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David Poland

By David Poland

Cannes List

As regular readers know, I don’t do Cannes.

Until now.

My feelings about the festival’s role on the domestic stage have not changed. However, as my focus on DP/30 continues to grow, the opportunity to dig into such a rich buffet makes a lot of sense for that purpose. And I certainly enjoy the notion of getting to some of these films first, to establish my own feelings, before they become part of what seems to be a worse case of altitude sickness on the part of media than any other fest in the world.

About half of the directors of competition films have already been captured in DP/30s. I look forward to talking to as many of them as possible again. Return engagements have become a great joy of this process. (The biggest negative response to an interview with Haneke, who I really liked a lot, was that I didn’t speak German and should have learned it to speak to the great man… and that I asked him about his early days in TV, which I found fascinating. I’ll try to do better this time.)

The Weinsteins bring utter insanity to Cannes this year in the form of Brad Pitt. They have Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly, which stars Pitt as an “enforcer”… which is the kind of role one would expect audiences to get very excited about. Also on their docket is the renamed Lawless (formerly The Wettest County In the World), from John Hillcoat, with a killer cast including Hardy, Pearce, Oldman, LaBeouf, Chastain, and Wasikowska.

Jeff Nichols, who will be at Ebertfest next week with Take Shelter (and Mike Shannon), comes to Cannes with an unsold film, Mud, starring McConaughey and Witherspoon, but apparently led by two teen unknowns.

Getting the shots of Kristen Stewart and Rob Pattinson together will be the #1 non-Pitt priority at the festival this year. He is the lead in the still-unsold Cosmopolis, from David Cronenberg, in what looks like it could be his ticket to a future past Twilight. And K-Stew is in the lovely and talented Walter Salles’ On the Road, also without US distribution. (This one is crazy loaded with former DP/30 interviewees, four of them multiple interviewees.) The commercial “problem” may well be that the leads, Sam Riley (who blew up in Control) and Garrett Hedlund (who led Tron: Legacy in late 2010) are the leads and even though both are beautiful actors, in a tough market for indies these days, distributors would be selling the supporting cast first. Salles also made the terrific The Motorcycle Diaries… which underperformed domestically. So… we shall see. (Hedlund stays in the 60s with the Coen Bros next film as well.)

Perhaps the biggest US surprise in the festival is The Paperboy. Lee Daniels, in his first post-Oscar-nomination film (and his second Cannes festival screening), leads with Zac Efron… yes, that Zac Efron. Great cast behind him… McConaughey (with multiple Cannes entries), Nicole Kidman, John Cusack, and Scott Glenn. It’s a Millennium/Nu Image, which to be honest, taints it a little. And you won’t need to read reviews to see how this film does. If it gets picked up at the fest, it’s probably quite good. If it ends up being distributed by the producer in the US, it’s probably not.

Of course, what really drives Cannes is the European film market and, increasingly, the high end of the Asian art cinema.

Audiard, Carax, Garrone, Loach, Renais, Reygadas, and Seidl are all familiar names on the continent. Kiarostami is a deity in this arena. South Koreans Im Sang-soo and Hong Sang-soo were both at Cannes in 2010. Sergei Loznitsa returns with his second non-doc feature, In The Fog. Cristian Mungiu (4/3/2) has had every feature he’s made at Cannes. Egyptian Yousry Nasrallah has had multiple films at the fest. And of course, Vinterberg and Dogma 95 was celebrated with The Celebration at Cannes, though this is his first time back in competition in the 14 years since then. And closer Claude Miller is back for the first time in 9 years.

But not a drop of truly new blood in competition this year.

I guess that’s the provenance of Un Certain Regard. But more on that later…

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14 Responses to “Cannes List”

  1. movieman says:

    A few journalists seem surprised that the new PT Anderson and Malick films aren’t going to Cannes.
    I’m more surprised Woody isn’t making the trip this year.
    While it’s disappointing that new movies by Wong Kar Wai and Olivier Assayas apparently aren’t ready in time, maybe they’ll show up on the fest circuit later this year.
    And I fully anticipate seeing PT’s newie world premiere at the NYFF–as opening or closing night.

  2. David, I do not wish to question your authority on the subject of box-office analysis; I’m just gonna ask a sincere question: did Motorcycle Diaries really underperform in the USA, being 11th on the top list of films not spoken in English? 16.8 million grossed by a Spanish-language picture without major stars in the cast?

