The Shape of Things to Come - Cannes 2017

120 Beats Per Minute

As we await the opening ceremonies like a race horse waiting for the gate to open, or - more to the point - like a stock trader waiting for the opening bell at the stock exchange, we are the opposite of a dying person whose life passes before her eyes. We have the future of film passing before our eyes. Which unknown filmmaker will take a step forward to becoming a household name, at least in the households of cinéastes? And who will take home the many prizes that will be awarded in 12 days.

There are a lot of films to see in the upcoming days as the Cannes Film Festival unspools. While the question of what unknowns will we pay attention to when all is said and done can’t really be answered now (unless you read the publicists’ notes), we can look to the names we know to see what might excite us.

The official competition of the festival doesn’t boast any total unknowns, but there are a number of veterans - and a master or two - in the field. While I can’t say I’m looking forward to all of them, I am intrigued by many.

French director Robin Campillo, who made the touching film ‘Eastern Boys’ a few years back, is in the competition with ‘120 Beats Per Minute,’ which looks like a history of AIDS activitsts in France. Benny and Josh Safdie have made a previous trip to Cannes, but this is the first time they’ll be in the competition. They’re here with ‘Good Time,’ a crime caper starring Robert Pattinson, of the ‘Twilight’ series fame.

Sofia Coppola is back in the competition with her remake of ‘The Beguiled.’ She was previously in the competition with ‘Marie Antoinette,’ which drew lots of attention when it was booed - mostly for it’s take on French history, one would presume. Yorgos Lanthimos is back in the competition with his second film in a row; ‘The Lobster’ was in competition in 2015 and won the jury prize. (Coppola’s last film in Cannes, ‘Bling Ring,’ was relegated to Un Certain Regard.) Lanthimos’ latest film, ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’ is sure to be as strange as all his other films.

I’m excited to see Michel Hazanavicius’ competition film ‘Redoubtable,’ about a time in the life of New Wave icon Jean-Luc Godard. Not because I’m a fan of Hazanavicius’ films (I was not enamoured of ‘The Artist,’ as most of the rest of the world was), but because I can’t wait to see Louis Garrell play Godard. And I’m excited to see ‘Happy End,’ the latest film by - here’s the master filmmaker - Michael Haneke. Here because I’m pretty much a fan of Haneke, but also because I’m a fan of Jean-Louis Trintignant and will watch him in anything.

Other filmmakers that I like to follow on general principal, as well as their storytelling abilities are Noah Baumbach, Todd Haynes and Lynne Ramsey. Each is in Cannes with a new film: Baumbach’s ‘The Meyerowitz Stories’ centers on an artist (Dustin Hoffman) and his dysfunctional family (who include Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller). Todd Haynes’ ‘Wonderstruck’ seems to merge different stories from different times. Sounds very interesting and I can’t wait to see it. Lynne Ramsay will present ‘You Were Never Really Here,’ with Joaquim Phoenix in the lead role. As strange as he is, Phoenix is a wonderful actor. This is a great combination of talent.

Ruben Ostlund made such a splash with ‘Force Majeure,’ that talk is already starting about his latest film in the competition, ‘The Square.’ So it is a must see. And Hong Sang-soo is so prolific, that one has to rush to see ‘The Day After’ before he makes another film that will super cède this one.

Other celebrated filmmakers are making appearances outside the competition, so I’ll be standing in line at the Debussy Theater to see the latest films by Mathieu Almaric, here as a director again with ‘Barbara,’ which will open the Un Certain Regard section. Also in Un Certain Regard will be Laurent Cantet with ‘L’Atelier.’ Cantet’s work with non professionals is outstanding - he won the Palme d’Or in 2008 with his film “The Class.”

And further down the Croisette, Bruno Dumont and Claire Denis will show their new films. Dumont’s film ‘Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc’ is a must see for me. A movie about a saint? I’m on board. And Denis’ “Un Beau Soleil Interieur” is a must-see for me because, well, Claire Denis.

Many more discoveries will be made over these two weeks, but films by these bold face names are a good place to start.