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CANNES 2009 - PREVIEW

SPICIER THAN IT LOOKS?
What with ageing enfant terrible Lars von Trier bringing his Antichrist to the Competition and Sam Raimi’s anticipated horror opus, Drag Me to Hell, in a midnight screening, the flavour of Festival de Cannes 2009 (May 13 – 24) could be spicier than the list of auteur regulars in the line up might suggest, argues Andrew L. Urban.

Having scoffed at Cannes festival director Thierry Fremaux’s choice of Pixar’s 3D animation, Up, as Opening Night Film, I am relieved to see the festival program of the other 51 films is more or less true to the spirit of old Cannes, with some spicy tidbits among the familiar fare from familiar filmmaking faces. Nothing wrong with the familiar faces, nor with 3D animation, but they all have their place, and I argue that the Festival de Cannes is more a place for discoveries and pushing the envelope. That’s why I welcome Lars von Trier, a familiar enough face (his 10th Festival) but one who is unpredictable and always challenging. He is one of the innovators, and whether he succeeds in getting to me with a particular film or not, he is a talent who should be showcased at Cannes.

Likewise Australia’s Jane Campion (her 4th); edgy and brave. Gaspar Noe is a resolute film agitator, as is Michael Haneke. And what will Hirokazu Kore-eda do with the inflatable doll love story, Air Doll, coming after films like the wry and disarming Lars and the Real Girl (d. Craig Gillespie, 2007), or the horror thriller, Love Object (d. Robert Parigi, 2004)?

In Samson & Delilah, the other Aussie in the Festival, Warwick Thornton (his 1st), provides Cannes with yet another look at Australia’s indigenous culture in the footsteps of Rolf de Heer’s Ten Canoes (2006 Un Certain Regard) and Bruce Beresford’s The Fringe Dwellers (1986 Competition). Thornton’s film will no doubt supercharge the international media with its sparse but powerful cinematic language.

Romanian Palme d’Or winner Cristian Mungiu is back (in Un Certain Regard) as a collaborator on Tales from the Golden Age, one of two Romanian films in the selection. Mungiu’s gritty winner, 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days suggests a fiery new talent is being nurtured; good for Fremaux. The other Romanian film, Police, Adjective, is by Corneliu Porumboiu, whose 12:08 East of Bucharest won the 2006 Golden Camera at Cannes (best first or second film in the selection).

And I’m hoping that films from under-represented countries like Colombia (The Wind Journeys, by Ciro Guerra), Thailand (Nymph, by the talented Pen-ek Ratanaruang), Portugal (To Die Like a Man, by Joao Pedro Rodrigues) and the Philippines (Manila, by Adolfo Alix Jr. & Raya Martin – not to be confused with our own Ray Martin!), will deliver the shocks and revelations that all good festivals need – not only to keep the audiences awake but to alert the world to the many amazing alternatives to mainstream fare.

CANNES 2009 FESTIVAL SELECTION:
OPENER
"Up," U.S., Pete Docter, Bob Peterson

CLOSER
"Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky," France, Jan Kounen

IN COMPETITION
"Bright Star," Australia-U.K.-France, Jane Campion
"Spring Fever," China-France, Lou Ye
"Antichrist," Denmark-Sweden-France-Italy, Lars von Trier
"Enter the Void," France, Gaspar Noe
"Face," France-Taiwan-Netherlands-Belgium, Tsai Ming-liang
"Les Herbes folles," France-Italy, Alain Resnais
"In the Beginning," France, Xavier Giannoli
"A Prophet," France, Jacques Audiard
"The White Ribbon," Germany-Austria-France, Michael Haneke
"Vengeance," Hong Kong-France-U.S., Johnnie To
"The Time That Remains," Israel-France-Belgium-Italy, Elia Suleiman
"Vincere," Italy-France, Marco Bellocchio
"Kinatay," Philippines, Brillante Mendoza
"Thirst," South Korea-U.S., Park Chan-wook
"Broken Embraces," Spain, Pedro Almodovar
"Map of the Sounds of Tokyo," Spain, Isabel Coixet
"Fish Tank," U.K.-Netherlands, Andrea Arnold
"Looking for Eric," U.K.-France-Belgium-Italy, Ken Loach
"Inglourious Basterds," U.S., Quentin Tarantino
"Taking Woodstock," U.S., Ang Lee

OUT OF COMPETITION
"The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," Canada-France, Terry Gilliam
"The Army of Crime," France, Robert Guediguian
"Agora," Spain, Alejandro Amenabar

UN CERTAIN REGARD
"Samson & Delilah," Australia, Warwick Thornton
"Adrift," Brazil, Heitor Dhalia
"The Wind Journeys," Colombia, Ciro Guerra
"Demain des l'aube," France, Denis Dercourt
"Irene," France, Alain Cavalier
"Air Doll," Japan, Hirokazu Kore-eda
"Independance," Philippines-France-Germany, Raya Martin
"Le Pere de mes enfants," France-Germany, Mia Hansen-Love
"Dogtooth," Greece, Yorgos Lanthimos
"Nobody Knows About the Persian Cats," Iran, Bahman Ghobadi
"Eyes Wide Open," Israel, Haim Tabakman
"Mother," South Korea, Bong Joon-ho
"The Silent Army," Netherlands, Jean van de Velde
"To Die Like a Man," Portugal, Joao Pedro Rodrigues
"Police, Adjective," Romania, Corneliu Porumboiu
"Tales from the Golden Age," Romania, Hanno Hofer, Razvan Marculescu, Cristian Mungiu, Constantin Popescu, Ioana Uricaru
"Tale in the Darkness," Russia, Nikolay Khomeriki
"Tzar," Russia-France, Pavel Lounguine
"Nymph," Thailand, Pen-ek Ratanaruang
"Precious," U.S., Lee Daniels

MIDNIGHT SCREENINGS
"A Town Called Panic," Belgium, Stephane Aubier, Vincent Patar
"Ne te retourne pas," France-Belgium-Luxembourg-Italy, Marina de Van
"Drag Me to Hell," U.S., Sam Raimi

SPECIAL SCREENINGS
"Petition," China, Zhao Liang
"L'epine dans le coeur," France, Michel Gondry
"Min ye," France-Mali, Souleyumane Cisse
"Jaffa," Israel-France-Germany, Keren Yedaya
"Manila," Philippines, Adolfo Alix Jr., Raya Martin
"My Neighbor, My Killer," U.S., Anne Aghion

Published May 7, 2009

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Samson & Delilah


Bright Star

BRIGHT STAR - OR NOT?
POSTCARD - MAY 19

CANNES 09 WINNERS

FEATURE FILM JURY

Isabelle Huppert (president), actress, France

Asia Argento, actress, director, screenwriter, Italy

Nuri Bilge Ceylan, director, screenwriter, actor, Turkey

Lee Chang-dong, director, author, screenwriter, South Korea

James Gray, director, screenwriter, U.S.

Hanif Kureishi, author, screenwriter, U.K.

Shu Qi, actress, Taiwan

Robin Wright Penn, actress, U.S.


Up


Anti Christ


Drag Me To Hell


Fish Tank


Inglorious Basterds


The Immaginarium of Doctor Parnassus







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