THE 65TH Cannes film festival kicks off tonight, with the world premiere of Wes Anderson’s fantasy comedy MOONRISE KINGDOM. Over the next 11 days, over 200 films will screen, with 22 competing in official competition, and Cannes veterans (Ken Loach and Michael Haneke among them) outnumbering first-timers by three to one.
Despite this – and the much-publicised lack of female voices in competition – this year's Critics Week strand is celebrating rookie filmmakers with debut features: among them, Rufus Norris’ BROKEN, which stars this year’s jury president Tim Roth. A larger-than-usual selection from the US will also feature (in addition to Anderson, TAKE SHELTER’s Jeff Nichols returns with MUD, David Cronenberg with COSMOPOLIS, Lee Daniels with THE PAPERBOY), together with several Australasian films and filmmakers (John Hillcoat with LAWLESS, Andrew Dominik with KILLING THEM SOFTLY, Wayne Blair with THE SAPPHIRES).
Several classics are also being revived, with gleaming new prints to screen both in the festival’s main hub, the Palais (Sergio Leone’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, Roman Polanski’s TESS), and its adjacent beach (a series of James Bond classics, including DR NO, which celebrates its 50 anniversary).
Among the hundreds of guests expected on the Croisette: Martin Scorsese, Roman Polanski, Robert De Niro, Brad Pitt, Nicole Kidman, Bruce Willis, Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and many, many more.
Below are 10 of the most essential films screening both in and out of competition, with the late Claude Miller’s THERESE DESQUEYROUX, starring Audrey Tautou – and the all-important Palme D’Or – closing proceedings on May 27.
THE ANGELS’ SHARE
One of Britain’s most cherished and respected filmmakers, Cannes veteran Ken Loach steps back from his trademark grit and grime for this offbeat comedy centred around a group of young Glaswegians – and a plan to steal a barrel of vintage whisky.
After the drier-than-usual offering of last year’s A DANGEROUS METHOD, David Cronenberg returns to more familiar territory with this highly anticipated dose of the bizarre. TWILIGHT’s Robert Pattinson (above) stars as a 28-year-old billionaire who, en route to having a haircut, experiences a series of increasingly odd experiences while riding in his stretch limo. (Cronenberg’s son Brandon also has his debut feature ANTIVIRAL screening here, in Un Certain Regard.)
KILLING THEM SOFTLY
BRAD PITT reteams with Kiwi director Andrew Domink (THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, CHOPPER) for this dark crime thriller, previously entitled COGAN’S TRADE, in which pro enforcer Jackie Coogan (Pitt) investigates a heist carried out during a Mob-protected poker game. ANIMAL KINGDOM’s Ben Mendelsohn and MONSTERS’ Scott McNairy co-star with James Gandolfini and Richard Jenkins.
Australia’s John Hillcoat (THE ROAD, THE PROPOSITION) reteams with creative partner, musician and author Nick Cave, for this gangster take on the Bondurants, formerly known as THE WETTEST COUNTRY. In it, a pair of real-life bottlegging brothers go on the run, in Prohibition-era Virginia. Tom Hardy (WARRIOR) and Shia Labeouf (TRANSFORMERS) join Guy Pearce (MILDRED PIERCE, ANIMAL KINGDOM), Jessica Chastain (THE HELP, THE TREE OF LIFE) and GARY OLDMAN (TINKER TAILOR SOLDER SPY).
Back at Cannes after wowing with last year’s TAKE SHELTER, Jeff Nichols (SHOTGUN STORIES) once again writes and directs this offbeat tale of a man named Mud (Matthew Mcconaughey) whose found hiding out on an island by two boys. His stories of killing and vengeance seem far-fetched – until bounty hunters (and a blonde bombshell) rock up in their Mississippi town.
ON THE ROAD
Brazilian filmmaker Walter Salles (THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES) sets out to achieve the unthinkable: a big-screen adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s Beat classic ON THE ROAD, produced by Francis Ford Coppola, long thought impossible to translate on film. Garrett Hedlund and Sam Riley (CONTROL) are supported by Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst and Viggo Mortensen.
Tween heartthrob Zac Efron pursues the serious acting tag hinted at in Scott Hicks’ THE LUCKY ONE, with this latest offering from acclaimed filmmaker Lee Daniels (PRECIOUS). Co-starring with the lad are John Cusack and Australia’s Nicole Kidman, the latter generating buzz at Cannes with an expanded presence that includes the Philip Kaufman feature, HEMINGWAY AND GELLHORN.
Screening as part of this year’s Cannes Classics strand, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1927 boxing drama – restored to all its expressionistic glory courtesy of the British Film Institute – is an early glimpse at a master honing his craft. Clearly suggestive of the time he spent in Germany, THE RING was Hitchcock’s one and only self-penned screenplay, in which a boxer loses his girl to an Australian pro.
Australia’s indigenous filmmakers continue to build on the success brought by 2009’s SAMSON AND DELILAH, which won the Golden Camera at Cannes. This long-forgotten musical tale – of an Aboriginal girl group plucked from obscurity to entertain western forces in Vietnam in 1968 – is Australia’s only officially selected film (several more are screening to market, and two key Australasian filmmakers are in official competition, with US-backed films).
Having just shared a sneak peek of the film’s footage on his blog, Ben Wheatley’s third feature is expected to generate significant heat at market here at Cannes, following last year’s breakout success of cult hit KILL LIST. Here, a couple’s idyllic caravan holiday turns into a living hell. Expect the unthinkable – and a shocking twist or two – to feature.
The 65th Festival de Cannes runs until May 27.