The Washington Post

Cannes Film Festival: Six movies to watch

The Cannes Film Festival opens today with its usual mix of serious art and flagrant movie publicity stunts. For an example of the latter, please see Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek in the video below posing atop a giant pair of boots to promote “Puss in Boots,” the next installment in the “Shrek” franchise.

Yes, plenty of mainstream Hollywood flicks — including “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” “Kung Fu Panda 2” and “The Beaver” — will get their day in the French Riviera sun.(And, apparently, so will Lady Gaga.) But for those wondering which films have the most buzz behind them as Cannes begins, here’s a list of six movies worth keeping track of as the festival unfolds.

Related links: View photos from the Cannes Film Festival

“Midnight in Paris”: As the festival opener — and a Woody Allen film in a country known for its adoration of Woody Allen — it will be interesting to see how this one plays. The film already screened for press at Cannes, prompting Entertainment Weekly’s Dave Karger to go ahead and declare that it may have a shot at an Oscar nomination.

“We Need to Talk About Kevin”: Based on Lionel Shriver’s 2003 novel, this film focuses on the mother and father (Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly) of a teen boy who goes on a shooting spree. Given the controversial subject matter, it has the potential to be a talker. Here’s a quietly dramatic clip from the film, directed and co-written by Lynne Ramsay (“Morvern Callar”).

“The Tree of Life”: This would be an attention-grabber solely because it stars Sean Penn and Brad Pitt and, as such, means that both ScarPenn and Brangelina could stroll down the red carpet prior to Monday’s premiere. (ScarPenn — did I actually just write that?) The fact that the epic coming-of-ager marks Terrence Malick’s first directorial effort since 2005’s “The New World” — and one that was supposed to premiere at Cannes last year before Malick decided to do some re-working — makes it all the more buzz-worthy.

“This Must Be the Place”: Speaking of Sean Penn, he also stars in this drama as a retired rock star. His gothed-out appearance has already invited the inevitable comparisons to Robert Smith of The Cure. Watch below and you can see why.

“Melancholia”: It’s described as a psychological disaster movie from director Lars von Trier. That’s enough to either make you a. excited or b. highly concerned, depending on your attitude toward von Trier’s work. The cast includes Kiefer Sutherland, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Alexander Skarsgard and Kristen Dunst, in a performance that could mark a career comeback for the actress, depending on how the movie is received.

“Unlawful Killing:” No Cannes Film Festival would be complete without at least one ultra-controversial entry. This year, a documentary about the death of Princess Diana, which has been banned in Britain, appears to be filling that spot. As the trailer suggests, the movie should once again stir up debate about whether Diana was killed or died in an accident; it also features a never-before-seen image of the princess as she lay dying in a Paris tunnel that some will undoubtedly deem gratuitous.

When she isn’t at a movie theater or writing about movies, Jen Chaney is ... um ... probably at home, watching a movie.

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