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The 13 films playing Cannes 2013 that we should care about

Cannes 2013

Yesterday morning, the festival programmers announced the slate of films that will be playing at this year’s Cannes Film Festival which runs from 15th to 26th May 2013.

There’s no Irish interest this year but it’s still a truly surprising and exciting mix of films. The list has already been picked apart ad nauseum by proper journalists (here’s Peter Bradshaw’s take for the Guardian, Deadline‘s Nancy Tartaglione, Donald Clarke for The Irish Times and even gossip-monger extraordinaire Perez Hilton has gotten in on the act… ), so we figure it’s just better to just pick out a few highlights for y’all.

The full list of films is at the bottom of the post and you can visit the official Cannes site here.

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All Is Lost

J.C. Chandor’s ‘All Is Lost’

Chandor was Oscar-nominated for his first screenplay Margin Call, a film that he also directed. The financial-meltdown drama may not have been everyone’s cup of tea but I absolutely loved it. His follow-up All is Lost stars Robert Redford as a man who gets trapped at sea. It features no dialogue at all, what a weird script that must have been. in a fun sidenote, Redford’s old friend Paul Newman is the centrepiece of the official Cannes 2013 poster (at the top of this feature) alongside his wife Joanne Woodward.

All is Lost is playing “out of competition” at the festival.

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Alexander Payne's Nebraska

Alexander Payne’s Nebraska

Yes I know that I’ve just used half the cover of Bruce Springsteen’s best album to illustrate the film, but that’s because it’s a great image and there’s no actual press shots of the film yet. Payne’s follow-up to the brilliant The Descendants sees him pairing up two great actors, Bruce Dern and Will Forte. Here’s a brief plot summary courtesy of Collider.

The film centers on an aging alcoholic father (Dern) who decides to take a road trip from Montana to Nebraska to collect what he believes to be a million dollar Publisher’s Clearing House prize. His estranged son (Forte) decides to accompany his father in order to keep him out of trouble.

Former SNL star Forte is a phenomenal comic actor who has had bad luck with film role (MacGruber anyone?), so to see him in a meatier dramatic role gets me very excited. What’s also fascinating about this film is the fact that Payne has been allowed to make it in black and white. What is this, the 50’s? Amazing what a few oscar nominations gets you nowadays.

Nebraska is in competition for the Palme d’Or.

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James Gray's The Immigrant starring Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Renner and Joaquin Phoenix

James Gray’s The Immigrant

The film was previously titled Lowlife and is a period drama about an immigrant woman (Marion Cotillard) who is helped by a magician (Jeremy Renner) who tries to reunite her with her sister who is being held on Ellis Island. Who doesn’t love magicians? Or New York at the turn of the 20th century?

Gray previously worked with Joaquin Phoenix pre-faux-meltdown on Two Lovers, We Own the Night and The Yards. Considering that he has only directed five films, it’s both reassuring and worrying to see Phoenix in four of them.

The Immigrant is in competition for the Palme d’Or.

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Asghar Farhadi’s The Past (Le Passé)

Hey, remember the 2012 Oscars when everyone fell over themselves with The Artist and the Iranian film A Separation? What if we could somehow combine bits of those two films!

Le Passé is the new film from Iranian director Asghar Farhadi and stars Artist actress Bérénice Bejo. The film also stars Tahar Rahim, star of 2009’s A Prophet.

Francophones can watch a trailer here.

An Iranian man having long-term domestic problems with his French wife, deserts his wife and two children to go back to his homeland, Iran. In the meantime, his wife is seeing a French man and therefore writes to him and asks for a divorce which compels the man to come back to France, only to see his wife’s new partner in his home beside his children.

Le Passé is in competition for the Palme d’Or.

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Only God Forgives

Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives

Páraic has the new poster for the Winding Refn/Gosling Drive follow-up as one of his “five things we learned this week“. We’re both fierce excited about it.

Only God Forgives is in competition for the Palme d’Or.

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Jérôme Salle’s Zulu

When I saw Zulu was playing I initially thought the festival programmers were messing with us all and showing us Michael Caine’s 1964 historical epic. But no, a new film with the same title (a pet-hate of mine) is playing instead. It’s interesting because it features two very different actors as crime-fighting buddies forced to work together in mixed-race post-Apartheid Cape Town, South Africa.

