Cannes: Most Anticipated.

This year's Cannes Film Festival (with poster efforts by none other than David Lynch, below; employing a familiar motif) boasts some highly-anticipated new films from some of the most exciting filmmakers around, and a good number of them are set to open. The rest of the schedule, of course, looks just as splendid. (Here's the Variety coverage.) The first unveiling goes to Fernando Meirelles' ('The Constant Gardener' and 'City of God') Blindness which is one of the most curious films and one that I'm incredibly excited about. It takes a high concept like an epidemic of contagious blindness sweeping across a city and turns it into an elegant (so I hear) allegory about the fragility of civilization. It's adapted from Nobel prize-winner Jose Saramago's 1995 novel of the same name. 'Children of Men' and 'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly' come to mind whenever I hear or read about this film, and that's definitely a good thing, it's a good combination. The cast looks shining, too, consisting of Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Danny Glover, and Gael Garcia Bernal.

Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut, Synecdoche, New York, is another of my personal picks for most anticipated, as Kaufman is one of the few screenwriters in or around Hollywood who has managed to turn the auteur theory on its head, or his. He's a hot commodity, as they say, and his new pic is being trailed by studio execs like a lion to a calf (seen the Battle at Kruger video yet?). They may get lost in this one, though, because it looks like a doozy: Phillip Seymour Hoffman is a theater director (living in Schenectady, New York, where else?) whose wife - played by Catherine Keener - leaves him, so to prove his worth decides to build a replica of the city in a warehouse, which he expands ultimately for forty years and populates with actual people. Even more of a doozy: Kaufman always said he wanted to make a horror film, and he calls this one it. His first time directing (he's the only first-timer this year at the festival), he's got some major ambitions.

Some of the other films to debut: Steven Soderbergh's Che, which follows Benicio del Toro as the 'Lawrence of Latin America' in a two-parter; Woody Allen's continuation of his re-energized phase that started with 'Match Point', Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which follows Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Rebecca Hall in another twisty, lusty plot; James Gray's Two Lovers about a man, played by Joaquin Phoenix, who's stuck in the middle between a woman his family loves and a new and volatile neighbor; and Clint Eastwood's The Changeling, which stars Angelina Jolie as a mother (the story of her life) who finds with the return of her abducted child that something's not quite right. A year with big names has quite a few fighting for the top spot.

IMAGE from: Anne Thompson

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