The 62nd Cannes Film Festival opens today in France. American journalists whose outlets still have a dime to squeeze will squeeze into films that audiences back home will largely ignore when and if they ever win distribution stateside. I’d like to imagine a world in which the Wolverine brigade lines up to see Les Herbes Folles, the latest from 86-year-old New Wave pioneer Alain Resnais. Ain’t happening. Besides, crass commerce is supposed to have no place here. Art is all on zee Croisette, the avenue of the “little cross” where festival goers stroll past the Mediterranean on their way to see films at the Palais. Of course, Hollywood’s greedy little hand is everywhere, especially at photo ops, hoping to give their latest scam job a little Cannes cred while the rest of us hope random French starlets will jump naked into a fountain. So, I hear you asking: Is there any good stuff?
I’ve never known a Cannes Festival that didn’t offer cinema temptations. The opening night film, shown out of competition, is Up, the latest animated wonder from Pixar. And it’s being shown in 3D. That’s right, the snobs will have to put on those clunky glasses. Up is the first animated film ever to open the Cannes festival. And it deserves the honor. A tale of youth and age, of hilarity and heartbreak, it makes its own kind of poetry. It’s more than another Pixar miracle. Up is a magic flight into the realm of pure imagination.
And just look at the great international filmmakers on parade to win the Palme d’Or (Golden Palm) for best picture: Spain’s Pedro Almodovar with Broken Embraces, starring Penélope Cruz. Denmark’s Lars von Trier with Antichrist, New Zealand’s Jane Campion with Bright Star, France’s Gaspar Noe with Enter the Void, Germany’s Michael Haneke with The White Ribbon, South Korea’s Park Chan-wook with Thirst, Hong Kong’s Johnnie To with Vegenance and, shooting for the home team, Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds and Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock, just in time for celebrate the 40th anniversary of that landmark event in rock history.
What sounds unmissable to you? I’d brave the lines for Campion, Almodovar, Lee, Noe and Tarantino, especially to see what Brad Pitt does with the role of hillbilly Nazi killer. And, after the amazing Oldboy, Park Chan-wook gets my interest from the get-go. Most of all, I’d be thrilled to get the first peek at Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, starring the late Heath Ledger, and see what Johnny Depp and Jude Law did when they agreed to finish Ledger’s role after his untimely death.