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Ten films to look out for at Cannes 2013

Ten films to look out for at Cannes 2013

The 66th Cannes Film Festival

The Sunday Times Culture blog

May 2013

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The 66th Cannes Film Festival kicks off on Wednesday. Here are the films that have our full attention.

The Great Gatsby
The curtain rises on this year’s festival with Baz Luhrmann’s confetti-clad makeover of the Roaring Twenties classic. Luhrmann appears to have adhered to the era and, for the most part, the novel’s obsessive dynamic of tragic enigma Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his efforts to lure first love Daisy (Carey Mulligan) back into his arms. The Aussie showman’s anachronistic imprint comes in the form of 3D visuals and hip-hop kingpin Jay Z’s soundtrack.

All is Lost
JC Chandor’s toxic-finance chiller Margin Call made a gripping debut and his follow-up sounds intriguing, too. In his first starring role since 2005’s An Unfinished Life for a director other than himself, Robert Redford plays an unnamed man on a solo voyage across the Indian Ocean who sails into the path of a savage storm. At first glance, it sounds like an OAP Life Of Pi, so we are fascinated to discover what Chandor has in store.

Behind the Candelabra
For a filmmaker who’s been announcing his retirement for what seems like years now (wonder if he’s regretting that decision), Steven Soderbergh is at least going in a blaze of glory with Magic Mike, Side Effects and this flamboyant biopic exposing the tawdrier, hidden side of showboating pianist Liberace (Michael Douglas). That would include his addiction to plastic surgery, prodigal spending and attachment to Scott Thorson (Matt Damon); the handsome young lover he attempted to mould in his image.

Inside Llewyn Davis
Cannes darlings and previous winners of the festival’s top accolade, the Palme d’Or, the Coen brothers are returning for the first time since 2007 with this portrait of an aspiring singer-songwriter (Oscar Isaac) coming of age in Greenwich Village during the 1960s folk-music scene. Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake and Garrett Hedlund also find themselves blowing in the wind, as does Coen regular John Goodman. Early word is that the Coens have produced a low-key charmer in a gentler vein to their previous work.

Only God Forgives
Having made a colossal splash on the Croisette two years ago with Drive, it’s fitting that Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling should want to unveil their second collaboration in Cannes. Gosling plays an American fugitive running a Bangkok boxing club, while Kristin Scott Thomas co-stars as his rage-crazed crimelord mother, in a Donatella Versace-esque wig no less. There will be blood, extreme violence and attractive neon lighting.

The Selfish Giant
Whatever sugar-coating is applied, it’s a dismal showing for British films at Cannes this year, with only five titles accepted into the main strands. But the highlight should be Clio Barnard’s follow-up to her deservedly feted debut The Arbor, already generating significant buzz. Contemporised from Oscar Wilde’s fairy tale, The Selfish Giant follows two teenage outsiders who, in vying for the attention of a wizened, Fagin-like scrapman, end up driving a tragic wedge between themselves.

Last Days on Mars
The Director’s Fortnight strand is usually a rarefied arthouse preserve so it’s intriguing to see a genre film make the cut. The feature debut of Irish director Ruairi Robinson, Last Days is an ambitious science-fiction thriller with a solid cast (Olivia Williams, Liev Schreiber, Romola Garai, Elias Koteas) and a promisingly creepy narrative about a group of astronauts succumbing to a devious Red Planet.

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