The Film: A movie about ballet from the guy who directed Requiem For A Dream and The Wrestler ? Yep, Darren Aronofsky is staying true to form with a hard-to-categorise new flick that looks every bit as dark, twisted and fascinating as anything else he’s ever thrown down.
Why We're So Excited: In a name: Natalie Portman. As a dancer. Who apparently goes sort of mental, if the trailer’s anything to go by. We’ve not seen Portman in anything noteworthy for a while, but Black Swan has her back with a vengeance. There’s also that lesbian love scene she shares with Mila Kunis, not that we’re too fussed about that…
The Film: Sofia Coppola’s latest, this one taking a break from the woes of teenage girldom to peer at the relationship between Stephen Dorff’s debauched actor and his 11-year-old daughter (Elle Fanning). When she pitches up on his doorstep, Dorff’s actor type is forced to reconsider his lifestyle - there's a new number one in town.
Why We're So Excited: Coppola’s teen trilogy was closed with her sumptuous and daring Marie Antoinette , so we can’t wait to see how she handles something a little bit different. The brilliant trailer has our eyes pricked (yeah, it's possible), with Dorff stretching himself beyond his usual remit. Definitely one to watch.
Promises Written In Water
The Film: Vincent Gallo follows up his previous, blazing turns behind the camera ( The Brown Bunny, Buffalo ’66 ) with this unusual, avant-garde tale. A young girl suffering from a terminal illness decides to die at home. It’s been touted as a pared back, sparse drama with the emphasis firmly placed on realism – Gallo asked all of his actors to behave exactly as they do in their everyday lives.
Why We're So Excited: “What I have tried to do in this movie is to make choices as if this was the first movie ever made and not to buy into the story of what cinema should be,” Gallo has said. So we’re looking at something experimental, made entirely on the go and with little regard for what audiences might think. In other words: mental as.
The Film: Politics go under the knife, as director Pablo Larraín re-teams with his favourite leading man Alfredo Castro – who he formerly worked with on the chilling Tony Manero in 2008. Here, they take on the 1973 coup in Chile that brought dictator Augusto Pincohet to power. Castro plays Mario, a morgue attendee whose lover’s family are arrested for their Communist leanings. Then he receives a military order to write an autopsy report on a strange corpse…
Why We're So Excited: Expect unflinching dissections of the country’s troubled past, but sieved through an unusual human drama. Larraín and Castro won numerous awards for Tony Manero – we’d be surprised if Post Mortem didn’t garner a similar reponse.
The Film: The Fest is beginning with a bang, as Robert Rodriguez’s trailer-turned-feature has been selected as the Opening Night Midnight Movie. In the role of Machete is Danny Trejo, all suited and booted and out for revenge against his slimy former Federale boss. If this does well, a whole new franchise will be born.
Oh, and let’s not forget Machete’s curvy sidekicks Jessica Alba and Michelle Rodriguez – the former as an immigration officer, the latter as a gun-toting revolutionary. And then there’s LiLo in a habit as a nun with a gun…
Why We're So Excited: Because it’s been decades in the making. Because it’s Robert Rodriguez. Because it has Alba, Rodriguez and Lindsay Lohan all in the same movie . Because it has Danny Trejo as the titular character wielding all manner of slice-and-dice weaponry. Just because.
Road To Nowhere
The Film: Ever seen Urban Legends: Final Cut ? It’s a B-grade slasher directed by John Ottman about a film school where fiction and reality blur. Well, get ready for the A-grade version of that story, with Monte Hellman’s romance-tinged noir. The story of a young filmmaker whose on-location shooting tangles him up with a crime, Road To Nowhere marks Hellman’s return to directing. He’s best known for 1971 cult classic Two-Lane Blacktop .
Why We're So Excited: This is Hellman’s first feature movie in over 20 years (his last was, uh, Silent Night, Deadly Night III ), which makes its unveiling at the festival worthy of celebration in itself.
But even if you’ve never heard of Hellman before (LoveFilm beckons), the premise alone should have you hooked – along with the promise of a romantic noir thriller.
