; it has about half a dozen bold and original filmmakers and lots of art-house moderates applying the anonymous international style to their brand of content and, even more, of attitude. On the other hand, I never write off a filmmaker, and, since I haven’t of course seen any of these films, I’m hoping for some pleasant surprises. The list did offer at least one unpleasant surprise, the absence of Bruno Dumont’s new film, “Jeannette,” a musical about Joan of Arc.
In any case, some of the best living filmmakers are represented in the main-slate selections, including the Safdie brothers, Sofia Coppola, and Hong Sang-soo; but there’s one filmmaker of an overarching historic greatness who’s got a film in the festival this year, even if not in competition — Claude Lanzmann, whose film, “Napalm,” is said to be about North Korea. Those who’ve read Lanzmann’s autobiography, “The Patagonian Hare,” know what a distinctive and surprising role that country plays in Lanzmann’s life; nonetheless, I expect that the film will be…not at all what I expect, which is one of the reasons I’m so impatient to see it.
Jordan Hoffman @JHoffman, The Guardian/Vanity Fair
“Good Time.” Root root root for the home team. Go, Josh and Benny, Go!
Mallory Andrews (@mallory_andrews), cléo
Unless there’s a secret Kristen Stewart/Olivier Assayas project getting ready to drop, I’ve been on board with Sofia Coppola’s gothic western “The Beguiled” since the trailer premiered months ago. But the movie I’m most curious about, having not seen a single frame, is Todd Haynes’ “Wonderstruck.” Not only for the promise of Haynes reuniting with Julianne Moore (“Safe” is still an all-time masterpiece), but also to see him collaborate with Michelle Williams for the first time. Williams has become one of my favourite actresses working today, and pairing her with a director whose films I’ve consistently loved is extremely exciting. I’m ready to be emotionally overwhelmed by meaningful Williams glances.
Jude Dry (@jdry), IndieWire
How, indeed, to single out only one? It feels like the entire world is excited about “Twin Peaks,” and rightfully so. As a John Cameron Mitchell devotee, I am cautiously optimistic about “How to Talk to Girls at Parties.” The odd couple collaboration between Lynne Ramsey and Jonathan Ames is too unexpected not to be amazing.
But I am certain that Kiarostami’s final film, “24 Frames,” will knock me off my feet, because his films always do. It is impossible to watch a Kiarostami film without being completely transported. The man can turn a simple car ride or series of voicemails into some of the most truthful and heartbreaking moments I have ever witnessed onscreen. Small, human moments evoke a lifetime of experiences in his film; uniquely specific and always universal.
Max Weiss (@maxthegirl), Baltimore magazine
Tough question! This lineup is so inspiring I would actually fly United to get to Cannes.
That being said, a new Sofia Coppola film is treated like a national holiday in my house, so it’s got to be “The Beguiled.”
Charles Bramesco (@intothecrevasse), Freelance for the Guardian, Nylon, Vulture
Attending the Cannes Film Festival for the first time in 2016 was the coolest thing I did last year. I saw lots of phenomenal movies, drank rosé on the beach, and made eye contact with Arnaud Desplechin. (Just as erotic as it sounds.) I am not able to return this year, which is fine and I’m not even upset about it. It’s like, who even cares? Not me. I will have a lot of fun here in America attending the theatrical release of — let me take a look at May’s slated releases — “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul.” Jesus Christ…
There’s lots in the main Competition for me to be salty about. At least “Okja” and “The Beguiled” have summer release dates, the wait for those won’t be too interminable, and A24 just announced a November run for “Killing of a Sacred Deer.” I’m plenty excited for “Loveless,” which I understand to be Russian master Andrey Zvyaginstev’s “Across the Universe”-style My Bloody Valentine jukebox musical.
But it’s the nebulous, far-off ones I ache for the most; I can’t stand to wait a year to watch the Super Safdie Bros. level up with “Good Time” or Lynne Ramsay make her long-awaited return with “You Were Never Really Here.”
Kyle Turner (@TyleKurner), Freelance for Brooklyn Magazine, Paste Magazine
At my day job, I recently got into an argument, or if we’re being generous, a debate, about Todd Haynes. My coworker said Haynes was “hacky,” making pale remakes of better films like “Brief Encounter” and “All That Heaven Allows.” I went off. Haynes’ reappropriation of stories mired (intentionally or otherwise) in heterosexuality and queering of them has always been of interest to me, as has his semoiticians’ eye for images and deep empathy for his queer and/or female characters. So, even though I won’t be at Cannes, I’ll be waiting eagerly for Haynes’ “Wonderstruck.”
Christopher Campbell (@thefilmcynic), Nonfics and Film School Rejects
The festival’s tastes in documentary, when it shows at all, typically bores me, but this year’s program includes a couple nonfiction titles I’m looking forward to. One is Eugene Jarecki’s “Promised Land,” not because I have any interest in Elvis Presley but because I’m a fan of the filmmaker’s past work. More than that, I am very intrigued by Claude Lanzmann’s “Napalm,” a rare doc from him not involving footage originally shot for “Shoah.” This one is focused on North Korea, with which he has some history, some of it romantic, based on parts of his 2013 memoir “The Patagonian Hare.”
