- Published on Friday, May 25 2012
- Written by Sarah Osman
The annual film extravaganza otherwise known as the Cannes Film Festival is celebrating its 65th year with a slew of literally all types of films, ranging from documentaries to dramas, avant-garde to classics, and comedies to romances. The first Cannes was held on September 20, 1946, and was originally held in September, until it was moved to May staring in 1952. To commemorate its 65th anniversary, Cannes opened with Wes Anderson’s latest endearing romp, Moonrise Kingdom. The festival truly honored a wide variety of films this year, and we have the inside scoop on the 10 most promising ones!
1. Lawless: Adapted from Matt Bondurant’s best-selling book, The Wettest County in the World, Lawless tells the tale of the real-life adventures of the Bondurant brothers, who made a successful name for themselves -- as well as plenty of enemies -- by becoming powerful bootleggers during the prohibition era in Virginia. The film, which is directed by Australian filmmaker John Hillcoat (The Road), features an all-star ensemble including Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Shia LaBoeuf, Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain, and Mia Wasikowska. The film has been hailed by critics for its visuals, potent atmosphere, juicy characters, and suspenseful story line. If you dig great gangster and outlaw movies, then you should definitely check out Lawless when it hits theaters at the end of August.
2. Cosmopolis: Currently being compared to Edward Munch’s infamous painting, “The Scream”, Cosmopolis stars Robert Pattinson as a New York hot-shot finance guru who is convinced that he is about to be assassinated. The film, which is based off of the novel of the same name by Don DeLillo, was directed by David Cronenberg (A History of Violence) and also stars Jay Baruchel, Samantha Morton, Paul Giamatti, and Juliette Binoche. While it is rather odd for a film to be compared to a famous piece of artwork, the two both capture the feeling of the modern world, where we have every bit of technological comfort yet still feel captured by violence. If you are a fan of DeLillo’s (if you haven’t read White Noise, I recommend reading it immediately) and enjoy films that take a rather dark look at current society, then Cosmopolis may be the perfect film for you.
3. Killing Them Softly: Directed by Andrew Dominik, (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), Killing Them Softly stars Brad Pitt as Jackie Cogan, a professional mob enforcer who runs into some nasty hurdles after investigating a heist that went down during a mob-protected poker game. Based on the novel by Cogan’s Trade by George V. Higgins, the film is currently being compared to last year’s surprise hit Drive and has been noted for its realistic look at the gritty world of recession-hit criminals. The film also stars tough guys James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, and Sam Shepard. If you are still missing episodes of "The Sopranos", then watch Killing Them Softly when it hits theaters at the end of September.
4. Beasts of the Southern Wild: Already the winner of the grand jury prize from the Sundance Film Festival in January, Beasts of the Southern Wild is a magical tale set in the bayous of Louisiana. Directed by newcomer Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild stars newcomer Quvenzhane Wallis as Hushpuppy, an imaginative young girl who sets out to find her estranged mother when her father’s health takes a turn for the worst. The film also focuses on the local community, whose lives are turned upside down when storm waters swallow up the land that they call home. The film also stars Dwight Henry, Gina Montana, and Jovan Hathaway. The direction of Beasts of the Southern Wild has been compared to that of Terrence Malick’s, as well as Ben Richardson’s cinematography, which has a habit of focusing on even the ugliest things. The film’s score by Dan Romer and Zeitlin adds a nice ominous undertone to the film, and the overall visuals of the film is quite impressive. If you are a fan of Malick’s, then check out Beasts of the Southern Wild when it is released in limited theaters at the end of June.
5. The We and the I: Helmed by music video and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind director extraordinaire, Michel Gondry’s latest film has a scrappy charm that originates from its lovable characters. The We and the I takes a look at a group of New York teenagers who ride the same bus route to school and how their relationships change and evolve on the last day of school. The film stars a group of newcomers including Brandon Diaz, Meghan Murphy, Michael Brodie, Teresa Lynn, Alex Barrios, Lady Chen Carrasco, and Patricia Jade Persaud, among many others. The We and the I has a sweet sincerity about it, and Gondry pulls effortless and natural performances from his nonprofessional cast. The score is a lively mix that works with the film’s coming-of-age story: how, in one second, teenagers can go from nauseating angst to surprising tenderness. If you’re a fan of Gondry, then you will probably love The We and the I.
