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Peter Bradshaw on the Cannes 2018
plenty of newcomers in
Thu 12 Apr 2018 16.35 BST
Eva Husson’s drama Girls of the Sun, one of the films competing at
this year’s Cannes film festival.
Some mixed signals with the traditional unveiling of the
Cannes film festival’s official selection: a very lively and effervescent list,
with eight newcomers in competition and plenty of big names sidelined.
No Mike Leigh, and no Claire Denis, although their new films may not be
ready – or they may in fact be added in the next few days.
But there are some notable entries from the silverbacks of the auteur big
league, including Jean-Luc
Godard and Spike Lee.
The new Star Wars episode will provide a little pop-culture
confectionery – and perhaps there will be stormtroopers roaming the Croisette as
there were the last time a Star Wars movie was presented at Cannes. Wim
Wenders is in the Special Screenings sidebar with his documentary
Pope Francis: A Man of His
Word, although His Holiness is not expected to make an
appearance on the red carpet.
This is the first Cannes lineup since the
explosion of #MeToo and #TimesUp, when festival director Thierry Frémaux announced his “consternation” at
the revelations about Cannes habitué Harvey
Weinstein. But with 15 male and three female directors in
competition, the festival isn’t taking obvious steps along the “diversity” route
being suggested elsewhere. Frémaux has announced that “There will never be a
selection with positive discrimination” — although “positive discrimination” is
not precisely what campaigners are arguing for.
The other issue is, of
course, the Netflix controversy: last year, the French industry was furious that
Netflix films were allowed into competition despite not showing in French
cinemas; this year Cannes barred them from competing, and then Netflix declined
to enter any of its films in the non-competitive strands, including its
much-anticipated restoration of Orson
Other Side of the Wind – a big blow to cinephiles.
lineup features Jean-Luc
Godard, Spike Lee – and
The festival has, perhaps unfortunately, combined the
announcement about the Netflix absence with another about selfies being banned
on the red carpet this year. It creates the inadvertent impression that Cannes
considers Netflix and selfies to be all just part of the vulgar new media world
that the festival wishes to rise above.
Well, this is certainly another
tasty list, made even more alluring by the fact that press screenings will no
longer happen in advance. Everyone sees the film at the same time. Secrets are
kept. Surprises – and shocks – are preserved. But there will undoubtedly be a
huge and disorderly crush outside the screening theatres for the biggest names.
And it is still a mystery why Cannes simply does not introduce review
The opening film comes from Asghar
Farhadi, a film-maker who has become one of the festival’s most
honoured guests. His Everybody
Knows is a Spanish-language psychological thriller, starring
Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem and Ricardo Darín. A genre movie
from this director will certainly be a sugar-rush beginning to the festival,
although perhaps he will turn out to be too subtlea film-maker to handle this
sort of material.
Godard’s The Image Book
promises to be another complex meditation on the nature of culture and
communication, like his previous competition entry Farewell to Language. The film avowedly concerns:
“Nothing but silence, nothing but a revolutionary song, a
story in five chapters like the five fingers of a
BlacKkKlansman brings this director
to Cannes for the first time since 1991, when he was at the festival with Jungle
Fever. The movie, produced by Get Out director Jordan Peele, is about the
real-life story of Ron Stallworth, the black police officer who went undercover
in 1978 to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan — speaking on the phone to Klansmen and
sending white officers in his place when face-to-face meetings were required. He
is played by John David Washington, son of Denzel
The much-admired Alice Rohrwacher – whose 2014 film
The Wonders was in competition at Cannes – brings her new film Lazzaro Felice to
the Croisette this year, a film which also heralds a welcome return for the
Spanish actor Sergi López. Rohrwacher is keeping the details of the film quiet,
but intriguingly says that it concerns a man who time-travels 50
Pawlikowski is the nearest thing Britain has an interest in Cannes
this year – this Polish director moved to the UK when he was a teenager,
settling in the country at the age of 20. His Zimna
Wojna, or Cold War concerns a love story
between two mismatched people in Poland during the cold war of the
Lee Chang-dong is one
of the mightiest of the Cannes regulars – a really superb film-maker whose films
are always a must-see at the festival. His new competition film, Burning, is an adaptation of the 1992 New Yorker
short story Barn Burning by the Japanese author Haruki Murakami, about a writer who meets a
mysterious figure at a party claiming to be an arsonist.