Kristy Puchko (@KristyPuchko), Nerdist/Pajiba/CBR
I’m most excited to see John Cameron Mitchell’s “How To Talk To Girls At Parties.” There’s a slew of titles I’m confident will have critics orgasmic (Todd Haynes’s “Wonderstruck,” Yorgos Lanthimos’s “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” Lynne Ramsay’s “You Were Never Really Here”), and some I’m sure i’ll be gaga over when I eventually get to see them (Bong-Joon Ho’s “Okja”).
But this one has an intoxicating combination of elements that spikes my curiosity to wonder how and if they can come together. Based on the Neil Gaiman short story of the same name, it’s a simple tale of a boy going to a party, and meeting a girl who is literally other-wordly, in that she’s an alien. It’s a twee premise that could so easily be sickly so or drowned in nostalgia, but Mitchell’s past work has me confident this will be something elegant, weird, and wondrous. He went from the ferocious and fun rock n’ roll-fueled romp “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” to the graphic and tender “Shortbus,” to the elegiac and gutting “Rabbit Hole.” It’s incredible these three very different films all came from one auteur, each proving how impossible Mitchell’s aesthetic is to pin down. It’s this mystique that entices me to see what he’ll do with a sci-fi infused coming of age story.
That “How To Talk To Girls At Parties” also boasts appearances from Ruth Wilson, Elle Fanning, and Nicole Kidman doesn’t hurt.
Manuela Lazic (@ManiLazic), Freelance for Little White Lies, The Film Stage
While the exceptionally high level of last year’s line-up may never be reached again in my lifetime or ever, I am still excited for the 2017 selections. The festival will start strong with “Ismael’s Ghosts,” the new film from personal favourite Arnaud Desplechin. Knowing his previous work and the synopsis – a director about to start on a new project sees his life spiralling out of control when a former lover returns — I expect metaphorical phantoms from the past making for real-life conflicts. However, with this title and after “Personal Shopper” and “A Ghost Story,” I can’t help but wish for supernatural weirdness, which would be welcome too.
Nicole Kidman’s recent return to form reached an incredible apotheosis with her performance in Jean-Marc Vallée’s “Big Little Lies,” but the actress has more than one card up her sleeve. With four projects to premiere at the festival, I hope she will finally get the long-overdue respect she deserves, especially since it appears that each will allow her to showcase her range. I haven’t yet watched the first season of “Top of the Lake” but the prospect of Kidman appearing in season 2 of another supposedly good TV show is exciting. Sofia Coppola’s “The Beguiled” is a western-drama of the kind Kidman is more known for, while Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” if at all similar to the director’s previous film “The Lobster,” promises weirdness aplenty. Meanwhile, “How to Talk to Girls at Parties” sees her playing some kind of visitor from outer space, which only makes sense: with her impressive yet slim stature, her sensibility and illustrious and tumultuous career/life, Kidman is my favourite alien.
Meanwhile, another supernatural event is my being excited for a Noah Baumbach film. The director has tested my patience relentlessly for the past few years, but I’m surprised to find myself looking forward to his last effort, “The Meyerowitz Stories.” The family-reunion synopsis seems simple enough to not be too annoyingly convoluted, but what truly intrigues me is the stellar and bizarre cast the director has somehow managed to assemble around his old pal Ben Stiller. Adam Sandler may not be cinema’s best ally, his acting can still bring interesting results when put to use with the brilliance of a Paul Thomas Anderson in “Punch-Drunk Love.” And what could possibly happen if you brushed him up against Method-man Dustin Hoffman? And what if you gave Hoffman a massive beard and a beautiful dog? Add in British screen queen Emma Thompson as a hippy, what do you get? Recipe for disaster or explosive mix of wildly different talents, Baumbach’s new project has me intrigued.
David Ehrlich (@davidehrlich), IndieWire
The correct answer is “The Beguiled.” I think. Or “Wonderstruck?” “Wonderstruck!” For some reason, I keep forgetting that Todd Haynes has a new movie in the can — I think it’s hard for me to wrap my head around the idea of someone not just walking off into the sunset after “Carol.” But yeah, the right answer is definitely “Top of the Peaks.” I mean “Happy End.” …But no, it’s really “The Beguiled.” A new Sofia Coppola joint is the highlight of any festival, regardless as to what else might be playing.
Vikram Murthi (@fauxbeatpoet), Freelance for RogerEbert.Com, The AV Club, Vulture
Answer One: For Competition titles, I’m probably most excited for Lynne Ramsay’s “You Were Never Really Here,” because I’m curious to see Ramsay’s approach to a Jonathan Ames story, or Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories,” because I have a mind and body that finds his work immensely pleasurable.
As for Out of Competition titles that aren’t Lynch-directed “Twin Peaks” episodes, I’d love to see Arnaud Desplechin’s new film “Ismael’s Ghosts” because every one of Desplechin’s films so far has been at the very least intriguing to me.