Return to Cannes for Tarantino?

Contenders line up as countdown runs down to May

by Richard Mowe

'Dynamic teaming' of Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
'Dynamic teaming' of Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood Photo: Sony Pictures

As one major European film festival, the Berlinale, winds down with an awards ceremony on Saturday (16 / 02), the rumour machine has already ground into action for the Cannes Film Festival which starts on 14 May.

Part of the fun of this limbo period is trying to second guess the programmers - and there are no shortage of contenders lining up for a berth. One of the front runners looks likely to be Quentin Tarantino, a Cannes regular who received the Palme d’Or for Pulp Fiction in 1994. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood features Leonardo DiCaprio, as the former star of a Western TV series, and his longtime stunt double played by Brad Pitt. Both are struggling to find work in 1969, at the height of hippy Hollywood and with a background of the Charles Manson murders.

Poster for Ira Sachs’ Frankie with Isabelle Huppert…could be lining up for a Cannes berth.
Poster for Ira Sachs’ Frankie with Isabelle Huppert…could be lining up for a Cannes berth. Photo: UniFrance

Tarantino has said: “"I've been working on this script for five years, as well as living in Los Angeles County most of my life, including in 1969, when I was seven years old. I’m very excited to tell this story of an LA and a Hollywood that don't exist anymore. And I couldn't be happier about the dynamic teaming of DiCaprio and Pitt."

Margot Robbie and Al Pacino also figure in the cast of a film which has been touted for the opening slot, according to colleagues close to the action on the French film trade publication Le Film Français.

Although Cannes has had a strained relationship with Netflix, in part as a result of protests by French cinema owners, it is thought that Martin Scorsese’s new film for the streaming giant, The Irishman, could be in with a shout for an out of competition slot. Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel and Al Pacino feature in the cast of the film which is based on the Charles Brandt book, I Heard You Paint Houses. The main focus is hitman Frank Sheeran, who admitted to killing former Teamsters Union head Jimmy Hoffa. De Niro plays Sheeran, whose recollections of his days in the mob involve flashbacks going back decades.

Other American directors who look likely to hit the Croisette are Jim Jarmusch for The Dead Don’t Die; Steven Soderbergh for The Laundromat with Meryl Streep and Gary Oldman about the Panama Papers scandal (also a Netflix offering), and James Gray for Ad Astra, a futuristic epic with Brad Bitt and Tommy Lee Jones.

Other familiar Cannes names who will have films ready for contention are Ken Loach (Sorry We Missed You); Pedro Almodóvar with Pain And Glory starring Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz; the Belgian Dardenne Brothers with Ahmed: The Islamic Radicalisation Of A Young Man; Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-Eda (Palme d’Or winner last year for Shoplifters) with The Truth, filmed in Paris with Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke; Quebec enfant terrible Xavier Dolan with Matthias And Maxime; Australian Justin Kurzel (The True History Of The Kelly Gang); and Ira Sachs with Frankie starring Isabelle Huppert.

Adèle Haenel appears in Céline Sciamma’s Portrait De La Jeune Fille En Feu, touted for a Cannes slot
Adèle Haenel appears in Céline Sciamma’s Portrait De La Jeune Fille En Feu, touted for a Cannes slot Photo: Richard Mowe

Among French directors being touted for the parade are Abdellatif Kechiche for Mektoub My Love: Intermezzo (or Canto Due), the sequel to Canto Uno; Céline Sciamma for Portrait De La Jeune Fille En Feu, with Adèle Haenel, Noémie Merlant and Valeria Golino; and Arnaud Desplechin for Roubaix, Ville Lumière, which he has co-written and co-directed with Léa Mysius. Other titles being cited to date include: De Nos Frères Blessés by Hélier Cisterne, with Vincent Lacoste and Vicky Krieps; Sybil by Justine Triet, with Virginie Efira, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Gaspard Ulliel; Joyeux Anniversaire by Cédric Kahn; Gloria Mundi by Robert Guédiguian; Notre Dame by Valérie Donzelli; Notre-Dame Du Nil by Atiq Rahimi; Énorme by Sophie Letourneur, with Marina Foïs; Liberté by Albert Serra; Alice Et Le Maire by Nicolas Pariser and Chanson Douce by Lucie Borleteau.

And this year’s 72nd edition of the Festival could also be the ideal occasion to showcase veteran Claude Lelouche’s Les Plus Belles Années, a sequel to A Man And A Woman which won the grand priz ex-aequo in 1966. The original stars Jean-Louis Trintignant and Anouk Aimée reprise their roles after all these years.

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