From what I’m hearing, the only guaranteed solid-crack, down-on-your-knees home run at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival (5.13 to 5.24) will be George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road, which will screen on Thursday, 5.14, in an out-of-competition slot. I’ve heard second-hand from a guy who knows a guy who’s worked on the sound effects (or something like that) that this all-new chronicle of the adventures of Max Rockatansky is total wowser. At the very least it’s generating a lot more excitement than the rest of the presumed Cannes slate combined, or at least the one that’s been spitballed by Variety staffers.
Like last year’s Leviathan or Wild Tales, the ideal Cannes film is, of course, either a triple or a homer — a film that will ripple and resonate all through the summer, get a second bounce from Venice, Telluride and Toronto and keep running all the way to the finish line. A film that brings you to your feet, sends you out on a high, makes you happy to be a film worshipper. But aside from Fury Road I’m not sensing any serious power-hitters this year. Most of the films being speculated about by Variety sound to me like doubles and line-drive singles at best, and a few sound like instant dismissals (i.e., Naomi Kawase‘s Sweet Red Bean Paste).
I’m not “bummed” by this likely slate, but I do feel a tiny bit deflated. I read the Variety piece and went “really?…that’s it?” The air is hissing out of my Cannes balloon as we speak. 2015 is looking like one of the strongest award-calibre years in a long time, and for timing reasons none of the serious hotties will screen in Cannes. What happened to Scott Cooper‘s Black Mass? Or Angelina Jolie‘s By The Sea? And what happened to my idea of Thomas McCarthy‘s Spotlight debuting on the Croisette? Phffft.
The Variety piece says Sarah Garvon‘s Suffragette is “not yet ready” to be shown in Cannes? Oh, really? It was shot in the early winter of 2014 and has been in post for about a year. It’s probably being saved for Telluride/Toronto.
For comparison’s sake here’s Todd McCarthy’s Cannes projection piece, which ran three weeks ago.
HE’s Instant, Possibly Intemperate Gut Reactions to Projected Cannes Pics That I’m Feeling Any Kind of Reaction To:
(1) Todd Haynes‘ Carol — a chilly 1950s Highsmith adaptation focusing on lezzy love story between Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara…fine;
(2) Pete Docter and Ronalda Del Carmen‘s Inside Out — Despite the near-certainty that it’ll be quite clever and well-written and emotionally affecting, I despise animation almost as much as Asian action cinema…nope;
(3) Woody Allen‘s Irrational Man — Always down with any Woody, and the basic plot — a 40ish college professor (Joaquin Phoenix) having it off with one of his students (Emma Stone) — is sure to reactivate discussions about Allen’s personal history, including a recently highlighted episode recounted by Manhattan costar Mariel Hemingway in her about to be published tell-all, “Out Came The Sun“;
(4) Mark Osborne‘s The Little Prince — Another animated feature is bad enough, but the words “little” and “prince’ are permanent no-no’s in the HE universe;
(5) Jeff Nichols‘ Midnight Special — An alleged resuscitation of the spirit of ’80s John Carpenter with Adam Driver, Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst, Joel Edgerton…fine but don’t expect too much;
(6) Gus Van Sant‘s The Sea of Trees — Suicide contemplation in Japan in a forest that’s dedicated to guys disemboweling themselves? Brrrnnngggg! I’ve heard there’s a lot more to this than just the downer premise, but is it okay if I watch with a show-me attitude all the same?’
(7) Denis Villeneuve‘s Sicario — Mexican drug-trade drama with Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin and Jon Bernthal — I don’t trust Villeneuve as a rule, much less a film that Lionsgate is going to release in September, but the subject matter has a built-in throttle;
(8) Natalie Portman‘s A Tale of Love and Darkness — Dramatization of true story of Israeli writer Amos Oz growing up in Jerusalem during the 1940s and ’50s…okay, maybe but clearly not a triple, especially with that overbearing title;
(9) Davis Guggenheim‘s Untitled Malala Yousafzai Project — Portrait of the Pakistani student activist who survived a Taliban attack and became the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in history…fine;
(10) Ben Wheatley‘s High-Rise — An adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s 1975 novel, feels dicey…low expectations;
(11) Stephen Frears’ Icon — Lance Armstrong drama reportedly is set to play noncompetitively, which tells you something — Ben Foster, Chris Dowd, etc.
(12) Terence Davies‘ Sunset Song — Sorry but Davies has been put on too high a pedestal by the elite Cannes mafia, and knowing this has, I suspect, sired a voice inside Davies saying “just do what you do, Terence …they’re with you no matter what…slow-pace and underlight your scenes all you want…no matter what you do your Cannes worshippers will drop to their knees.” A sixth sense is telling me to hold my horses and not expect too much;
(13) Pablo Trapero‘s The Clan — A truth-based tale of the notorious Clan Puccio, a wealthy Buenos Aires family responsible for a string of horrific kidnappings and murders in the 1980s”…fine.
Limited interest, maybe, who knows?, “I guess I have to see this”, guarded expectations: Paolo Sorrentino‘s Youth, Gaspar Noe‘s Love, Jacquues Audiard‘s Erran, Elie Wajeman‘s Les Anarchistes, Arnaud Desplechin‘s Nos arcadies, Joachim Lafosse‘s The White Knights, Guillaume Nicloux‘s Valley of Love, Barbet Schroeder’s Amnesia, Yorgos Lanthimos‘ The Lobster (one of the worst titles of any Cannes film ever), Joachim Trier‘s Louder Than Bombs.
Special favorings for trio of Romanian films that may be part of the Cannes slate: Radu Muntean’s One Floor Below, Corneliu Porumboiu’s The Treasure, and Florin Serban’s Box.