No Cannes (or Venice) premiere for Wong Kar-wai's 'The Grandmasters'

Posted by · 3:40 pm · April 3rd, 2012

We’re still over two weeks from the official announcement of this year’s Cannes Film Festival lineup, but speculation over the inclusions is in full swing — the blogosphere is littered with wish lists, predictions (the most thorough of which is this rundown by critic and betting man Neil Young) and even purported leaks, including this bogus one excavated yesterday by Jeffrey Wells.

As a guessing exercise, that list looked plausible enough in some respects — at this stage, few are going to bet against David Cronenberg’s “Cosmopolis” or Jacques Audiard’s “Rust and Bone” showing up in a Competition, while young Directors’ Fortnight and Un Certain Regard graduate Xavier Dolan seems ripe for his first appearance in the big show — but questionable in others. For starters, as much as we’d welcome some fresh blood in the mix, it seems unlikely-to-impossible that perennial Competition participants Michael Haneke, Ken Loach and Abbas Kiarostami, all of whom have films ready for the taking, are all going to miss out on a berth.

One thing the list does have right is the most disheartening rule-out of the Cannes conversation so far. Deadline has confirmed that Wong Kar-wai’s long-awaited, long-delayed martial arts film “The Grandmasters,” once seen as a likely inclusion, will definitely not be ready in time for Cannes — in fact, shooting will still be under way then. Don’t get your hopes up for a fall festival appearance, either: international sales agents Wild Bunch claim the film won’t be ready in time for Venice or Toronto this year. 

“The Grandmasters,” a biopic of influential martial artist and teacher Ip Man, whose students included Bruce Lee, is now rivalling “The Tree of Life” in its degree of postponement and intrigue — its title was mooted ahead of festivals as early as 2010, and now it seems we may not see it until 2013.

Terrence Malick’s film, of course, was rewarded for its prolonged festival tease with an eventual Cannes Competition slot and, ultimately, the Palme d’Or; if Wong’s latest, which reunites him with “2046” stars Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi, follows a similar trajectory, it’d outdo even “2046,” his famously eleventh-hour Cannes delivery in 2004, for festival-related drama. The Hong Kong auteur is famous for taking his sweet time; impatient audiences, keen to see what he brings to such seemingly atypical material for his woozy aesthetic, will just have to humor him a little longer.

What are you hoping to see land in the Cannes lineup? Besides the virtual inevitabilities, I’m personally itching for a glimpse of Laurent Cantet’s “Foxfire,” Pablo Larrain’s “No,” Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” and whichever product of Malick’s bewildering new stream of workaholism surfaces first. What about you?

For more views on movies, awards season and other pursuits, follow @GuyLodge on Twitter.

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