I have always wanted to go to the Cannes Film Festival, and have never been. So each spring I eagerly await the news of the latest lineup and I comb over it and drool a bit, trying not to think that it will probably be almost a year before I get to see some of them, if at all. I'm always fascinated by the winner of the Palme d'Or, and it's interesting to compare these with, say, the Best Picture Oscar announced many months later. The difference is that the French (and whoever happens to be on the jury) tend to look at movies as a director's craft rather than as a vehicle for storytelling and/or messages.
Going in this direction, the first movie in the new lineup that caught my eye is Outrage, by Japanese filmmaker Takeshi Kitano (pictured above). If you were a hardcore cinema buff in the 1990s, it was hard not to fall in love with this guy's movies; gangster movies like Sonatine and Hana-bi were disarmingly quiet and then suddenly explosive and gory. In-between, he made some quiet little dramas with no blood at all. If you wanted to put him on a list of the world's greatest living filmmakers, I wouldn't have argued, but -- after the 2003 release of his The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi, he more or less disappeared. His films stopped getting American distribution. I hesitate to use the word "comeback," but something about this new movie feels good.
The Certified Copy by Iran's Abbas Kiarostami is another one that's almost a comeback. Like Kitano, Kiarostami ruled the 1990s, with five major masterpieces, including the 1997 Palme d'Or winner Taste of Cherry. Working within the confines of Iran's rigid censorship, Kiarostami developed a very delicate, thoughtful, poetic way of making his films, including self-reflexive looks at filmmaking and brilliant uses of winding roads and walkways. Recently, Kiarostami began experimenting with video and photography and, like Kitano, his films stopped showing in American theaters. (His last one was Ten, in 2003.) Last year, he made another experimental work, Shirin, which very simply watches the faces of more than 100 women as they watch a movie. Juliette Binoche was one of the women, and now she has teamed with Kiarostami for the new movie.
I have to admit, I'm kind of excited to see Ridley Scott's Robin Hood (screening out of competition), though I have misgivings (will it be too brooding?). I'm also looking forward to Aurora, the new feature by Cristi Piui (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu), and I'm always up for new movies by Woody Allen, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and the 101 year-old Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira.
What, dear readers, would you like to see?