Cannes lineup heavy on U.S. fare as Twi-hards prepare to mob fest

Posted by · 2:39 am · April 19th, 2012

What do Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Zac Efron and Shia LaBeouf all have in common? Speak up, I can’t hear you above all that high-pitched screaming. If what you’re trying to say is that they’re all set to walk the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival next month as their new films premiere in Competition, then you’d be right. Cue every Cannes-bound journalist throwing a set of earplugs into their luggage.

Of course, it’s not as if those august Cannes selectors have acquiesced to the Twilight generation. All of them are appearing in the kind of grown-up, semi-arthouse fare that is par for the course at Cannes: Pattinson in David Cronenberg’s “Cosmopolis,” Stewart in Walter Salles’s “On the Road,” Efron in Lee Daniels’ “The Paperboy,” LaBeouf in John Hillcoat’s “Lawless” (formerly “The Wettest County in the World”).

We expect such starry-but-classy North American titles to compete at the festival. We don’t, however, usually expect quite so many of them. Joining the aforementioned films on the Competition list are Andrew Dominik’s “Killing Them Softly,” a reunion with “The Assassination of Jesse James” star Brad Pitt; Jeff Nichols’ “Mud,” starring Reese Witherspoon and Matthew McConaughey; and Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom,” which will be the first Cannes curtain-raiser to vie for the Palme d’Or since “Blindness” in 2008.

With so many U.S.-oriented films in the lineup, it’d be greedy to mourn the absence of Terrence Malick’s latest, Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” or Derek Cianfrance’s “The Place Beyond the Pines,” all of which featured prominently in many Cannes prediction lists. The rest of the world needs some room too, and the selection is predictably heavy on world-cinema titans who have been here many times before.

With “Amour (Love),” Michael Haneke makes his sixth Competition appearance, after finally winning the Palme with his last effort, “The White Ribbon.” Jacques Audiard, whom Haneke beat into second place in 2009, is also back with his Marion Cotillard starrer “Rust and Bone,” though he’s not the most venerable French auteur in the running: that’d be 89-year-old Alain Resnais, whose “You Haven’t Seen Anything Yet” marks his fifth Palme bid, 53 years after his first. (He’s never won the prize.)

Along with Haneke, three former Palme d’Or recipients are back in the hunt. Romania’s Cristian Mungiu returns with “Beyond the Hills,” his first feature since “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” floored the festival crowd in 2007. Just two years after “Certified Copy,” my own favorite film of Cannes 2010, Abbas Kiarostami returns with his fifth Competition entry, “Like Someone in Love” — which continues the Iranian director’s travels away from his homeland, this time into Japan.

None of these directors, however, come close to Ken Loach for the title of most Cannes appointments. The king of British social realism has become an unmovable Cannes fixture over the years, and sure enough, “The Angels’ Share” marks his eleventh Competition appearance — though colleagues who have already seen the film aren’t rushing out to place bets on it. (Incidentally, it’s the only UK title in any section of Cannes this year — a bit of a comedown after “Shame,” “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” and “Wuthering Heights” rocked Venice last year.) 

The most glaring absence in this year’s Competition lineup as that of any female directors at all — a bit of a blow to the cause after last year’s record number of four. Similarly, while the selectors took a chance on two debut filmmakers last year, none made the cut this time round. Indeed, of the 22 directors in Competition, 16 (including Matteo Garrone, Thomas Vinterberg, Carlos Reygadas and Hong Sang-soo) have been to this particular dance before. The other six mostly include the well-known American and Australians listed at the top of this article — such as Daniels, who was in Un Certain Regard three years ago, and Nichols, who won the Critics’ Week strand last year. Not a year for outsiders, then.

It’ll be up to the Un Certain Regard section to uncover the surprise talents, though familiar names abound there too. Among them are 23 year-old Québecois upstart Xavier Dolan, whose “Heartbeats” was in the same strand two years ago, and who was widely expected to be promoted to Competition status with his new effort “Laurence Anyways.” Also staying put is Argentina’s Pablo Trapero, a 2008 Competition entrant whose 2010 thriller “Carancho” was demoted to UCR, and remains there with another Ricardo Darin starrer, “White Elephant.” It’s not his only film in this strand, either: he’s also a contributor to “7 Days in Havana,” a portmanteau piece that also features Benicio Del Toro, Gaspar Noe and former Palme champ Laurent Cantet on the directors’ list.

