Alas, the most prestigious film festival in the world has come around once again. Though the lineup seems strong, many were shocked by the absence of expected films by Brian de Palma, Claire Denis, Jennifer Kent, Olivier Assayas, and more. Making matters even more troubling was the much-publicized Netflix dispute which caused the festival to lose films by Alfonso Cuaron, Paul Greengrass, Jeremy Saulnier, and none other than Orson Welles himself. What festival-goers have been left with is a competition that includes some greats, but is mostly made up of director’s with less name recognition. Hopefully, this decision was made in the name of quality, rather than politics. Having said that, below are some of the films I’m most looking forward to seeing.
Arctic (Joe Penna)
After a rescue mission gone wrong, a man (Mads Mikkelsen) finds himself stranded in the Arctic, with little hope of another savior. Playing in the midnight section, viewers can hope for something a little gritty. Regardless, a Mikkelsen one-man show seems too good to pass up.
Ash is the Purest White (Jia Zhangke)
Watching Jia Zhangke’s Mountains May Depart at the 2015 festival was somewhat of a religious experience for me. It’s still the best film I’ve seen at the festival in my three years attending. For Ash is the Purest White, Jia one again reenlists his wife, the brilliant Zhao Tao as his leading lady. Though she won’t be dancing to Go West by Pet Shop Boys in this one. Zhao plays a woman released from prison, incarcerated five years earlier for a violent act committed in an act of protection for her mobster lover.
Burning (Lee Chang-Dong)
Lee’s Secret Sunshine and Poetry are two of the greatest films of the Korean New Wave, which automatically makes Burning a must see. Making matters even more exciting is The Walking Dead star Steven Yeun in the leading role. I’m trying to go in mostly blind to this one, but I won’t be surprised if it ends up being one of the most highly lauded films of the festival.
Climax (Gaspar Noe)
Gaspar Noe. Isn’t that enough? The provocateur delighted Cannes’ midnight audience with his tongue in cheek (or some other place) 3D extravaganza LOVE back in 2015. As expected, the centerpiece of that film was a fountain of ejaculation, launching directly in the faces of the audience. This makes the titling of his latest film – Climax – that much more delicious. What will Noe pull out of his hat this time? Or perhaps, can viewers expect him to unleash something more profound? Officially, all we know about the film is its tagline: Birth and death are extraordinary experiences. Life is a fleeting pleasure.
Gotti (Kevin Connolly)
Okay, I’m talking from a place of guilty pleasure with this one. Two of my favorite Cannes experiences were watching the first press screenings for Sea of Trees and The Last Face – arguably two of the worst films to screen in competition in the history of the festival. So yes, I think Gotti is going to a mess. With John Travolta as the infamous mob boss, viewers can hopefully expect something fun and schlocky. It’s still unclear whether or not the film will even screen for press, but I’ve got my fingers crossed.
The House That Jack Built (Lars von Trier)
After being deemed “persona non-grata” following some poorly received jokes during the Cannes 2013 Melancholia press conference, Lars Von Trier returns. Since then von Trier cranked out two versions of his two-part film Nymphomaniac. I’ll be one of few to stand up and cheer to the greatness of Part 2 of his Director’s Cut as some of his best work. With free rein, von Trier showed us that he was even more twisted than we thought. A graphic depiction of Joe’s (Charlotte Gainsbourg) home abortion made Gainsbourg’s genital mutilation in Trier’s 2011 film Antichrist look like child’s play. Rumors say that his latest, the story of a serial killer played by Matt Dillon, is his most shocking yet. This film almost didn’t make it to the festival, yet I imagine it will be one of the most buzzed about titles on the Riviera.
Solo: A Star Wars Story (Ron Howard)
Do I really have to explain this one? Aside from my Star Wars fandom, my interest in Solo is not far removed from my need to see Gotti. It all leads to one question; Can they pull it off? After the mid-shoot firing of directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, and their quick replacement by Ron Howard, Star Wars fans are wondering if this one is going to work. Will Howard be able to salvage the film? Or will he be able to save the Star Wars spinoff series? Nevertheless, the stakes are high and the film will make a killing regardless of how it comes out.
Related Topics: Film Festivals