“With his first martial arts film, Hou Hsiao-Hsien‘s The Assassin will rate as the # 1 attraction of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival,” proclaims Hollywood Reporter critic Todd McCarthy.   He admits, however, to “lingering apprehensions…because Hou’s measured pacing and careful style would seem to be the antithesis of what is normally called for in what is broadly known as action cinema; it’s kind of like Terrence Malick undertaking a Michael Bay project. It’s very difficult to imagine what this film is going to be like, which is reason alone for genuine curiosity.”

To which I can only add there’s nothing like strongly suspecting that a certain film is going to try your patience if not make you feel completely miserable and yet knowing you’re required to sit through it and give it your full attention and commitment, etc.

McCarthy adds that “advance reports suggest that Denis Villeneuve‘s Sicario will be quite strong. [And] the fact that Woody Allen‘s Irrational Man is being described as one of his ‘dark’ films in the vein of Match Point has given me hope. [And] I’m extremely keen to see Todd HaynesCarol, based on Patricia Highsmith‘s captivating second novel, ‘The Price of Salt’, in which Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara seem ideally cast.”

More and more there seems to be this view among U.S. distributors that Cannes is a place you go to possibly get beaten up and written off halfway into the year, or a festival that delivers passionate acclaim for worthy films except that the praise is difficult to sustain or reignite between Cannes and whenever the film is going to be open. Everyone seems to be saying “let’s wait for the fall” but HE’s Oscar Balloon has over a minimum of 37 fall/holiday films that look like they have serious goods. Nearly 40 high-calibre films opening within less than four months all but guarantees a high casualty rate.

I too am lamenting the unfortunate absence (due to being snubbed or “not yet finished”) of Stephen FrearsIcon, Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise, Jeff NicholsMidnight Special and Scott Cooper‘s Black Mass. I wasn’t really expecting a Cannes screening of Angelina Jolie‘s By The Sea, from which I’m starting to sense faint insect antennae vibrations, but the intrigue levels would have been high.