Among the newcomers in Un Certain Regard is a certain Brandon Cronenberg, who will unveil his suitably Cronenbergian-sounding debut feature “Antiviral” (a sci-fi effort about harvesting celebrity viruses) in the smaller pool, while dad David brings “Cosmopolis” to the Competition. Meanwhile, following “Precious,” “Blue Valentine” and “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” there’s an apparent slot reserved in this strand for a Sundance sensation — the only Cannes film to have already premiered at another festival. I suspected Benh Zeitlin’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” which beguiled critics and took the Grand Jury Prize in Utah in January, would fill that slot this year. I was right.

There’s plenty more to look forward to, including out-of-competition entries from such big names as Bernardo Bertolucci, Takashi Miike and Philip Kaufman — to mention the mammoth “Once Upon a Time in America” restoration I discussed yesterday — but I’ll get to those in due course.

Those of you who were with us last year may remember our Cannes Check series from last year, in which we built our appetites for the festival by individually examining each of the titles in Competition — I’ll be doing the same this year, so look out for that. In the meantime, check out the full lineup below, and roll on May 16.


“Moonrise Kingdom,” Wes Anderson (opening film)

“Rust and Bone,” Jacques Audiard

“Holy Motors,” Leos Carax

“Cosmopolis,” David Cronenberg

“The Paperboy,” Lee Daniels

“Killing Them Softly,” Andrew Dominik

“Reality,” Matteo Garrone

“Amour,” Michael Haneke

“Lawless,” John Hillcoat

“Like Someone in Love,” Abbas Kiarostami

“The Angels’ Share,” Ken Loach

“In the Fog,” Sergei Loznitsa

“Beyond the Hills,” Cristian Mungiu

“Baad el mawkeaa,” Yousry Nasrallah

“Mud,” Jeff Nichols

“You Haven’t Seen Anything Yet,” Alain Resnais

“Post tenebras lux,” Carlos Reygadas

“On the Road,” Walter Salles

“In Another Country,” Hong Sang-soo

“Taste of Money,” Im Sang-soo

“Paradies: Liebe,” Ulrich Seidl   

“The Hunt,” Thomas Vinterberg           


“Miss Lovely,” Ashim Ahluwalia

“La Playa,” Juan Andres Arango

“Les Chevaux de Dieu,” Nabil Ayouch

“7 Days in Havana,” Laurent Cantet, Benicio del Toro, Julio Medem, Gaspar Noe, Elia Suleiman, Juan Carlos Tabio, Pablo Trapero

“Trois mondes,” Catherine Corsini

“Antiviral,” Brandon Cronenberg

“Le grand soir,” Benoit Delepine, Gustave Kervern

“Laurence Anyways,” Xavier Dolan

“Despues de Lucia,” Michel Franco

“Loving Without Reason,” Joachim Lafosse

“Student,” Darezhan Omirbayev

“La Pirogue,” Moussa Toure

“White Elephant,” Pablo Trapero

“Confession of a Child of the Century,” Sylvie Verheyde 

“11.25 The Day He Chose His Own Fate,” Koji Wakamatsu

“Mystery,” Lou Ye

“Beasts of the Southern Wild,” Benh Zeitlin         


“Me and You,” Bernardo Bertolucci

“Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted,” Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, Conrad Vernon

“Hemingway & Gellhorn,” Philip Kaufman 


“Dario Argento’s Dracula,” Dario Argento

“The Legend of Love & Sincerity,” Takashi Miike


“A musica segundo Tom Jobim,” Nelson Pereira Dos Santos

“The Central Park Five,” Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, David McMahon

“Der Mull im Garten Eden,” Fatih Akin

“Journal de France,” Claudine Nougaret, Raymond Depardon

“Les Invisibles,” Sebastien Lifshitz

“Mekong Hotel,” Apichatpong Weerasethakul

“Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir,” Laurent Bouzereau

“Villegas,” Gonzalo Tobal


“Therese Desqueyroux,” Claude Miller

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

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