As one of the most highly anticipated film festivals on the planet -- the Olympics of cinema as it were -- each spring the looming arrival of the Cannes Film Festival line-up brings with it a near feeding frenzy of anticipation (except for those actually awaiting the summer tentpole season).
But the Cannes line-up which was announced this morning, is generally divided into two sections: 1) the pre-announcement speculation which always makes the festival sound like its going to have every titan of cinema on board and 2) the reality of the situation which is the slightly less awesome line-up announced this a.m. This generally leads to the thinking that "XYZ director/film got snubbed!" when its simply more of a case of the trades making much ado about nothing, and/or simply talking a certain film up too much.
Regardless, let's look at some "awol" filmmakers and what may have happened to their selections. And lastly, let's not forget that there are three remaining Cannes competition slots open, likely being saved for filmmakers that are trying to finish up on time. And while some of these could potentially snap up those few spots, most of them likely will not, here's why.
David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method"
The absence of this drama about the friendship, rivalry and love triangle between Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and a mentally ill patient -- Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender and Keira Knightley respectively -- was once mentioned in connection to Cannes, but its "omission" is easy to track. Cronenberg is Canadian and the Toronto International Film Festival generally gently pressures their homegrown talent to debut their wares at home (Atom Egoyan does not debut films outside of Toronto International Film Festival any longer for example). Be sure to expect Jason Reitman's "Young Adult" drama at TIFF as well, being that he is also a Canuck and has debuted all his features there so far.
Final Verdict For Potential Arrival At Cannes: No way
Wong Kar Wai's "The Grandmaster"
The notoriously slow and methodical Wong Kar Wai, somewhat akin to the Hong Kong version of Terrence Malick given his slow pace of shooting and editing films, famously delivered a dripping wet print of "2046" in 2004 and legend has it one of the last reels was still being shipped on a train while the first reel of the film was playing to audiences. His delivery was right down to the wire. Similarly, the filmmaker has been working on and seemingly toiling away at shooting his martial arts epic starring Tony Leung for what feels like forever. The film was delayed countless times and was still filming early into the new year in what appeared to be fits and starts. Rumored for Cannes, it soon became apparent there was no way the picture would be finished in time, with Wong Kar Wai still tinkering away. It's possible the film may arrive during the fall film festivals, but like Malick's incessant toying, we'll believe it when we actually see it.
Final Verdict For Potential Arrival At Cannes: Nope
Brilliante Mendoza's "Captured"
Filipino film director Brillante Mendoza has made a whopping ten films since 2005 and his 2009 picture "Kinatay" won the award for Best Director at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival despite the fact that half the audience walked out during each of its screenings. His latest stars that year's jury president Isabelle Huppert, geez, do we need to even go any further? The picture tells the true story of a French woman (Huppert) who worked for a humanitarian organization on Palawan Island in the Philippines only to be kidnapped by mistake along with a colleague, while transporting equipment to Puerto Princesa, by the Muslim extremist group Abu Sayyaf, who are fighting for Mindanao independence. So let's see, it can't be any worse than "Kinatay" which never even received the smallest kind of U.S. distribution, it features a beloved Cannes director and a beloved Cannes actress and jury head.
Final Verdict For Potential Arrival At Cannes: Hell yes. This will likely grab one of the third slots if unless it's not ready. Filming only wrapped in March so it's possible the film won't be done on time, but Mendoza is obviously quite fast and will have until mid-May to be ready for Cannes.
Alexander Payne's "The Descendants"
Some are asking why Payne's George Clooney starrer "The Descendants" is missing from the Cannes line-up, but frankly, the chances of it debuting at Cannes in the first place are slim. Fox Searchlight will already have its hands full with "The Tree of Life" and "Martha Marcy May Marlene" (which is also in competition) and since the film is already set for a December 16th bow in the U.S., it's Oscar-bound, so there's likely no way that Searchlight was letting it out of the bag this early (while many assume "Tree Of Life" is an Oscar shoo-in as well, that's actually not the case and it may be too experimental for the Academy, hence debuting the picture at Cannes). Toronto Film Festival seems like a smarter bet otherwise the buzz will be let out too soon.
Final Verdict For Potential Arrival At Cannes: Not a chance.
Micheal Haneke's "Love" (formerly known as "These Two")
Again, the 2009 Cannes festival rears its head once more with Austrian minster of cinematic fear Michael Haneke whose "The White Ribbon" won the Palme d'Or for best film that year. His latest essentially centers on the humiliation and pain of growing old. Fun stuff, right? Typical of Haneke to explore the misery of barely being able to keep yourself alive. The picture focuses on a cultured octogenarian married couple and retired music teachers (Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva). Their daughter (Isabelle Huppert), also a musician, lives abroad with her family, but then has to attend to her mother after a minor stroke leaves her paralyzed down one side of her body. "The love that binds this old couple will really be put to the test" is apparently the description so prepare for ugly, bitter resentment. Again, fun stuff. "Love" was one of the early films that Cannes director Thierry Frémaux was eyeing, but then there were discussions that the film wasn't quite ready.
Final Verdict For Potential Arrival At Cannes: Undoubtedly something the Cannes selection committee is waiting on. Whether it's ready on time is another story.
Yorgos Lanthimos' "Alps"
Greek filmmaker Lanthimos' pitch-black, twisted and disturbing/funny "Dogtooth" was the hit of the Un Certain Regard section winning the top prize there and with great reason. It announced the arrival of a filmmaker who turned into must-watch on only his second-length feature. His follow-up, "Alps," stars “Dogtooth” actress Aggeliki Papoulia, and chronicles "a group of people who agree to stand in for the lost loved ones of others, replicating their behavior and gestures, ostensibly to help with grieving.” Okay, whatever that means, but the director did say the film would be darker and more extreme than "Dogtooth" which is saying a lot.
Final Verdict For Potential Arrival At Cannes: There's a strong chance he very well may be one of the three Cannes is waiting for.