This year’s Palme d’Or contenders, from heard-of-iest to what’s-it-called-again-iest

Friday May 6th 2011


I don’t know how I’ve done it but somehow I’ve managed (on here if not on Twitter) to avoid mentioning that I’M GOING TO CANNES THIS YEAR. I’ve never been to a film festival outside of the UK before and I hear it’s quite a good one. It has Woody Allen and stuff.

I set sail for the Côte d’azur (via Easyjet) at some hideously early hour on Sunday morning, so I thought I ought to hurry up and get acquainted with the films ‘in competition’ at this year’s fest – even the ones that aren’t The Tree of Life. Here are my findings:


1. THE TREE OF LIFE
While Leeds-based young mums now have an indefinite wait for their first Malick injection in 6 years, members of the ‘elite’ like me can look forward to catching it with the man himself next week. And come on, it’s going to be great, isn’t it? Please tell me it is.


2. MELANCHOLIA
Loveable scamp Lars ‘von’ Trier returns to the Croisette yet again this year, with his wedding-at-the-end-of-the-world movie Melancholia. And as ever, he’ll be eager to cause a bit of controversy while he’s there, possibly by calling the jury a bunch of stinky pooheads.


3. THE SKIN I LIVE IN
Pedro Almodóvar (of ‘I really should have seen more of Pedro Almodóvar’s films’ fame) offers up this clumsily-titled thriller about ‘a plastic surgeon on the hunt for the men who raped his daughter’. And it’s got Antonio Banderas in it, from Philadelphia.


4. WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
The sole British entry in the line-up, Lynne Ramsay’s adaptation of that book everyone was reading on the tube in 2005, stars Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly as the parents of a troubled teen played by (hooray!) Ezra Miller from Afterschool, who I love more than air.


5. SLEEPING BEAUTY
Everyone keeps going on about the trailer for Sleeping Beauty on Twitter, but I’m avoiding it because it looks a bit spoilery. Still, that hasn’t stopped me getting completely overexcited about this erotic thriller in which Emily Browning plays a prostitute. Again.


6. THE KID WITH A BIKE
I’ve never actually seen a Dardenne Brothers film, but I do know that they are important and stuff because they’ve won the Palme d’Or twice before and their names always pop up on trendy Tumblr blogs. Plus, this new one’s only 87 minutes long and I’d like to see you argue with that.


7. DRIVE
I’m not saying I was skim-reading the line-up and skipping all the films with foreign-sounding directors when compiling this list but I did have to re-arrange a few things when I noticed that the new ‘Nicolas Winding Refn’ film actually has Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan in it.


8. THIS MUST BE THE PLACE
Sean Penn In Drag On Road Trip To Find Nazi. Sold.


9. HARA-KIRI: DEATH OF A SAMURAI
Wouldn’t you know it? You pop to the corner shop to buy some Jaffa Cakes and a Diet Irn Bru and by the time you come back, Takashi Miike has made another movie. This one’s about a poverty-stricken samurai who seeks permission from a feudal lord to kill himself.


10. ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA
Ten films in, and I’m starting to feel slightly out of my depth. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is the new one from Nuri Bilge Ceylan, who I’m led to believe is quite a big deal. He made Climates and Uzak and stuff like that and seems to pop up at Cannes every year or two. </informative>


11. HOUSE OF TOLERANCE
Bertrand Bonello wot made The Pornographer is up to his old tricks with this story of a Chelsea-grinned prostitute working in a Parisian brothel at the turn of the century. It stars Hafsia Herzi from DULLEST MOVIE EVER MADE La Graine et Le Mulet but don’t hold that against it.


12. THE SOURCE
The Concert director Radu Mihaileanu gets his first shot at the Palme d’Or this year with a comedy about ‘a village where women threaten to withhold sexual favours if their men refuse to fetch water from a remote well’. Back to cars and football then, lads. Am I right? AM I RIGHT?


13. FOOTNOTE
The guy who did Beaufort has done another one and this one is about two professors at a Jerusalem university who compete for a prestigious award of some kind. The twist? They are in fact father and son. And Betsy’s been dead for ten years, but you already knew that.


14. THE ARTIST
I don’t really understood what those OSS 117 films are, but it’s nice to see their director, Michel Hazanavicius, hitting the Croisette for the first time with a genuinely interesting concept. The Artist is about a star of silent movies, and it’s 1.33:1, in black and white, and silent.


15. LE HAVRE
All this list is doing now is illustrating how little I know about world cinema. Le Havre is the new one from Aki Kaurismäki (probably important) and it’s about the relationship between a shoeshiner and an immigrant boy. Sounds talky.


16. POLISS
French actress-turned-director Maïwenn may have 50% less words in her name than your average filmmaker, but as director, writer and star of gritty crime drama Poliss, at least she gets her name in the credits a few extra times. And the film looks alright, too.


17. WE HAVE A POPE
Italian director Nanni Moretti won a Palme d’Or ten years ago for The Son’s Room. Now he’s trying again (just because he can) with this story of an unwilling future pope. It’s a comedy which is nice – most of the films on this list are on a bit of a woe tip.


18. MICHAEL
This psychological drama about child disappearances is the first film from Markus Schleinzer, better known as Michael Haneke’s regular casting director. Only time will tell what the jury make of his solo effort once they ‘cast’ their eyes on his directorial debut. Kill me. Kill me now.


19. HANEZU
The new film from Japanese director Naomi Kawase is a bit of a mystery. Even its official synopsis reads more like sixth form poetry: ‘their tale continues a story of the ages, representing the uncountable souls that have accumulated in this land’. Yeeeeaaaahh mannnnn, deeeeeeeep.


20. PATER
So basically, director Alain Cavalier and actor Vincent Lindon sit around talking to each other or pretending to be other people or something and I don’t care and I just want this list to fucking end already…

See you on the Croisette!