The Film: Closing this year’s festival, The Tempest is yet another adaptation of Shakespeare’s supposedly last solo play. Previous adaps stretch right back to 1911, and there’s been a fresh stab at the material on the screen just about every decade since. Directed by Julie Taymor, the flick follows a Duchess as she attempts to restore her daughter to her rightful place with the use of illusion.
Why We're So Excited: Shakespeare adaps generally range in tone depending on the hand and mind steering them. There are ‘sensible’, true adaptations (Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V ), funky updated versions ( 10 Things I Hate About You ), and more experimental interpretations.
The Tempest comes under the latter, with the typically male role of Prospero turned female, renamed Prospera, and played by the unquenchably super Helen Mirren. That alone has us all a-tingle, let alone the rest of the cast – which includes Russell Brand, Alfred Molina and Alan Cumming.
The Film: Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu launch into a satirical comedy directed by François Ozon that examines the role of women within French society. It’ll be competing for the Golden Lion at this year’s festival – and with a cast like that, could just snatch it away from the other contenstants.
Why We're So Excited: Just look at that cast, for a start. The pedigree of talent involved in Potiche is plenty to write home about. Add in Ozon behind the camera (his 2003 film Swimming Pool was nominated for the Cannes Golden Palm), and Potiche has potential in reams.
Im Still Here
The Film: It’s 2008. Joaquin Phoenix has won an Oscar, and he’s sick of the movie world. What next? Foster a wild-bush beard and hit the road as a wannabe rapper! Um, yeah. Directed by Casey Affleck (Ben’s bro, and star of The Killer Inside Me ), this documentary follows Phoenix’s attempts to set the world of rap ablaze. Some men just like to watch the world burn.
Why We're So Excited: Affleck’s documentary should reveal once and for all whether or not Phoenix’s bizarre descent into apparent madness is sadly legit, or one big massive publicity stunt. Frankly, we hope it’s the latter (we miss you Jo!), but if it’s the former, this doc should prove freakishly fascinating.
The Film: Slumdog Millionaire ’s Freida Pinto stars as Palestinian school girl Miral, who finds herself trapped in the middle of violent upheavals regarding the future of her country. It's based on the book by Rula Jebreal, which was more focussed on real-life Hind Husseini, who created the Dar Al-Tifel Institute, a Jerusalem Orphanage.
Why We're So Excited: After a brief respite with Woody Allen’s You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger , Miral marks Pinto’s continued dedication to work with brilliant directors on projects that challenge as much as they entertain. From the looks of the trailer, she won’t disappoint here. Also, Miral ’s directed by Julian Schnabel, who brought the beautiful Diving Bell And The Butterfly to our screens – a film that some of us are still sobbing into our morning coffee over.
The Film: There will be blood. Violent movie virtuoso Takashi Miike returns after having splattered the screen red with Ichi The Killer and Audition for a remake of Eiichi Kudo’s 1963 film. As you’d expect from a title like that, there will be a samurai group, numerous katanas and an evil Lord in need of a killing. In an attempt to destroy said lord, the samurai (yes, there are 13) transform an innocent mountain village into an intricate death trap.
Why We're So Excited: It’s The Dirty Dozen meets Kill Bill by way of Ichi The Killer ! The name Miike is forever synonymous with outrageous movie violence (not to mention tight-wound storytelling), which means that you should be twisted up in your seat even as you whoop at every head that gets lopped off.
Not only that, but other Miike films will also be screening out of the festival competition, with Zebraman and Zebraman 2 showing.
The Film: Ben Affleck points the camera again for his sophomore directing effort after Gone Baby Gone . This time, he’s starring as well, as a professional bank robber who falls for the manager of the bank he’s just laid the smackdown on. Rebecca Hall is said love interest, while Mad Men ’s Jon Hamm plays the FBI agent out for blood. Meanwhile, Gossip Girl and Green Lantern beauty Blake Lively roughs it up as Affleck’s ex-girlfriend.
Why We're So Excited: Some of us in the office have already seen it, the other half are trying to gag them to stop them spilling the flick’s secrets. But what we gather from the muffled-but-still-enthusiastic parties is that Ben Affleck is no one-trick pony when it comes to directing, The Town matching Gone Baby Gone with its fresh delivery of a familiar yarn.