Cannes 2011: a celebration of auteurism
Next month’s 64th Cannes film festival is set to be a
celebration of auteur led cinema, which can be considered some of the best in
the business. Heidi Vella highlights some of the finest auteurs included in
this year’s line up, looking at their present and past work.
Allen is famous for his neurotic characters and comedies looking
at love, relationships and the meaning of life, often with the city setting
acting as another integral character. His new film, Midnight in Paris, which opens
Cannes, reunites Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams (Wedding Crashers) in this all star cast movie (Michael
Sheen, Adrien Brody, Marion Cotillard, Carla Bruni) about a couple visiting Paris.
Enthralled by the city Wilson disappears at night seeking new adventures – but
is unknown and exciting necessarily better than old and safe?
Classic Allen: Annie Hall encapsulates Allen’s neurotic
undertones and constant questions about love and life. The four Academy Award
winning film chronicles the relationship between Alvy (Allen) and Annie, played
by Allen’s former lover Diane Keaton. It is also set in Allen’s beloved home
city, New York.
Considering Malik has a career spanning four decades he directed
only seven films. Nevertheless, his poetic philosophical narrations and
contrasts between the peace of nature and the evil of man have left a lasting
impact on many. His hotly anticipated new film, TheTree of Life, starring Brad
Pit and Sean Penn will was due to be controversially released in the UK on the 4th
of May before it reaches Cannes, however legal wranglings have put it on hold. It has been described as ‘a Texas boy’s
journey from the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years’.
Classic Malik: His first feature length directional debut,
Badlands, starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek is loosely based on the real-life murder spree of Charles Starkweather and his girlfriend, Caril Ann Fugate, in 1958
and explores transcendent themes of love and death fused with pop culture.
Arguably one of the most successful international directors of his
time, Almódovar is renowned for his portrayal of female, lesbian, gay and transsexual
characters and his stylised cinematography and complex narratives. At Cannes
Almódovar’s latest offering, The Skin I Live In, is part of the main
competition selection. Starring Almódovar’s favourite actor, Antonio Banderas,
it tells the story of a plastic surgeon on the
hunt for the men who raped his daughter.
Classic Almódovar: All About My Mother explores Almódovar’s
favourite themes of gender divisions, bloodlines, aids and identity after a
mother loses her son in a car accident.
All About My Mother Trailer
Japanese Takashi is known for depicting
scenes of extreme violence and sexual perversions in his movies, particularly
in an outlandish way that often pushes the boundaries of censorship. His film,
Hara-kiri: Death of a Samurai, is included in Cannes main competition
on the 1962 Masaki Kobayashi period it tells the story of a Samurai charged with protecting a
daughter and grandson. It will be his first 3D film.
Classic Miike: Cult classic, Audition, is about a widower who screens girls to
become his new wife under the pretence they are auditioning for a film, but the
woman he chooses isn’t everything she seems…
Lars von Trier
Controversial and experimental Danish film
maker Lars is associated with the cinematic movement Dogme 95, which has an
unusual but specific mantra for film making. He also makes his own films which
can often be described as parables of female suffering. In an unusual turn for
Lars, his film, Melancholia, selected for Cannes is a sci-fi starring Kirsten
Dunst, Kiefer Sutherland and Charlotte Gainsbourg. It is about two sisters
facing the end of the world, tensions rise as a nearby planet, Melancholia,
heads toward Earth.
Classic Von Trier: Dogsville is an excellent example of how Lars pushes boundaries
not just in subject matter but in his approach to film making. Filmed entirely
on a minimal stage-like set he tells the story of Grace, a woman who has
arrived in a small town called Dogsville after running away from mobsters.
Less known Auteurs to look out for at
Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Turkish film director Nuri uses static shots
and long takes to deal with issues such as estrangement of the individual,
natural existentialism, monotonous lives and the fundamental details of life.
His drama, Once Upon A Time in Anatolia, has been selected for the main
Check out: Ceylan’s Distant, a film about a disillusioned photographer who
puts up a young relative seeking work in Instanbul. The film was awarded the Grand Prix and Best Actor prize at
Cannes in 2003.
Finland’s Aki Kaurismaki
Finnish Aki’s style is heavily influenced by
French film makers Jean-Pierre Melville and Robert
Bresson. He uses simple cinematic storytelling and
low key acting. He is also included in the main competition with his
comedy-drama, Le Havre, about a shoe shiner who tries to save an
immigrant child in the French port city Le Havre.
Check out: His 1983 adaptation
of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment updated to present day Helsinki.
Nicolas Winding Refn
Danish Nicolas is most famous for his Bronson
and Pusher movies. His film Drive, starring Christina Hendricks and Ryan
Gosling will be in the main competition at Cannes. Drive tells the story of a
Hollywood stunt performer who moonlights as a wheelman and discovers that a
contract has been put on him after a heist gone wrong.
Check out: Bronson, which propelled Tom Hardy to stardom in 2008. Refn’s unflinching
portrayal of jail bird Bronson received much critical acclaim on its release
and distinguished Refn as a director of the future.
Other films to keep an eye out for…. We Need to Talk, by Scottish director Lynne Ramsay, the only British
film-maker in consideration; We Need To Talk About Kevin, Directed by Julia Leigh and adapted
from Lionel Shriver’s best-selling novel, Leigh’s directional debut was an
adaptation of her own novel Sleeping Beauty; Controversial Nicolas Sarkozy biopic
described as ‘a haunting erotic fairytale.’