Thursday, May 16, 2024

Cannes 2024 Movies to Get Excited About

by Rob DiCristino
, obviously. Furiosa, sure. But what else?

The Balconettes (Dir. Noémie Merlant)
After falling head-over-heels in love with Noémie Merlant in Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire, I promised myself that I would seek out her next projects, including her directorial debut My Beloved in 2021. As I am a deeply foolish and duplicitous character of considerably ill repute, I haven’t made good on any of that. Luckily, Merlant has a new feature playing out of competition this year, a horror/comedy about three young roommates (Merlant, Souhelia Yacoub, and Sanda Codreanu) who get lost in fantasies about their mysterious neighbor (Lucas Bravo) while trapped in their tiny apartment during a heatwave. Those fantasies escalate and lead to bloodshed, apparently? Sounds like a micro-cast thriller set in a single location, which is very much my jam. Also, balconies. Love ‘em.

The Substance (Dir. Coralie Fargeat)
Revenge writer/director Fargeat returns with a “feminist body horror” joint starring Margaret Qualley, Dennis Quaid, and Demi Moore. You shouldn’t need any more than that, but here’s the description from Cannes: “Have you ever dreamt of a better version of yourself? You, only better in every way. You should try this new product; it’s called the Substance. It changed my life. With the Substance, you can generate another you: younger, more beautiful, more perfect. You just have to share time — one week for one, one week for the other. A perfect balance of seven days each… easy right? If you respect the balance… what could possibly go wrong?” Sounds Cronenbergy AF. Cannes execs have apparently described it as a spiritual sister to Julia Ducournau’s Titane. They can describe me as “in.”

Belly of the Beast (Dir. Andrew Haigh)
Andrew Haigh’s 2023 offering All of Us Strangers may have been a bit too niche and atmospheric to make a major awards run, but this true crime story starring Ben Stiller and Colin Farrell should garner him a bit more mainstream attention. Set in the 1950s, Belly of the Beast finds American author Norman Mailer (Stiller) engaging in extended correspondence with the genius-but-incarcerated Jack Henry Abbott (Farrell), eventually promising him legal help and career guidance. What happens from there feels better left alone for now, but Haigh sounds like exactly the filmmaker Colin Farrell should be working with if he wants to continue his current miracle run of textured and nuanced (okay, maybe not The Batman) performances. I know absolutely nothing about Norman Mailer — go ahead and strip me of my English degree now, you cretins — but I’m always down for Haigh’s breathy, esoteric approach to storytelling.

The Shrouds (Dir. David Cronenberg)
Speaking of Mr. Cronenberg, his long-gestating The Shrouds will finally see the light of day in competition at the festival this year. Originally conceived as an episodic series before Netflix — speaking also of foolish and duplicitous characters of considerably ill repute — pulled the plug, the film stars Vincent Cassel as a recent widower who invents GraveTech, a device that allows grieving families to keep an eye on the bodies of their departed loved ones. “One night,” reads the Cannes press release, “multiple graves, including that of Karsh’s [Cassel] wife, are desecrated. Karsh sets out to track down the perpetrators.” The Shrouds sounds to be heavily inspired by the tragic loss of Cronenberg’s wife Carolyn Zeifman, so audiences who found Crimes of the Future too cold and abstract may be in for something more personal. The Shrouds also stars Diane Kruger and Guy Pearce. I can’t wait.

Kinds of Kindness (Dir. Yorgos Lanthimos)
I mean, you knew the new Yorgos Lanthimos joint was going to be on this list, as his Poor Things topped my 2023 best-of picks. Cannes calls it a “triptych fable” — we love a triptych, folks — following a loner who loses control of his life (Willem Dafoe? Joe Alwyn?), a woman in search of spiritual guidance (Emma Stone? Margaret Qualley?), and a policeman (Jesse Plemmons? Mamoudou Athie?) whose wife (Hunter Schafer? Hong Chau?) returns mysteriously changed after a long absence. Lanthimos has always been a tough nut to crack, and I can’t say all of his films have spoken to me as specifically as Poor Things did, but this partnership with Emma Stone (The Favourite, anyone?) has yielded incredibly positive results for both of them. I’m very eager to see what they’ve cooked up for us this time around.

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