Magazine article Variety

Yanks Rank in Star-Packed Cannes Crowd

Magazine article Variety

Yanks Rank in Star-Packed Cannes Crowd

Article excerpt

SELECTION INSPECTION

With four films by U.S. directors in competition, this year's fest offers plenty of familiar auteur names

THE AMERICAN FLAG Will be flying even higher than usual over the Croisette next month, with Steven Soderbergh's Behind the Candelabra, James Gray's The Immigrant, the Coen brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis and Alexander Payne's Nebraska set to premiere in a Cannes Film Festival competition whose outcome will be determined by a Steven Spielberg-led jury.

And that's not factoring in Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby, Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring and J.C. Chandor's Robert Redford starrer All Is Lost, all screening in prestigious noncompetitive slots, or the abundance of star-packed English-language fare in competition directed by foreign helmers, such as Nicolas Winding Refn's thriller Only God Forgives and Arnaud Desplechin's relationship drama Jimmy P.

If last year's competition was similarly top-heavy with U.S. fare, it also seemed almost consciously designed to showcase a hipper, edgier new wave of Hollywood filmmakers (Wes Anderson, Jeff Nichols, Andrew Dominik, John Hillcoat and Lee Daniels). Their counterparts in the 2013 lineup are all seasoned veterans. And some are previous Palme d'Or winners: Soderbergh with sex, lies and videotape, the Coens with Barton Fink, and Roman Polanski with The Pianist. (Polanski is back in competition with his French-language play adaptation Venus in Fur.)

Carving out a distinct message or theme, while striking the right balance between potential discoveries and established auteurs (or, depending on your perspective, between young upstarts and stodgy establishmentarians), can be a tricky proposition. As Cannes fest chief Thierry Fremaux will be among the first to tell you, programmers are ultimately at the mercy of what's available, regardless of curatorial acumen or festival rep. Cannes is in a position to take its pick of the lot, but its May timing can be a hindrance as well, with many hotly anticipated films unable to meet the completion deadline or unprepared to launch so early in the year.

Indeed, if there's a mild surprise among the American entries in competition, it's Payne's Nebraska, which many had expected to bypass Cannes in favor of a more awards-friendly fall festival berth. As always, there's no shortage of juicy titles that were previously rumored for the Croisette - such as Steve McQueen's Twelve Years a Slave, Spike Jonze's Her, Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity and Lee Daniels' The Butler - but will now unspool closer to year's end, with the Venice, Telluride and Toronto film festivals likely to benefit as a result. …

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