If I Were at Cannes …

How could I call this a film blog and make no mention of the currently running Festival de Cannes, unarguably the most important festival of them all? Although I’d love to report directly from the south of France, I’m not. (Some day!) But here are 10 films I’d try to see if I were there …

(All images and synopses are courtesy of festival-cannes.com.)

The Artist

Hollywood, 1927. George Valentin is a silent movie superstar. The advent of the talkies will sound the death knell for his career and see him fall into oblivion. For young extra Peppy Miller, it seems the sky’s the limit—major movie stardom awaits.

Director: Michel Hazanavicius

Screenwriter: Michel Hazanavicius

Cast: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, Missi Pyle

Country: France

Drive

Drive is the story of a Hollywood stunt driver by day, a loner by nature who moonlights as a top-notch getaway driver-for-hire in the criminal underworld. He finds himself a target for some of LA’s most dangerous men after agreeing to aid the husband of his beautiful neighbor, Irene. When the job goes dangerously awry, the only way he can keep Irene and her son alive is to do what he does best—Drive.

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Screenwriter: Hossein Amini

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks, Albert Brooks, Oscar Isaac

Country: USA

Habemus papam

Following the death of the pope, the Conclave meets to elect his successor. A cardinal is chosen who seems unable to bear the weight of such a responsibility. Is it anxiety? Is it depression? Does he feel inadequate? The faithful are waiting for the new pope to appear on the balcony in St. Peter’s Square. The world is on tenterhooks, while in the Vatican they seek ways to come through the crisis.

Director: Nanni Moretti

Screenwriter: Nanni Moretti

Cast: Michel Piccoli, Nanni Moretti, Jerzy Stuhr, Renato Scarpa, Franco Graziosi, Margherita Buy, Dario Cantarelli

Countries: Italy, France

Hearat shulayim (Footnote)

Footnote is the story of a great rivalry between a father and son. Both eccentric professors, they have dedicated their lives to their work. The father seems a stubborn purist who fears the establishment. His son, Uriel, appears to strive on accolades, endlessly seeking recognition.

But one day, the tables turn. The two men switch places when the father learns he is to be awarded the most valuable honor one can receive. His desperate need for recognition is betrayed, his vanity exposed. Uriel is torn between pride and envy. Will he sabotage his father’s glory?

Footnote is the story of insane competition, the admiration and envy for a role model, bringing father and son to a final, bitter confrontation.

Director: Joseph Cedar

Screenwriter: Joseph Cedar

Cast: Shlomo Baraba, Lior Ashkenazi, Alisa Rosen, Alma Zak, Micah Lewensohn, Yuval Scharf, Nevo Kimchi

Country: Israel

Melancholia

Justine and Michael are celebrating their marriage at a sumptuous party in the home of her sister and brother-in-law. Meanwhile, the planet, Melancholia, is heading towards Earth …

Director: Lars von Trier

Screenwriter: Lars von Trier

Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, Stellan Skaarsgård, Alexander Skaarsgård, John Hurt, Charlotte Rampling, Udo Kier

Countries: Denmark, Sweden, France, Germany

La piel que habito (The Skin I Live In)

Ever since his wife was burned in a car crash, Dr. Robert Ledgard, an eminent plastic surgeon, has been interested in creating a new skin with which he could have saved her. After 12 years, he manages to cultivate a skin that is a real shield against every assault.

In addition to years of study and experimentation, Robert needed a further three things: no scruples, an accomplice, and a human guinea pig. Scruples were never a problem. Marilia, the woman who looked after him from the day he was born, is his most faithful accomplice. And as for the human guinea pig …

Director: Pedro Almodóvar

Screenwriter: Pedro Almodóvar

Cast: Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Marisa Paredes, Jan Cornet, Roberto Álamo, Blanca Suárez, Eduard Fernández

Country: Spain

Sleeping Beauty

Lucy, a young university student, takes a job as a Sleeping Beauty to fund her studies. She goes to sleep. She wakes up. And it’s as if those hours never existed …

Director: Julia Leigh

Screenwriter: Julia Leigh

Cast: Emily Browning, Rachael Blake, Ewen Leslie, Peter Carroll

Country: Australia

La source des femmes (The Source)

The story takes place in current times, in a small village somewhere between North Africa and the Middle East. The women fetch water from a mountaintop spring in the blazing sun. They’ve done that since the beginning of time. Leila, a young bride, urges the women to launch a love strike: no more cuddling, no more sex until the men run water into the village.

Director: Radu Mihaileanu

Screenwriter: Alain-Michel Blanc

Cast: Leïla Bekhti, Hafsia Herzi, Biyouna, Hiam Abbass, Saleh Bakri, Sabrina Ouazani, Mohamed Majd

Countries: France, Morocco, Belgium, Italy

The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life is the impressionistic story of a Midwestern family in the 1950s. The film follows the life journey of the eldest son, Jack, through the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years as he tries to reconcile a complicated relationship with his father. Jack finds himself a lost soul in the modern world, seeking answers to the origins and meaning of life while questioning the existence of faith.

Director: Terrence Malick

Screenwriter: Terrence Malick

Cast: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain, Hunter McCracken

Country: USA

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Eva puts her ambitions and career aside to give birth to Kevin. The relationship between mother and son is difficult from the very first years. When Kevin is 15 , he does something irrational and unforgiveable in the eyes of the entire community. Eva grapples with her own feelings of grief and responsibility. Did she ever love her son? And how much of what Kevin did was her fault?

Based on the Winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction.

Director: Lynne Ramsay

Screenwriter: Lynne Ramsay

Cast: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller, Ashley Gerasimovich

Country: United Kingdom

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