As with Sundance earlier on this year I'm going to go through the various competitions and write up my picks to look out for. There's quite a lot to be excited about, particularly in the Un Certain Regard section of the festival, which always throws up some quirky treats (such as the extraordinary Dogtooth). So here's what makes my selection, plus a few other films to be aware of:
Opening film - Robin Hood, Ridley Scott
Dir Mike Leigh
Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton
I must admit I've never seen a Mike Leigh film (gulp), but he is a very renowned filmmaker, and British, so I'd thought I'd add this in my picks. The synopsis is very vague, sounding as though we follow the trials and fortunes of a family/group of people over the course of a year (obviously a very important year!) and observe how individuals and relationships change. I'll need to see the trailer before I decide whether it's the kind of film I would want to watch, but it's certainly one of the most anticipated films of this year's festival.
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Dir Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Thanapat Saisaymar, Natthakarn Aphaiwonk, Geerasak Kulhong
I think this film sounds really interesting - a man on his death bed who is cared for by the ghost of his wife, visited by his son in non-human form, and explores his past lives in order to find answers for his present situation. This film could be dreamy, imaginative and deeply touching - let's just hope it's all of those things! It was developed following a short about the character Uncle Boonmee which was released last year.
Dir Kornél Mundruczo
Rudolf Frecska, Kitty Csikos, Kornél Mundruczo
A modern re-telling of the Frankenstein story from the director of last year's Delta. It sees young Rudi who was adopted at birth return to his true family looking for love after years spent in an institution, only to find rejection. And his method for coping isn't exactly normal... An intriguing film this one - it looks dark and disturbing, but also very clever. Something to definitely seek out later.
Dir Im Sangsoo
Do-yeon Jeon, Jung-Jae Lee
Quite excited by this one! Perhaps it's because it's one of the few films I've picked out as sounding good that actually has a trailer to back itself up, and the trailer (below) looks sexy, dark and beautifully shot - a style I'm beginning to associate with all Korean films. Apparently it's a re-make of a 1960s Korean film of the same name, and unlike all the negative bashing you get when a film is remade in the Western world, there's a general buzz of good feeling about this 2010 version. I think it looks just up my street - angst with blood!
Un Certain Regard
Dir Derek Cianfrance
Michelle Williams, Ryan Gosling
We all know about this one! The only film in my selection that screened at Sundance earlier in the year. I shouldn't really have put it in again, but it is a goodie :-P. Also the first properly accessible clip has emerged from the film - and you can watch it below. Still no trailer yet but it's sure to follow. The clip is particularly melodramatic and shows what appears to be two people who are tied to each other and not sure how to control their intense feelings - should be well conveyed by two fine actors.
Dir Hideo Nakata
Aaron Johnson, Imogen Poots, Matthew Beard
Now here's something I didn't realise until a few moments ago as I was looking up background to the film - this is directed by the guy who made Ringu and Dark Water! So why he's doing a British teenie thriller is a bit odd, I find. Nevertheless this looks immense - especially as the synopsis reads one way, and then you look at the pictures coming out from the finished piece and it suddenly looks like The Shining. This is the first of two films I'm hyping that focuses on the danger and manipulations of the online world, and the British connection means it's getting a lot of attention over here. I'm really looking forward to this, it has some great little actors in such as Imogen Poots and a look that's refreshingly un-British. There is some form of 'trailer' doing the rounds on You Tube, but it's fairly shabby so I haven't included it here - best wait until the official one is released. But if you want to get an idea of the story (and tone) then go seek it out.
Dir Xavier Dolan
Monia Chokri, Xavier Dolan, Niels Schneider
At the risk of sounding a tad pretentious... I LOVE French Canadian cinema! I find it so quirky, and whether I've just been very lucky or not, have found that the subject matter for their films is always right up my alley - for example West Of Pluto last year at the LIFF. So I really love the look of this film: written, directed and starring Xavier Dolan (who's younger than me!) about a ménage a trios (literally). The short trailer below looks very French indeed - a passion extravaganza! Let's hope I get to see it one day...
Lights Out (Simon Werner a Disparu...)
Dir Fabrice Gobert
Laurent Capelutto, Ana Girardot, Arthur Mazet
This reminds me of a film I mentioned in the last preview called West Of Pluto, but seems to have a much more sinister edge to it - a murder mystery that involves high school teenagers in the suburbs of Paris. Teenagers are always excellent protagonists in film (adults are so borrrrring) and this has a nice suspense-filled plot drawing me in. Not unlike Pretty Little Liars, eh? But French!
Dir Manoel De Oliveira
Luis Miguel Cintra, Pilar Lopez De Ayala
This caught my eye just because the premise sounds so original: a man brought in to take the final photograph of dead Angelica falls in love with her as she appears real and alive through his camera lens. Yup this is going to be deliciously crazy. I really like the title too - it puts me in mind of a ghost story, or an odd, unhinged tale ala Roald Dahl.
Out of Competition
Dir Gregg Araki
Thomas Dekker, Juno Temple, Haley Bennett
I thought this sounded weirdly entertaining and appealing - and then I looked up who the director was. He was responsible for Nowhere and The Doom Generation! Nowhere was one of the most bizarre films I have ever seen in my days, and I don't think his style has changed very much in the last 13 years. Unfortunately Nowhere while being completely bonkers also wasn't very good, so I'm hoping that maybe his scripts have improved! Everything he makes already has the tag 'cult status' written all over them, and whatever happens in Kaboom will be very weird indeed. Possibly with aliens. I'll wait and see with this one!
Dir Gilles Marchand
Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet, Louise Bourgoin
The second of my picks which explores the pressing and emerging dangers of the online world and the darker side of the internet. I think this sounds very promising: a sinister take on a programme like Second Life, and a new interpretation on the snuff movie format. As well as my preview this film has been getting mentions elsewhere, so the generating buzz must be backed up by the potential of an intense, engaging film. And France always gives the best thrills.
Dir Woody Allen
Naomi Watts, Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins
I'm still relatively new to Woody Allen, having only seen a handful of his more recent films, but when he produces a goodie (such as Matchpoint which is one of my favourites ever) he's extremely watchable and funny. When he gets it wrong however (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) it's self indulgent boring toss. So not sure what pile You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger will fall into, but I really like Naomi Watts and Josh Brolin so that's a positive sign. Here's a clip below. Bound to receive huge amounts of attention.
Dir Julie Bertuccelli
Marton Csokas, Morgana Davies, Charlotte Gainsbourg
This looks to be a really touching film about a family grieving over the loss of a father and an eight year old girl believing she can still stay in touch with him because he whispers to her through the tree in the back garden. Based on a book, the focus will be mainly on characters and particularly the mother-daughter relationship and a little girl struggling to come to terms with potentially having a new dad whilst her other one is still very much alive for her. It's going to make me cry buckets, isn't it?
Updates on screenings, reviews and prize announcements as they come. There's some really interesting participants this year - some films to really get excited about in the coming months. Commence!