Cannes 2016 Preview

personal shopper

It’s time yet again, as we do in this blog, to take a little preview to the movies that will be playing In Competition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Toni Erdmann
(Directed by Maren Ade, Germany)
The only German film in competition, but one of three films in competition directed by women (yay!). The IMDb synopsis describe it as a drama about a “father reconnecting with his adult daughter”. I’ve only ever heard magnificent things about Ade’s Everyone Elseso this might be the perfect opportunity to catch up with it.

(Directed by Pedro Almodovar, Spain)
I already wrote a little bit about Almodovar’s latest in my “2016 Preview,” and it has actually already been released in the director’s native Spain. A lot of reviews describe this as Almodovar’s most austere and low-key movie. A lot of Spanish reviewers didn’t like it, but then again, the Spanish press tends to be harsh on Almodovar (partly because he is such a big figure in the Spanish media). Even then, an Almodovar movie is an Almodovar movie, and there’s no way I’m not going to be excited to see it.

American Honey
(Directed by Andrea Arnold, United Kingdom)
Arnold, best known for her realistic portrayals of the British working class, makes her American debut with a road trip movie (what could be more American?). Newcomer Sasha Lane stars as a teenager who travels the Midwest as part of a magazine salescrew. Notable infamous person Shia LaBeouf also stars.

Personal Shopper
(directed by Olivier Assayas, France)
And speaking of infamous people… Kristen Stewart reteams with Olivier Assayas, the man who directed her in Clouds of Sils Mariathe movie for which she became -in a quintessentially French turn of events- the first American actor to win a Cesar Award (a.k.a. the French Oscars). I could easily see her win this year’s Best Actress award.

The Unknown Girl
(directed by Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, Belgium)
It wouldn’t be Cannes without a Dardenne Bros. movie in competition, now would it? They’ve won the Palme D’Or twice already, but if anyone is going to win three times it’s probably them. With The Unknown Girl, they continue their trend of working with famous French actresses. Now, Adéle Haenel isn’t a household name in America, but I’m led to believe she’s a big deal in France, having won Cesars two years in a row.

It’s Only the End of the World
(directed by Xavier Dolan, Canada)
Canada’s most prolific auteur, and notable infamous person, returns to Cannes Competition after being not-exactly-thrilled to have to share his Jury Award for Mommy with Jean-Luc Godard. He brings some heavy artillery with him in the form of Marion Cotillard and Lea Seydoux.

Slack Bay
(directed by Bruno Dumont, France)
I haven’t seen any of Dumont’s previous movies, but this one stars Juliette Binoche, arguably the greatest working actress, so that’s good.

From the Land of the Moon
(directed by Nicole Garcia, France)
The third Competition film directed by a woman, and the second to star Marion Cotillard, who is notable for having had a movie at Cannes the past four years and still not having won the Best Actress award. This is based on a Milena Agus novel.

Staying Vertical
(directed by Alain Guiraudie, France)
Don’t know anything about this movie except that it’s French. Guiraudie made Stranger by the Lakewhich was a big critical hit a couple years ago, so there’s that.

(directed by Jim Jarmusch, USA)
I feel like there is a little bit of “when is Jim Jamusch going to win the Palme?” sentiment going around this year. That doesn’t really mean anything, but there is no denying Jarmusch is entering legendary master status at this point in his career. This movie, despite being set in New Jersey, is not about Paterson native Fetty Wap, but about a bus driver who is also a poet. The leads are Golshifteh Farahani (who was so great in About Elly) and Adam Driver (who is so great in everything)

(directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho, Brazil)
I don’t know much about this Brizilian production, except that it’s the only Latin American film in competition in a year where I was expecting at least three entries. Notable absences include Amat Escalante’s follow-up to his Director Award-winning HeliPablo Larraín’s Nerudaand Lucrecia Martel’s Zamaone of my most anticipated movies of the year. Anyway, I’ve heard nothing but good things about Mendonça Filho’s previous film Neighboring Sounds, so I’m looking forward to this one.

I, Daniel Blake
(directed by Ken Loach, United Kingdom)
Seems like every time Ken Loach makes a new movie, he premieres it at the Cannes Film Festival. He’s an incredibly prolific director, and yet so few of his films garner any attention beyond the festival. I haven’t seen any of them, so who am I to judge.

(directed by Brillante Mendoza, Philippines)
Again, I have very little -practically none- information about this film, except that the director’s Kinatay won him the Best Director award back in 2009.

(directed by Cristian Mungiu, Romania)
No synopsis for this one, the latest film by Mungiu, the only of the Romanian new wave directors to have won the Palme D’Or (back in ’07 with 4 Months, 3 Week, and 2 Days). If my information is correct, this project was once called Family Pictures, which may or may not give us an idea of what the story might be about? Not really… Anyway, if you’re at all familiar with Romanian cinema, you know what to expect (long static takes and internal turmoil)

(directed by Jeff Nichols, USA)
I just watched Nichols’s Midnight Specialwhich is currently in theaters, and was hugely disappointed by what turned out to be a really dull movie. Despite my dislike for the movie, I can’t deny Nichols is a very talented man, and I’m very optimistic about this movie, which chronicles the case of an interracial couple sentenced to prison in 1950s Virginia. Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, and Nichols regular Michael Shannon star.

The Handmaiden
(directed by Park Chan-wook, South Korea)
I don’t know how you feel about Park’s American debut Stokerbut I really dug it. I am very excited for The Handmaiden, which is being promoted as a modernized Korean version of the novel Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. It also stars Min-hee Kim, who was fantastic in Right Now, Wrong Then (one of the many movies I saw at NYFF). 

The Last Face
(directed by Sean Penn, USA)
The less I have to think, hear, or write about Sean Penn the better. This is set in Africa amidst a political/social revolution, so I expect it to be unbearably pandering and boring. At least it stars Charlize Theron.

Sierra Nevada
(directed by Cristi Puiu, Romania)
Ok, so I just described Romanian cinema as full of long static shots and internal turmoil. I was kind of lying. Because there is one thing that you usually get in New Wave Romanian cinema that you don’t get from Cristian Mungiu, and that is extremely dry humor. I don’t know if Sierra Nevada is a comedy, but why lose hope?

(directed by Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands)
Young people -like me- might not know Paul Verhoeven is an interesting filmmaker. It took me a long time to realize how brilliant Robocop and Starship Troopers really are. His latest movie -which is being positioned as a bit of a comeback- is a thriller starring  the great Isabelle Huppert.

The Neon Demon
(directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, Denmark)
I’m one of those people who loved Drive and didn’t care for Only God Forgives (although I’m really considering giving it a second chance). So yeah, this guy can be an incredibly cruel director, but a cannibal movie starring Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Christina Hendricks, and Keanu Reeves? How could not be excited for that?