It’s always a
relief to find something described as “feelgood” at Cannes, and that is how
Three Faces, the new film from
acclaimed Iranian film-maker Jafar
Panahi, was decribed by Thierry Frémaux
at the press conference. The film tells the story of three
Iranian actresses: one pre-revolutionary veteran who has now retired, one
current star and one acting student. It is not clear whether the Iranian
authorities will permit Panahi to travel abroad to attend the festival in
person: he is still subject to a travel ban due to his pro-democracy
Iranian film director Jafar
Panahi smiles, following his release on bail, at his home in Tehran
Another Cannes regular is Hirokazu
Kore-eda, whose Shoplifters comes into competition this year. It is
another family drama – a genre that Kore-eda has inherited from Ozu and Naruse.
The second Japanese director at Cannes is Ryusuke
Hamaguchi, with his Netemo Sametemo, or Sleeping or Waking; based on the novel by Tomoka
Shibasaki, it has a rather Hitchcockian premise. A
young woman living in Osaka falls in love with a free-sprited man who one day
mysteriously disappears. Then two years later, in Tokyo, she meets a man who
looks exactly like the man she lost.
If there is a really sexy
entrant, it is Under the Silver
Lake, by David Robert
Mitchell who set Cannes alight with his scary movie It Follows,
which was part of Critics’ week in 2014. It is billed as a neo-noir black comedy
(written by Mitchell): Andrew Garfield plays Sam, a guy who has fallen
hopelessly in love with his beautiful neighbour who then disappears. Intriguing
– but possibly overcooked?
Garrone is a Cannes heavy-hitter from Italy pretty much guaranteed
a place here. His competition film Dogman is an “urban western”, apparently inspired
by a bizarre true-crime story from 1980: torture and murder
committed by a coke-addled dog groomer on the outskirts of Rome. It’s a film
that promises to return this director to the naturalistic style of his great mob
Zhangke is a Chinese director who has a kind of A-list
status on the festival circuit, while being rather less well known at home.
Either way, he is another big Cannes beast, and his Ash Is Purest White, a love
story set in China’s crime underworld, looks like a characteristically ambitious
and even epic film.
Serebrennikov is the progressive Russian
theatre and film director who is currently under house arrest in Russia for
supposed financial irregularities – which many see as the government’s pretext
for cracking down on this director’s criticism of the government. His
is a love triangle set in Moscow in the early 80s, to a
soundtrack of western rock music such as Bowie and Led Zeppelin.
Serebrennikov’s film "Leto
Cannes festival’s lineup
wouldn’t be Cannes if the craggy-faced (and excellent) French actor Vincent
Lindon did not appear in a French film. Last year, sadly, he showed up in a
silly movie about Rodin. This year he is back in En Guerre, or At War, by the French director Stéphane
Brizé — another social-realist drama about a
factory shutdown and a workers’ representative battling to save
The other French auteur is Christophe Honoré with Plaire, Aimer et Courir Vite, or Pleasure, Love
and Running Fast – the English title is Sorry Angel. The movie brings two lives into alignment: a middle-aged writer in
Paris and a young student in Brittany — it stars Pierre Deladonchamps, Vincent
Lacoste and Denis Podalydès.
Husson made her startling debut in 2015 at Toronto with her Bang
Gang (A Modern Love Story), now she is at Cannes with her follow-up,
Les Filles du Soleil, or
Girls of the Sun, starring Golshifteh
Farahani and Emmanuelle
Bercot. Farahani plays a Kurdish fighter
leading an all-female battalion called Daughters of the Sun, who is about to
retake her hometown, once captured by Isis; Bercot plays the French journalist
who meets her there.
The Lebanese actor and director Nadine
Labaki is known for elegant comic dramas like Caramel
Do We Go Now?. She is in competition this year with Capernaum, another
Lebanese-set drama, using mostly non-professionals, about a boy who rebels
against the life imposed on him and launches a lawsuit.
Capernaum is the village in Israel where Jesus is said to have
taught in the synagogue and healed the sick.
Yomeddine is a road movie by the Egyptian-Austrian
film-maker Abu Bakr Shawky, about a middle-aged man raised in a leper colony who journeys
across Egypt with an orphan boy whimsically named Obama, and a donkey, on a
mission to reconnect with the family who abandoned him there as a child. The
lead is played by non-professional actor Rady Gamal, who is in fact a resident
of this colony.
Egyptian film 'Yomeddine'
So, another very attractive
list, with some smart-looking choices. Will the outstanding movies come from the
newcomers or the established stars? As ever, we shall see.
2018 CANNES FILM FESTIVAL
“Asako I & II” AKA “Netemo Sametemo” (Ryusuke
“Ash Is Purest White” (Jia Zhang-Ke)
“At War” (Stéphane Brizé)
“BlacKkKlansman” (Spike Lee)
“Burning” (Lee Chang-dong)
“Capernaum” (Nadine Labaki)
“Cold War” (Pawel Pawlikowski)
“Dogman” (Matteo Garrone)
“Girls of the Sun” (Eva Husson)
“The Image Book” (Jean-Luc Godard)
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