Thursday, April 19, 2012

CANNES 2012: Lineup announcement scales down

Is anybody else severely interested in how US-centric this year's Cannes lineup is? I say "severe" as an deplorable statement, since I'm usually quite captivated with the Cannes lineup when it goes for films that haven't been even close to my radar. As your knowledge of the world grows, surprises do seem to dwindle. That's not to say I'm completely down on the Cannes lineup this year, and in fact, I'm quite pumped for many of the films brought forth. Any year we get the latest from Jacques Audiard, Michael Haneke, David Cronenberg, Andrew Dominik, and Abbas Kiarostami is an exceptional year on those bases alone.

"Rust and Bone", "Cosmopolis", and "Like Someone in Love" have already gotten the ball rolling with trailers up for the Audiard, Cronenberg, and Kiarostami films, respectively. If you were to ask me which film I'm most interested to see, it's got to be Haneke's "Amour". Such a title to pair up with that guy is going to arouse suspicion, but mostly just arouse. Beyond that, there's Walter Salles' "On the Road", which I must honestly say I have little interest in. Kristen Stewart is an unbearable actress, and I try to avoid seeing anything with her wandering across the screen with an absolutely clueless expression on her face.

Wes Anderson's opening night film, "Moonrise Kingdom", is also entering the competition, which hasn't happened in a while, and mostly for good reason. Films like "Robin Hood" and "Indiana Jones" don't exactly scream Cannes material. More than anything, this year's Cannes fest feels a lot less monumental than last year, when "Melancholia" and "The Tree of Life" were the big buzz. Things are certainly scaled down this year, perhaps with good reason. Hell, having "The Master" in the fest might just be overkill. As it is, "Killing Them Softly" is filling that role quite well, and I'm looking forward to what Andrew Dominik has for us in a more contemporary crime thriller.

Last year Jeff Nichols brought "Take Shelter" to the fest, and it actually proved to be a spectacular actors vehicle for Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain. He's back this year with "Mud", which hopes to do a career revival for Reese Witherspoon and Matthew McConaughey, while continuing his collaboration with Shannon. I'm most interested to see it for Sarah Paulson, who was a dynamite firecracker in "Martha Marcy May Marlene", and will hopefully be given more spectacular work here. Lee Daniels reenters into the fold after "Precious" rocked Sundance three years previous, this time with "The Paperboy" starring the unlikely pairing of Zac Efron and Nicole Kidman. It's the latter that has me hooked on the property, but maybe Efron has something different to show us this time.

Matteo Garrone brought us "Gomorrah" back in 2008, and now has "Reality" to show if we should be keeping an even closer eye on this guy. John Hillcoat's "Lawless", formerly titled "The Wettest County in the World", was pushed back from April to August, presumably so it could compete in this fest, along with upping Oscar chances towards the year's end. Over in Un Certain Regard, "Beasts of the Southern Wild" seems to be taking up a post-Sundance winners lap on its way to a late-June release. I'm most interested to see "7 Days in Havana", bringing together seven directors, amongst them Gaspar Noe and Laurent Cantet. And out of competition, isn't "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" just a no-brainer? A little light entertainment to alleviate what seems to be a serious lineup.

Check out the rest of the lineup, along with a more informed point of view via In Contention.

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