Monday, 23 May 2016

Manic Monday: Yes, we Cannes look forward to something!

Official Cannes 2016 Poster | Source: The Siver Times
Today's Monday does not only mean the beginning of a new week. No, it also signifies the end of one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world. As you probably know, the closing ceremony for this year's Cannes Film Festival took place yesterday. The awards have been handed out (you can find a complete list of all the winners here), the jury has spoken, the final goodbyes have been said.

However, the end of Cannes 2016 only marks the beginning of some exciting months for us moviegoers, since most films from this year's competition are bound to hit cinemas some time sooner or later this year.

So, in order to light up your - most certainly - dreadful start of the week, I'd like to cheer you up with my personal list of favourite Cannes movies which you can look forward to in the upcoming months.

I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach | UK, France | 100 min.)
© Wild Bunch | Source: The Playlist
Official Cannes Synopsis: Daniel Blake, 59, has worked as a joiner most of his life in Newcastle. Now, after a heart attack and nearly falling from a scaffold, he needs help from the State for the first time in his life. He crosses paths with a single mother Katie and her two young children, Daisy and Dylan. Katie’s only chance to escape a one-roomed homeless hostel in London has been to accept a flat in a city she doesn’t know some 300 miles away. Daniel and Katie find themselves in no-man’s land caught on the barbed wire of welfare bureaucracy as played out against the rhetoric of ‘striver and skiver’ in modern day Britain.

Ken Loach's film has - to, admittedly, much surprise - taken home the Palme d'Or yesterday. While critics have rated it from utterly brilliant and sadly topical to fairly conventional, yet powerful, only time will tell if I, Daniel Blake can win the hearts of a broader audience. I am looking forward to it. On the one hand, we pretty much know since John Osborne that the Brits know how to stage a good social drama or two. On the other hand, the synopsis hints not only at well needed social criticism, but also at a tale about a sweet, age-defying friendship.

Elle (Paul Verhoeven | France, Germany, Belgium | 130 min.)

Official Cannes Synopsis: Michèle seems indestructible. Head of a leading video game company, she brings the same ruthless attitude to her love life as to business. Being attacked in her home by an unknown assailant changes Michèle's life forever. When she resolutely tracks the man down, they are both drawn into a curious and thrilling game—a game that may, at any moment, spiral out of control.

To be honest, my main motivation to be excited for this film is the grand, the splendid, the magnificent Isabelle Huppert, who stars in the lead here. But critics have also praised the film for its exploration of the sexual exploitation of women, and have applauded it for its chlichéd, yet subversive handling of the rape narrative. Verhoeven (director of movies such as RoboCop, Starship Troopers or Basic Instinct), it is said, has created something truly controversial and yet wickedly entertaining here - and, additionally, I love to watch me a film, in which the leading lady, as an assault survivor, refuses to be victimised. Bring it on!

Forushande (Asghar Farhadi | Iran, France | 125 min.)  
© Amazon Studios | Source:
 Official Cannes Synopsis: Forced out of their apartment due to dangerous works on a neighboring building, Emad and Rana move into a new flat in the center of Tehran. An incident linked to the previous tenant will dramatically change the young couple’s life.

Asghar Farhadi's 2011 film A Separation has won the Oscar and a BAFTA for Best Foreign Language Film and introduced the Iranian director to a broader audience. This year at Cannes, with Forushande (The Salesman), Farhadi was able to win Best Screenplay, and his lead actor Shahab Hosseini, who also starred in A Separation, won the Best Actor award. The premise for The Salesman sounds intriguing, and it's always nice to have an alternative to the usual Hollywood fare that always comes our ways.

The Neon Demon (Nicolas Winding Regn | France, USA, Denmark | 110 min.)

Official Cannes Synopsis: When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will use any means necessary to get what she has in The Neon Demon, the new horror thriller from Nicolas Winding Refn.

As a huge fan of Nicolas Winding Refn's work, this is probably the film I look forward to the most. The trailer looks nothing short of stunning, the cast - including Elle Fanning, Christina Hendricks, Jena Malone and Keanu Reeves - seems promising and the L.A. fashinon/model industry at the centre of the story is bound to serve for some biting commentary. Refn is known to provoke and cause a stir. At Cannes, The Neon Demon was booed by critics - and this fact only makes me want to watch it more. 

US release: 24 June 2016  |  UK release: 8 July 2016 

American Honey (Andrea Arnold | UK, USA | 162 min.)
© Universal Pictures International | Source: A24 Films
Official Cannes Synopsis: Star (Sasha Lane), a teenage girl from a troubled home, runs away with a traveling sales crew who drive across the American Midwest selling magazine subscriptions door to door. Finding her feet in this gang of teenagers, one of whom is Jake (Shia LaBeouf), she soon gets into the group's lifestyle of hard-partying nights, law-bending days, and young love. 

With Fish Tank (2009), Andrea Arnold has gained critical acclaim and proven that she's a cinematic force to be reckoned with. Now, she's won the Jury Prize at Cannes. I, personally, applaud her for not only bringing a much valued female voice to the film bussines, but also for focusing on the life of teenage girls in her work. Apart from CW TV shows or questionable high school comedies, this hardly ever happens. So, kudos to you, Andrea! On a random note, some people even expect Shia LaBeouf to gain some Oscar buzz for his supporting stint in American Honey. Oh, what I would give to see good, old, crazy Shia dance down the Oscars red carpet next year...

Ah-ga-ssi (Park Chan-wook | South Korea | 144 min.)

Official Cannes Synopsis: 1930s Korea, in the period of Japanese occupation, a new girl (Sookee) is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress (Hideko) who lives a secluded life on a large countryside estate with her domineering Uncle (Kouzuki). But the maid has a secret. She is a pickpocket recruited by a swindler posing as a Japanese Count to help him seduce the Lady to elope with him, rob her of her fortune, and lock her up in a madhouse. The plan seems to proceed according to plan until Sookee and Hideko discover some unexpected emotions. 

To say that Park Chan-wook is one of the most exciting directors out there probably is an understatement. The man who has given us films such as Oldboy, Lady Vengeance or, most recently, Stoker, presents us with another movie that seems to perfectly unite mindfuck with beautiful, mesmerising imagery. The trailer for Ah-ga-ssi (The Handmaiden) is a feast for the eyes and hints at a story bound to lead us into the darker realms of human nature. I can't wait. ... But please refrain from making people eat any live octopi this time. Thank you very much.

Loving (Jeff Nichols | UK, USA | 123 min.)
© Focus Features | Source: Arkansas Times
Official Cannes Synopsis: "Loving" celebrates the real-life courage and commitment of an interracial couple, Richard and Mildred Loving, who married and then spent the next nine years fighting for the right to live as a family in their hometown. Their civil rights case, Loving v. Virginia, went all the way to the Supreme Court, which in 1967 reaffirmed the very foundation of the right to marry – making their love story an inspiration to couples everywhere.

Loving has generated lots of Oscar buzz during the last couple of weeks. The story of this real-life civil rights struggle could definitely charme Academy voters, and it could also be Jeff Nichols' break into a more mainstream kind of cinema. I'm absolutely looking forward to this because, again, I'm a huge fan of Nichol's work, because the story sounds perfectly intriguing and moving, and because Joel Edgerton is one of my favourite actors working today. The Aussie already has had some exciting past years carreer-wise but Loving could finally turn him into a household name. Ruth Negga, the female lead, has mostly appeared on TV screens so far. Her Cannes debut could change that soon, though. 

US release: 4 November 2016

That's my list, peeps. Let us know which Cannes movies you're looking forward to watching on the big screen in the comment section below.

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