6. Amour: German filmmaker Michael Haneke, who won the Palme D’Or in 2009 for The White Ribbon, is back with a truly heart-wrenching tale. Amour focuses on two retired music teachers whose love is tested when one of them has an attack, and their musician daughter comes to assist them. The film stars some top French actors, including Jean-Louis Tringtigant, Emanuelle Riva, and Isabelle Huppert. Amour takes a straightforward look at the meaning of love and the difficulties that the elderly face. Filled with touching moments, most of the film takes place in the couple’s apartment and deeply explores their love and difficulties with one another. For those who love French cinema, then Amour is a must-see.
7. Rust and Bone: Oscar-winner and French beauty Marion Cotillard stars in this moving drama as Stephanie, a French Marineland whale trainer who, after losing her legs during a public performance, grows a bond with Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts), who has come to live with his sister and her family after being put in charge of taking care of his son. Directed by Jacques Audiard (A Prophet), the film benefits from its unvarnished and frank performances by its two lead actors. The deep emotions of the film are charged but not wallowed within, and Cotillard’s portrayal as Stephanie is truly breathtaking. Rust and Bone has already been released in France and will be released in America later in the year. If you are a fan of Cotillard, then be sure to watch this one.
8. The Central Park Five: Famed Documentarian Ken Burns and his daughter, Sarah Burns, have partnered with her husband, David McMahon, to examine the 1989 Central Park jogger rape case. The controversial case centers around five Latino and black teens with no previous charges who were convicted of raping an investment banker. They spent between 6 and 13 years in prison before a serial rapist confessed to the crime, and their convictions were overturned in 2002. The films takes a haunting look at racial tension and violence, as well as at the police’s quick judgment, the media frenzy that engulfed the case, and the five lives that were forever impacted by the injustice. The Central Park Five is a nice tie-in with Sarah Burns's book which examines the case, The Central Park Five: A Chronicle of a City Wilding. The film will no doubt raise a bit of controversy.
9. Moonrise Kingdom: The first film to be screened at Cannes is also the first film to be released in theaters. Moonrise Kingdom, the latest in Wes Anderson’s quirky flicks, is set in 1965 New England and follows a pair of youths who run away from home, and the eccentric tracking party set to find them. Co-written by Roman Coppola, the film features some of the top names in Hollywood, including Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, and Frances McDormand. Moonrise Kingdom is currently being noted as Anderson’s best film in years for its razor-sharp wit and endearing romance between the two teenagers. In true Anderson style, each of the characters are equally as nutty and unbalanced, which usually always equals great comedy. If you’re an Anderson fan or just a fan of quirky comedies, then check out Moonrise Kingdom, opening in limited theaters this weekend.
10. On the Road: The long-awaited adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s beat generation classic, On the Road, finally comes to theaters. Directed by Wallace Salles, the film follows Sal Paradise (Sam Riley), Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund), and his wife Mary-Lou (Kristen Stewart) as they take a road trip across America in the 1950s. The star-studded ensemble also includes Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams, Viggo Mortensen, Steve Buscemi, Terrence Howard, and Elisabeth Moss. This is not the first attempt at turning On the Road into a film -- in fact, author Jack Kerouac once wrote Marlon Brando suggesting that he play Dean Moriarty while he play Sal. Garret Hedlund and Kristen Stewart have both received praise for their portrayals, and the film’s sweeping use of cinematography to cover the ever-changing landscape has been admired by critics. If you secretly wear turtlenecks and worship Allen Ginsberg, then be sure to watch On the Road when it’s released in theaters later this year.
1. "Gasp": Directed by Eicke Bettinga, this German short focuses on a 17-year-old boy who pushes his longing to feel something to the limits.
2. "Mi Santa Mirada (My Holy Gaze)": This powerful Puerto Rican short focuses on Sam, a drug trafficking subordinate who decides to portray his boss Paco.
3. "Miracle Mile Girls": Directed by our own YH editor-in-chief, Katie Marzullo, this American short follows the lives of three young actresses as they try to navigate the treacherous waters of Hollywood.
- Sarah Osman, YH Staff
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