Early Rumblings from Cannes

The Daily — Mar 21, 2019
Leonardo DiCaprio in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

The lineup for the seventy-second edition of the Cannes Film Festival won’t be announced until next month, but there’ll be plenty of speculation over the coming weeks as to what’s in and what’s out. The Hollywood Reporter’s Gregg Kilday and Pamela McClintock are so sure that Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will see its premiere on the Croisette that they’re reporting on it as a done deal. They even suggest that a date has been set: May 21, “exactly twenty-five years to the day” after Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction premiered at Cannes and went on to win the Palme d’Or in 1994.

Kilday and McClintock do note that a spokesman for Sony has denied that the festival’s even offered an invitation. But IndieWire’s Zack Sharf has checked in with Cannes director Thierry Frémaux, who’s made it clear that, while he’d love to have Hollywood in the lineup, Tarantino is still “editing [and] working hard to be ready” on time. Set in Los Angeles in 1969, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a television star trying to break into movies, Brad Pitt as his stunt double, Al Pacino as his agent, and Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate. For those curious as to how crucial Tate’s murder at the hands of the Manson Family will be to the story, there’s little to go on in the new trailer.

While the trailer’s been a hit on social media, Tarantino has also been taking some heat over the past few days. In the run-up to a double feature screening this week at the New Beverly, the repertory theater he runs in Los Angeles, he’s written a piece for the theater’s blog. Tarantino argues that Robert Aldrich’s Ulzana’s Raid (1972), “a war film about a giant nationalistic military machine battling a guerrilla army it can’t comprehend,” is “one of the greatest westerns” of the 1970s. John Ford’s Fort Apache, on the other hand, is shot through with “jingoistic white supremacy,” which, he argues, “was clear even in 1948 when the movie was released. American (white) audiences not only didn’t care, for the most part they agreed.”

Tarantino has been railing against Ford for years, and the most level-headed and respectful rebuttal remains the piece that Kent Jones wrote for Film Comment in the summer of 2013. “The mistake has always been to look for the paternalistic, find it in Ford’s work, and then make the leap that it is merely so,” Jones wrote. “If there’s another film artist who went deeper into the painful contradictions between solitude and community, or the fragility of human bonds and arrangements, I haven’t found one. To look at Stagecoach or Rio Grande or The Searchers and see absolutely nothing but evidence of the promotion of Anglo-Saxon superiority is to look away from cinema itself, I think.”

But back to Cannes. Lineup predictions are a staple of the trades and other movie news outlets this time of year, and so far, we’ve seen rundowns from Fabien Lemercier at Cineuropa, Melanie Goodfellow in Screen, Nancy Tartaglione and Andreas Wiseman at Deadline, and Scott Roxborough, Alex Ritman, and Patrick Brzeski in the Hollywood Reporter. The roundup of fifty titles at IndieWire is more of a wish list than a forecast.

Scanning these lists, we know now that we can already scratch off a few titles. On Monday, Variety’s Elsa Keslassy and Matt Donnelly reported that Netflix will not be sending any films to the festival. There appear to be two reasons. First, while “ongoing talks between the two sides have been friendly,” they haven’t yet found a way around French theater owners’ insistence that a film can only be streamed three years after its theatrical release. Second, it seems that none of Netflix’s contenders—Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, Steven Soderbergh’s The Laundromat, Noah Baumbach’s mystery project, David Michôd’s The King, and Josh and Benny Safdie’s Uncut Gems—would be “festival-ready” by opening day, May 14.

Tartaglione and Wiseman are hearing about another handful of films that likely won’t make it, including James Gray’s Ad Astra, Benedict Andrews’s Against All Enemies, and Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die. But hopes are high across the board for Pedro Almodóvar’s Pain and Glory, Terrence Malick’s Radegund, Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s Ahmed, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria, Ken Loach’s Sorry We Missed You, Ira Sachs’s Frankie, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s To the Ends of the Earth, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, Bruno Dumont’s Jeanne, Robert Eggers’s The Lighthouse, Jessica Hausner’s Little Joe, Corneliu Porumboiu’s Canary Islands, and Hirokazu Kore-eda’s first film shot outside of Japan, The Truth, starring Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, and Ethan Hawke.

Kore-eda’s Shoplifters, which premiered in Cannes last year, won best picture at the thirteenth Asian Film Awards this past weekend. Other winners from the Cannes 2018 lineup are Lee Chang-dong, taking best director for Burning, and Jia Zhangke, winner of the best screenplay award for Ash Is Purest White.

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