Top Ten Films to See at Cannes

Can the Cannes Film Festival top itself? It's set itself up for quite a challenge. Last year had incredible films like Tree of Life, Melancholia, Drive and The Artist. It had drama as director Lars von Trier made himself a persona non grata by dragging out a very bad joke (and revealing a lot about his uncouth self). It had stars from Johnny Depp to Brad Pitt. This year the films don't have the same surface allure but there is a lot of promise in the programming.
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Cosmopolis (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.0/10 X  
Riding across Manhattan in a stretch limo in order to get a haircut, a 28-year-old billionaire asset manager's day devolves into an odyssey with a cast of characters that start to tear his world apart. (109 mins.)
“ It's from director David Cronenberg so this one goes without saying. Pattinson is a heartthrob who seems to dislikes his role as such as much as any of the '60s and '70s matinee idols ( Newman, McQueen, Redford, Beatty) of the past so he'll likely embrace this departure with gusto. The trailer brings to mind the director's earlier films such as Videodrome, Naked Lunch and eXistenZ, where the poultice on society is ripped away to show a very sick host and a very healthy, metastasizing cancer growing within. ” - keithsim
Killing Them Softly (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
Jackie Cogan is an enforcer hired to restore order after three dumb guys rob a Mob protected card game, causing the local criminal economy to collapse. (97 mins.)
Director: Andrew Dominik
“ Andrew Dominik directed what I consider to be one of the greatest films of the last ten years, the period Western The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford so I'm keenly interested to see what he does reteaming with Brad Pitt in a more contemporary tale. The film was called "Cogan's Trade"--a much better title--after the novel by George V. Higgins, upon which it was based. Higgins also wrote "The Friends of Eddie Coyle" which became the Peter Yates film of the same name. ” - keithsim
Mud (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Two young boys encounter a fugitive and form a pact to help him evade the vigilantes that are on his trail and to reunite him with his true love. (130 mins.)
Director: Jeff Nichols
“ Jeff Nichols's third film reteams him with the incomparable Michael Shannon (want to watch an amazing performance, catch Shannon in Bug). Shannon's been in all three of Nichols's films, the other two being the much-lauded (perhaps overly-lauded) Sundance breakout hit Take Shelter and the earlier Shotgun Stories. Nichols was at Cannes last year with Shelter, taking home two Critics Week awards, one for Best Feature and the other the SACD Prize for Screenwriting. Nichols now seems to be a new favorite of the selection committee. ” - keithsim
Rust and Bone (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Put in charge of his young son, Alain leaves Belgium for Antibes to live with his sister and her husband as a family. Alain's bond with Stephanie, a killer whale trainer, grows deeper after Stephanie suffers a horrible accident. (120 mins.)
Director: Jacques Audiard
“ The pedigree for this film is pretty impressive. Helmed by Jacques Audiard, who also directed A Prophet, the 2010 Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, Rust & Bone stars Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts, from this last year's Oscar-nominated Bullhead. The plot is loosely based upon the short stories of Canadian Craig Davidson (that really does make you long for the days of nom de plumes, does it not?) and concerns the relationship between a killer whale trainer (Cotillard), who is also an amputee, and a bare-knuckle boxer (Schoenaerts). ” - keithsim
Holy Motors (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
From dawn to dusk, a few hours in the shadowy life of a mystic man named Monsieur Oscar. (115 mins.)
Director: Leos Carax
“ Eva Mendes plays what looks to be an extra in Federico Fellini's Juliet of the Spirits as she appears in Leo Carax's Holy Motors. Carax is best known for making the infamously expensive French film Lovers on the Bridge. During the pre-production of Bridge Carax originally had permission to film on location at the renowned Pont-Neuf bridge but delays caused the permits to lapse and Carax had to recreate the bridge and the surrounding Parisian buildings on a lake near Montpellier. Still, Carax's portrait of the two doomed lovers (one of whom, Denis Levant is in Holy) never flagged and they were nothing if not intriguing in their downward spiral. ” - keithsim
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A pair of young lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out to find them. (94 mins.)
Director: Wes Anderson
“ The trailer for Moonrise Kingdom makes it look like Wes Anderson is pulling a creative Benjamin Button, slowly reverting backwards in time. He's gone from the prep school smarty-pants-ness of Rushmore (with a brief flirtation with adult themes in The Royal Tennenbaums, The Darjeeling Limited, and Life Aquatic) and now back to elementary school with what appears to be a storyline cribbed from some recently rediscovered "Big Ideas" notepads of his from the fifth and sixth grade. Still, The Fantastic Mr. Fox was an entertaining, arch marvel so I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt. ” - keithsim
Like Someone in Love (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
In Tokyo, a young sex worker develops an unexpected connection with a widower over a period of two days. (109 mins.)
“ Abbas Kiarostami returns to Cannes (he was last there with the superb Certified Copy) with this film starring Japanese actors. Though little is known of the film at this time it appears to center on the relationship between a young woman (Rin Takanashi), who is prostituting herself to pay for her education and much, much older professor, who is her client. ” - keithsim
Lawless (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Set in Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, a trio of bootlegging brothers are threatened by a new special deputy and other authorities angling for a cut of their profits. (116 mins.)
Director: John Hillcoat
“ Director John Hillcoat has a penchant for gritty, rugged settings (The Road,The Proposition) and Lawless seems to fit that mold as well. Based upon Matt Bondurant's novel, The Wettest County in the World, about Bondurant's own moonshine-running grandfather and his brothers, the film has a stellar supporting cast. That may help you look past the fact that Shia La Beouf is the lead. ” - keithsim
Beyond the Hills (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
The friendship between two young women who grew up in the same orphanage; one has found refuge at a convent in Romania and refuses to leave with her friend, who now lives in Germany. (150 mins.)
Director: Cristian Mungiu
“ Every year during the Oscars the complaints about the selection process for Best Foreign Language Film ring out across the land but never with such righteous indignation and intransigence as in 2008 when Romanian Cristian Mungiu's 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days failed to get a nomination. It was particularly noticeable since the film had already won the Palme d'Or (essentially the Best Pic prize at Cannes) and the FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics) prize. Now, Mungui returns to Cannes and, much as with "4 Months," the writer/director chronicles the tale of two young women, though this time the girls are orphans who grew up together and now face the strain of growing apart. ” - keithsim
On the Road (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
Young writer Sal Paradise has his life shaken by the arrival of free-spirited Dean Moriarty and his girl, Marylou. As they travel across the country, they encounter a mix of people who each impact their journey indelibly. (124 mins.)
Director: Walter Salles
“ Brazilian director Walter Salles's Motorcycle Diaries followed Che Guevara on his life-altering journey through South America so it's only fitting that Salles tackle Jack Kerouac's novel that altered our ideas about journeying across America. Whereas similar themed films have been solely about Kerouac and his relationship with his idol/tormentor/inspiration Neal Cassady (Heart Beat), Salles focuses on the characters from the author's masterpiece, "On the Road," instead. Also stars that Twilight chick. ” - keithsim