Cannes Film Festival highlights

Woody Allen, Pixar and Cate Blanchett will all be making an appearance

Irrational Man
The new film from Woody Allen stars Emma Stone (returning after Woody’s last, Magic in the Moonlight) and Joaquin Phoenix, working with Allen for the first time. Phoenix plays a philosophy professor whose life takes an existential turn when he enters into a relationship with his student (Stone).

The Tale of Tales
The Italian filmmaker behind Gomorrah and Reality – Matteo Garrone – brings together an international cast including Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel and John C Reilly for this new spin on an Italian fairy-tale. At the Cannes launch, festival director Thierry Frémaux compared the style of the film to Garrone’s late, great compatriot Federico Fellini. The film will compete for the Palme d’Or.

The Lobster
Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos caught our eye in 2009 with Dogtooth, a deliciously dark and comic parable of family life. Now in the running for his first Palme d’Or, he works with Rachel Weisz, Colin Farrell and an assortment of other stars for this sci-fi tale about a future where single people must find a mate within 45 days or be turned into wild animals.

My Mother
Italian director Nanni Moretti has tasted Cannes Film Festival success before, with 2001’s The Son’s Room. His latest tells of a filmmaker who is working on a movie with an American star and is struggling to hold her life together away from the film’s set.

Louder than Bombs

Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier (Reprise, Oslo, and August 31st) moves into English-language filmmaking with this drama about a war photographer (Isabelle Huppert). An exhibition of photographs after her death initiates the discovery of secrets from her past by her husband (Gabriel Byrne) and two sons.

Dheepan
French director Jacques Audiard makes films designed to wrestle you to the ground with their heavily emotional masculinity (A Prophet, Rust and Bone). His latest film is the story of a Tamil fighter who flees Sri Lanka and ends up working on the edges of the French capital. As Cannes artistic director Thierry Frémaux pointed out, Dheepan features no known actors and remains a working title (so hold off on the pizza jokes for now).

The Assassin
Chinese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien is a Cannes regular, and his The Assassin sits in competition for the Palme d’Or. It marks an unexpected shift into martial-arts territory and is based on an eighth-century legend about a young girl who is kidnapped by nuns and learns to defend herself using Kung-Fu and magic tricks.

Amy

When London’s great soul singer Amy Winehouse died of an overdose in 2011, a documentary about her life, work and decline was inevitable. It could have been a trashy, exploitative exposé – but thanks to British director Asif Kapadia, whose Senna was one of the most impressive documentaries of recent years, that’s no longer a worry. The film centres on interviews with Winehouse’s family and close friends. Expect to shed tears.

Mad Max: Fury Road
Max is back! He may have a different face – British star Tom Hardy has stepped into Mel Gibson’s scuffed desert boots – but expect this new Mad Max movie to hew close to the template set by director George Miller’s 1979 original: mayhem, mutants and murder on the roads. This time around, Max is hired to chaperone a bus full of terrified women through the outback, with a pack of petrolhead crazies on their trail and Charlize Theron in support.

Carol

This is perhaps the film we’re looking forward to most in this year’s Cannes competition. Carol marks the long-awaited return of director Todd Haynes, who hasn’t released a film in cinemas since 2007’s I’m Not There. Adapted from the Patricia Highsmith novel The Price of Salt, Carol stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara as two working women in 1950s New York who fall under societal scrutiny. There’s surely no better director for this material than Haynes, whose eye for period detail and the nuances of social interaction is unparalleled.

Inside Out

One of this year’s most high profile out-of-competition slots goes to the animated movie from Up and Monsters, Inc. director, Pete Docter. Bucking Pixar’s recent trend for sequels and adaptations, it’s an original story, and higher than high-concept pitch, exploring the inner workings of a young girl’s mind, in which her different emotions – Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust – are represented as cartoon figures constantly bickering for dominance. This family film promises much and is due out in cinemas here on June 16.

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