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Breaking Down Cannes 70

As shared right here yesterday, the official selection of this year’s Cannes Film Festival was finally unveiled after weeks of heavy speculation (our own included). It’s a tyically stellar lineup full of cinematic heavyweights both behind and in front of the camera. Here’s a quick rundown of what caught our eyes, piqued our interest, made us wonder.

The Usual Suspects

To the surprise of exactly no one, Michael Haneke will hit the Croisette again with Happy End, an ominously cheerful title coming from the guy who had quite the idea for Funny Games. Other Cannes regulars that will show up as expected are Todd Haynes, Sofia Coppola, Yorgos Lanthimos, John Cameron Mitchell, Hong Sang-soo, Lynn Ramsay, Michel Hazanavicius and Naomi Kawase. These are all people who have walked the iconic steps to the Grand Théâtre Lumière before and proved time and again they know a thing or two about storytelling. Call it playing it safe, but the world’s most prestigious film festival probably wants to have its bases covered for the 70th edition.

Although we predicted this, the inclusion of Russian auteur Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless and Korean genre master Bong Joon-ho’s Okja was something of a surprise. Both are eagerly anticipated follow-ups to critical hits from Cannes-caliber filmmakers of course (Leviathan and Snowpiercer respectively). But many assumed the former simply wouldn’t be finished in time and supposed insider scoop indicated the latter’s Netflix-DNA might present too high a hurdle for it to clear. Well, both made it, and especially in the case of Loveless, a divorce drama that will no doubt be all kinds of devastating, we’re already getting some serious Palme vibe.

Didn’t See That Coming

A truly pleasant surprise was to see François Ozon’s L’Amant Double (literally transltes to Double Lover) on the list. Having just premiered his previous film Franz and started shooting this one last fall, the prolific and versatile director seems to be getting back into Swimming Pool and Under the Sand territory with this erotic thriller about a young woman falling in love with her shrink.

Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó won wide acclaim (not from this guy by the way) for his canine revenge tale White God, but probably few tapped him over fellow Un Certain Regard allumni Ruben Östlund (Force Majeure) to be this year’s graduate from the sidebars into the big league. Ditto the Safdie brothers who made a huge leap to join the ranks of legends with their third narrative feature Good Time, a crime drama starring Robert Pattinson and the always welcome Jennifer Jason Leigh. Also to come seemingly out of nowhere is a new Noah Baumbach ensemble comedy entitled The Meyerowitz Stories. We might have wished for somebody else in the lead than Adam Sandler but hey, Punch-Drunk Love gave us hope.

Meanwhile, we knew they wouldn’t leave out Hong Sang-soo but didn’t know they’d go and invite him twice over, with the higher-profiled Isabelle Huppert vehicle Claire’s Camera squeezed to a less glamorous Special Screening spot by competition entry The Day After, a black-and-white drama starring the director’s longtime muse Kim Min-hee. Not to be topped by the double billing of Hong and Huppert, the true red carpet fixture this year will be Nicole Kidman, who is on course to dominate the award circuit 2017 after an Oscar nominated performance in Lion and an Emmy-bound star turn in Big Little Lies with FOUR Cannes outings across the sections. Besides The Beguiled, The Killing of a Sacred Deer in competition, How to Talk to Girls at Parties out of competition, she’ll headline the second season of Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake which screens as a „70th Anniversary Event“. Kidman is easily one of the most gifted, fearless and hard-working actors around, we can’t wait to see her show off her intimidating range in four wildly different projects.

Speaking of TV, the biggest shocker from yesterday’s announcement (and reason for conceivably the most nightmarish queue at this year’s festival) had to be Twin Peaks. Who knew Cannes would give up their high-minded TV-resistance so readily? We didn’t dare dream it – but now that it’s happening, the other filmmakers better bring it for the whole thing not to be stolen by two episodes of television.

MIA / Still to Come?

Besides The Square by Ruben Östlund mentioned above, the absence of Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Wild Pear Tree, Joachim Trier’s Thelma and Woody Allen’s Wonder Wheel also raises eyebrows. As does the compelte no-show of Hollywood major studio pictures. No Cars 3, no Pirates of the Caribbean 5, not even those from directors with arthouse credentials like King Arthur or Dunkirk. Geographically speaking, China, the world’s second largest film market at the moment, was shut out of the official selection for the second year in a row – quite a statement considering the olympian status of Cannes. It’s worth noting, though, that at 18 titles, the competition program could be expanded to accommodate a couple of late additions. Last year they did this with the eventual foreign language Oscar winner The Salesman – could Thierry Frémaux still be holding out for any of the above or something else entirely? Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit, whose gripping trailer just dropped the day before, anyone?

Palme Season

When in Cannes, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that you might be watching three of the best movies that year in one single day. Add to that the strenuous schedule, heat and general exhaustion, perspectives are inevitably skewed. Sight unseen and from the comfortable distance of a month away, this guy’s most psyched for

The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Happy End
Twin Peaks
Loveless
Wonderstruck

with L’Amant Double and the Korean midnight frighteners thrown in there for kicks. One small mercy we do know now is that the films selected this year have rather festival friendly lengths. The longest film in competition, Sergey Loznitsa’s A Gentle Creature, clocks in at 2’22 and the majority of its competitors are under two hours. Check out the full lineup with official runtimes below and let us know which films you absolutely can’t wait to see.