The two actors in question have both seen their careers stalling in recent years for different reasons. Forest Whitaker won an Oscar six years ago and hasn’t been in a worthwhile film since, with his most prominent role in the Criminal Minds spin-off for CBS. His Zulu co-star Orlando Bloom hasn’t done much of note since being the housewives favourite in the Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean movies – unless you count the much-maligned 2011 film The Three Musketeers.

Zulu is the closing film at Cannes 2013.

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James Franco in AS I LAY DYING

James Franco’s As I Lay Dying

The Jack White of American cinema (in that we get a WTF news story about him every month or so) is back. Probably the biggest surprise of yesterday’s announcement was the news that James Franco’s new directorial effort As I Lay Dying would be featured in the Un Certain Regard program. Franco adapted the screenplay from the William Faulkner novel of the same name. He’s just come off two very different performances in Irish cinemas in Oz: The Great and The Powerful and Spring Breakers, so maybe his run of good luck will continue.

As I Lay Dying is playing in competition for the Prix Un Certain Regard. 

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Emma Watson in Sofia Coppola's Bling Ring


Sofia Coppola’s Bling Ring

Cannes came under a lot of scrutiny last year for not featuring any female directors in the Palme d’Or shortlist. This year they’ve improved by including one – Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi’s A Castle in Italy (trivia: she is Carla Bruni’s older sister). Away from the main competition there is plenty of female contributions with six of the 15 films showing in Un Certain Regard directed by women. The pick of the bunch to my eyes is Sofia Coppola’s follow-up to Somewhere, the wonderfully titled Bling Ring. Leading the line for Coppola is Hermione Granger herself, Emma Watson. Watson plays one of a group of teenagers who stalk celebrities and rob their houses.

Bling Ring is playing in competition for the Prix Un Certain Regard. 

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Away from these you’ve also got new work from other folks we admire.

  • A feature film (Venus in Fur) and a documentary (Weekend of a Champion) from Roman Polanski,
  • the debut of the new Coen brothers film Inside Llewyn Davis
  • the glorious pairing of Hitler and the new Hannibal in Michael Kohlhaas with Bruno Ganz and Mads Mikkelsen,
  • and finally Stephen Soderbergh’s last ever film (apparently) Behind the Candelabra.

Those five added to the previous eight gives us the 13 films to care about at Cannes 2013!

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In Competition:
A Villa in Italy, Valerie Bruni-Tedeschi
Inside Llewyn Davis, Joel and Ethan Coen
Michael Kolhaas, Arnaud des Pallieres
Jimmy P., Arnaud Desplechin
Heli, Amat Escalante
The Past, Asghar Farhadi
The Immigrant, James Gray
Grisgris, Mahamet Saleh-Haroun
Tian zhu ding, Jia Zhangke
Like Father Like Son, Hirokazu Kore-eda
Blue is the Warmest Color, Abdellatif Kechiche
Straw Shield, Takashi Miike
Jeune et Jolie, Francois Ozon
Nebraska, Alexander Payne
Venus in Furs, Roman Polanski
Behind the Candelabra, Steven Soderbergh
The Great Beauty, Paolo Sorrentino
Borgman, Alex van Warmerdam
Only God Forgives, Nicolas Winding Refn

Opening Film:
The Great Gatsby, Baz Luhrmann

Closing Film:
Zulu, Jerome Salle

Un Certain Regard:
The Bling Ring, Sofia Coppola
Omar, Hany Abu-Assad
Death March, Adolfo Alix Jr.
Fruitvale Station, Ryan Coogler
The Bastards, Claire Denis
Norte, hangganan ng kasaysayan, Lav Diaz
As I Lay Dying, James Franco
Miele, Valeria Golino
L’inconnu de lac, Alain Guiraudie
Bends, Flora Lau
L’image manquante, Rithy Panh
La Jaula de Oro, Diego Quemada-Diez
Anonymous, Mohammad Rasoulof
Sarah prefere la course, Chloe Robichaud
Grand Central, Rebecca Zlotowski

Out Of Competition:
All is Lost, J.C. Chandor
Blood Ties, Guillaume Canet

Special Screenings:
Week End of a Champion, Roman Polanski
Seduced and Abandoned, James Toback
Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight, Stephen Frears
Max Rose, Daniel Noah
Otdat Konci, Taisia Igumentseva
Stop the Pounding Heart, Roberto Minervini

Midnight Screenings:
Monsoon Shootout, Amit Kumar
Blind Detective, Johnnie To

Gala Screening:
Bombay Talkies, Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar and Karan Johar