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It is a Vintage Year for Films

 Wednesday, April 6, 2011


April has arrived and the Cannes Film Festival is looming.

Although applications have already closed I have heard

rumours that it is favouring everything except Japanese films.

However, I always try to ignore these rumours otherwise

I end wasting time on a wild-goose chase.


The Cannes Film Festival is the largest of its kind in the world, of course.

What kind of films are in it’s line-up this year.

As per usual I wonder about this.

As of this weekend the “lid is completely closed”.


There are a lot of producers from around the world

who are in different states of play. Some have already been

rejected; some anxiously waiting an unofficial offer;

and some have already had an unofficial offer so are busy

re-arranging their schedule and preparations.

It all comes to a head this weekend.


There is not much room for conjecture, but the North American

market tends to aim its hope toward the Sundance Film Festival

in January, whilst all other territories usually aim at the

Cannes Film Festival in May. For independent film makers it is good

to view the works being considered for prizes to create an index

of what is trending in the world.


So, I am going to cast my eyes on this years notable projects.


This year has the feel of a good vintage.


News films are expected from Pedro Almodovar, David Cronenberg,

Won Kar-wai, the Dardenne Brothers, Lars von Trier, Aki Kaurismäki,

Bela Tarr etc.

A certain industry magazine is very excited by the prospect

that these films occupy the half of its competition program at Cannes.


Won Kar-wai’s new film is the story of Ip Man, who is said to be

the master of the martial art used by Bruce Lee. Though this story

has been filmed before with Donnie Yen in the title role,

Tony Leung is starring in War Kar-wai’s take on the tale.

He had to train very hard for the role. I heard that Zhang Ziyi is

also performing in the film. I think she is not the young innocent

she was in the film THE ROAD HOME.

I suppose that although the film is complete a release date in

Hong Kong has not been set, based on the assumption that

it will be chosen for Cannes, of course! The film is called THE GRANDMASTERS.

We can imagine the film contents from this title, can’t we.


The Spanish grand-master Pedro Almodovar is readying his

new film THE SKIN I LIVE IN, starring his old friend Antonio Banderas.

It is the story of a plastic surgeon who’s wife is killed in a car accident,

and who is developing a new sort of skin. It has already sold in

most countries at the planning stage. Very impressive!


David Cronenberg’s A DANGEROUS METHOD, stars

Vigo Mortensen and co-stars Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley

and Vincent Cassel.  I have to say this must be an unembellished film,

by the producer of director Takashi Miike’s 13 ASSASSINS,

and who did Kitano’s BROTHER and GOHATTO, plus DEPARTURES.

He previously produced Cronenberg’s CRASH.

Yap,he is an old friend of Cronenberg.


Aki Kaurismäki is trying to come to the Cannes Film Festival,

for the first time in 5 years, with his new film LE HAVRE.

It is the tale of a cobbler, who lives in a small Finnish town,

and takes on the responsibility for a refugee African child.

It sounds like a very human comedy.


Oscar winner Lasse Hallstöm is prepping his new film



Fondly remember director Jean-Jacques Arnoud is making

the historical drama film BLACK GOLD in Tunisia and Qatar

at the moment.  It has an amazing sky high budget for

an independent film (from Japanese producer’s perspective),

of fifty billion yen.


Lars von Triers ANTICHRIST caused controversy at the Cannes

before last and is now being released in Japan.  His new film

MELANCHOLIA stars Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsburg.

I hear the film which starts with “end of the world” is

a psychological disaster movie. It has already been sold into

25 countries. Given that it opens on the 26th May in Denmark

means it will be ready for Cannes.


Furthermore, director Hirokazu Kore-Eda’s I WISH is on the 2011

lineup from Japan. Also expected are films from Roland Emmerich,

Lynne Ramsey, Steve McQueen and, ladies and gentlemen, Madonna!!


I WISH had been derided at the end of last year as being

just an extended PR film for the new bullet train,

which was fully opened to passenger traffic in the Kyûshû

region on the 12th March.


However, director Kore-Eda is a regular at Cannes.

He enjoys great popularity in France, and is hopeful of being

at Cannes due to the support he receives from the major

sales agent in France, The Wild Bunch. They purchased the film

at the beginning of this year.

Hum,,,, that’s why the release was postponed until June…

well, I am not sure.


By the way, Joe Odagari who portrays a school boy’s father,

has become a father in real life. He has now opened up

new territory for his film roles.


Then, there are all the new films crammed together in addition

to these regulars. It is a vintage year.


I hear that Brillante Mendoza, from the Philippines, film PREY,

is already being praised as a masterpiece so is to being

considered for Cannes. Also works by Nanni Moretti, Gus van Sant,
Lou Ye, Alexander Payne, André Techine and Pen-ek Ratanaraung.

Todd Hayne’s spectacular 5 hour long film MILDRED PIERCE

is also Cannes bound. (But, this is a film made for HBO television.

It must be well made as it stars Kate Winslet).


Then there are lots of rumours, that we have no good reason

to believe, so please do not pay any attention to them.


The official public announcements will be on the 14th April.


By the way, Terrence Malick’s

THE TREE OF LIFE, starring Brad Pitt has been announced as
one of the official selection film, already.


I hear that it is the story of the life of three sons and

their conflicts with their father, performed by Pitt, in the 1950’s.

Sean Penn plays the adult character of Jack, one of the sons.

How can he overcome his birth trauma and truly understand

his family & parents?

“I can forgive you now, my father”… in this way?

So far as I can see it seems to relate to the philosophy

of universal truth. It shows us the power of Gaia.

This film has as its themes – the meaning of being born;

human relationships and reconsidering being part of nature.

I am really interested in this film. I want to watch it.


This is a very convincing opening film at the world’s most

anticipated film festival, Cannes.


The poster, the trailer and using the music Vltava (The Moldau)”

seem very good.