  3. sanj says:

    DP – how many people have you lined up for interviews and how fast will you post them ? the Sundance 2012 dp/30’s should have been posted faster …

    i’d like to see the interviews outside / sunglight / natural lighting and try to get some behind the scenes video / pictures …

    is this festival more expensive for you than Telluride ?

  4. David Poland says:

    Gustavo… it’s one of those expectations vs realities things.

    That year, movies like Hotel Rwanda, Life Aquatic, and Garden State were all over $20m and the sense was that indies – especially one as good as The Motorcycle Diaries – could do that number and more.

    Plus, Y Tu Mama Tambien had done $14m for IFC a couple of years before, so a movie like this at Focus seemed like a lock to do a lot more and to be an awards movie.

    I think you are right to say the red mark is unfair. And had I spent another couple sentences tracking the work of Salles, I would have offered better context. But thinking like the buyers? It’s the context of $16m being okay, but not enough in which you see bigger indies like Focus and Searchlight and companies like those being shy when they should not be.

    Of course, I have no idea how good/great/not great the movie is. Haven’t seen it. Also don’t know whether the producers are holding out for a bigger deal. Etc.

  5. David Poland says:

    Movieman… NYFF has had one world premiere opener in the last 20 years. The Social Network.

    I expect The Master to do Venice/Telluride/Toronto. Unlike There Will Be Blood, they have an October release date on this one and they don’t have Sony’s marketing budget. It would be a little nuts to rely on NY to launch the film just before opening. It’s great for Manhattan, but not for the rest of the US.

  6. movieman says:

    …However, Dave, PT Anderson has a “relationship” with the NYFF stretching back to “Boogie Nights.”
    While it’s not inconceivable that Lincoln Center won’t have the “world premiere” (there’s always Venice, right?), it’s not inconceivable that they won’t.
    Either way–unless the movie’s a dog, which I’m pretty sure it ain’t–a NYFF berth is a lock.
    And a New York bow is a helluva lot more prestigious than “we’ll take any/everything but ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding'” TIFF.
    Also, I’d check on that “in the last 20 years” part. Off the top of my head I can think of at least a few NYFF titles–“About Schmidt,” “The Royal Tenenbaums,” etc.–that at least had their North American, if not “world,” premieres at Richard Pena’s block party.

  7. Bill_the_Bear says:

    As for closer Claude Miller…didn’t he die a few weeks ago?

  8. Ray Pride says:

    Mr. Miller was 70 and passed on April 4 after a long illness. Here is the NYTimes obit.

  9. David Poland says:

    Schmidt was at Cannes. And yes, Tennenbaums… though it didn’t open the fest.

    Prestige is not the issue of TIFF vs NYFF for a movie opening in October. TIFF gets a ton more non-NYC media.

    Again, The Social Network did premiere at NYFF with an Oct opening… but they also spent $25m or more opening the film.

    For the record, NONE of PTA’s films have premiered at NYFF. Hard 8 was at Sundance. Boogie Nights was at Toronto. Magnolia didn’t premiere at a fest. Punch Drunk was a Cannes. There Will Be Blood premiered at Fantastic Fest.

  10. waterbucket says:

    I’m excited to read the reviews for On The Road. Hopefully, Kristen Stewart didn’t ruin it.

  11. DiscoNap says:

    Why would the best actress of her generation (when she wants to be) ruin it?

  12. movieman says:

    What about “Being John Malkovich” in ’99?
    Or last year when “Hugo” sneak-previewed as a “work in progress”?
    And wasn’t “My Week With Marilyn” a premiere of sorts?
    Maybe I’m just an old fuddy-duddy who remembers how prestigious the NYFF was back in the day.
    After all, it’s the place that premiered “The Last Picture Show” and “Last Tango in Paris” in the good old days when movies really mattered, lol.

  13. SamLowry says:

    “best actress of her generation”

    Rather than laugh heartily, I’ll say instead that a “generation” these days that’s about 5 years. People have been waiting decades for a movie version of On The Road, and now there’s finally one…featuring an actress who will be passe 5 years from now, which will make the movie passe as well.

  14. cadavra says:

    Stewart won’t be passe. She’ll be playing the comatose sister of the new girl in town on “Vampire Diaries.”

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