“Under The Skin”
Okay, so what is the official deal with Jonathan Glazer’s long, long awaited third feature? Filming began in the fall of 2011, reshoots took place in the fall of 2012, and we’ll allow VFX work also caused some delays, but seriously, what else is now holding up the movie? We remain ever optimistic that the film is something completely unexpected and original, particularly following his one-two punch of “Sexy Beast” and “Birth.” Perhaps Glazer will return to Venice instead (where “Birth” premiered) to finally let us see Scarlett Johansson as a sexy, man-eating alien? Either way, it’s becoming unbearable waiting for this one.
“Only Lovers Left Alive”
A long-time presence on the Croisette with a Palme d’Or (the short “Cigarettes & Coffee III”), a Grand Prix (“Broken Flowers”), a Golden Camera (“Stranger Than Paradise”) and Best Artistic Contribution (“Mystery Train”) for his efforts, everyone figured Jim Jarmusch’s awesome-sounding vampire flick “Only Lovers Left Alive” was one of the dead locks for Cannes. We were wrong. Alas, we’ll have to wait to see Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as centuries-old bloodsucking lovers. Bummer. But Jarmusch being Jarmusch, there are no shortage of festivals coming up this year that will be eager to welcome him with open arms.
Another movie that seems to have been in production forever -- early footage was first shown way back in 2010 -- our anticipated return of “Waltz With Bashir” director Ari Folman to the south of France is not to be. Too bad because his latest, based on a sci-fi short story by Stanislaw Lem ("Solaris") tells the meta-story of an out-of-work actress who allows a major studio to scan her image and likeness and use it as they see fit, essentially making her irrelevant and unhireable for any future projects. Mixing live-action and animation, with a big-name cast that includes Robin Wright, Danny Huston, Paul Giamatti and Kodi Smit-McPhee, this sounds fantastically ambitious, but we’ll have to pause on being dazzled for the moment.
One of the overarching narratives to emerge so far (in the couple of hours since the press conference, that is) has been about the underrepresentation of women in the main competition, with only one making it in (which is one better than last year, but nowhere near the high of 2011's four). The imbalance is made all the more apparent by the fact that two of the highest-profile female directors in Claire Denis and Sofia Coppola, both Cannes alumnae, have had new films accepted, but in the Un Certain Regard sidebar. We can kind of understand it with Coppola's "The Bling Ring," which does look a bit frothy for the competition (not that frothiness always excludes), but Denis' film ending up here is a bit of a shock, and can't help but feel like a demotion. We very much hope it's not pointed, and we certainly don't want to advocate tokenism, but in a year when Jane Campion is heading the short film and Cinefondation jury, and with much talk about the strong showing from female directors at this year's Sundance, we'd have hoped for a bit more of an uptick.
One more we figured as a lock -- Steven McQueen's "Twelve Years A Slave" -- won't be here either. Recently stamped with a December 27th release, speculation in the past few weeks suggested it would make a fall festival premiere instead, and that seems to be the case.
But all in all, there are some delightful surprises, and some dubious disappointments here, to be sure. But of course, there is still a small chance of some of the excluded films getting a look in, as late additions, or in other areas of the competition for which the program has not yet been announced. For example, we really thought David Lowery's “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” would show up somewhere today, but it may turn up as part of Critics' Week or Directors' Fortnight.
So what do you think of the lineup so far? We have to say, inevitable absences aside, we're pretty excited for what's on offer come May. We'll be bringing you coverage of the Cannes festival for its duration (May 15th to 26th), and before then you can expect more announcements and news as we get closer. There's plenty of time still for a couple more of the kind of surprises that Cannes does so well. Share your thoughts on this year's lineup below. -- Jessica Kiang & Kevin Jagernauth