May 12, 2011 12:00AM

Our Picks for the Cannes Film Festival

Movies, melancholia and extreme make-overs.

The Cannes Film Festival kicks off today! Don't be jealous, we weren't given an all-expenses-paid trip to the South of France either - but we did spend a significant part of the morning watching some previews. Unfortunately the organisers have forgotten to include Karl Lagerfeld's latest film in the schedule, but here are a few others we're pretty excited about:

Melancholia:

Lars Von Trier's latest venture looks to be one of the most beautiful films about complete devastation ever made. Charlotte Gainsbourg and Kiefer Sutherland join Kristen Dunst in lending the preview a deliciously uncomfortable aura riddled with ambiguity and, yes, nudity. Also starring Charlotte Rampling, John Hurt, Alexander Saarsgard and Udo Kier, the preview is as confusing as it is beautiful. Which begs the question - is it even really about the end of the world? Oooh?

This Must Be The Place:

Sean Penn stars in two films this Cannes Film Festival, the other being the highly-anticipated Tree of Life with Brad Pitt, but this is the only one in which he plays a middle-aged rock star fronting a band channeling Siouxsie and the Banshees, and has a look inspired by Robert Smith of The Cure. Directed by Paolo Sorrentino of Il Divo with Sean Penn specifically in mind, the film traces "Cheyenne" as he becomes increasingly bored in his retirement and takes on the quest of finding his father's ex-Nazi war criminal tormentor.

Sleeping Beauty:

One of the worst things our eyes have encountered this year, besides Princess Beatrice's royal wedding hat, was the preview of Red Riding Hood by Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke. Sleeping Beauty looks to be the antithesis of that atrocity, proving that modern adaptations of erotic fairytales can be done quite effectively. Directed by Sydney-based Julia Leigh, Sleeping Beauty stars Emily Browning as a a death-haunted university student who takes a job as a Sleeping Beauty - which, in case you weren't aware, consists of lying submissively in a chamber where old men visit seeking an erotic experience. Like any good horror film there is an interplay between the conscious and the unconscious mind, as Lucy develops an increasing need to know what happens to her while she is asleep. And you thought your part-time job sucked.

Drive

This film 8 Carey Mulligan and Ryan Gosling. This is reason enough to see it, but there are other things about it that also look quite interesting. Gosling plays a Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver for some of LA's most dangerous men. It looks like there will be a lot of action, a lot of driving and a lot of cars, but Gosling fans will be glad to know that his character is described as "a loner by nature" - which is exactly how we like him. A fact about the film unrelated to Ryan Gosling is that it is exactly 100.00 minutes long in duration.

Restless:

Happy movie time! Well, almost. Restless, by award-winning ubiquitous Cannes director Gus Van Sant, is a powerful coming of age story about the relationship of two teenagers, played by Mia Wasikowska and Henry Hooper. The surrounding circumstances are pretty depressing, what with all the funerals, hospitals and ominous opening shots of Hooper drawing a dead-person-chalk-outline around his own body, but if anyone can make this story heart-warming it's the director of Elephant and Milk. We don't know what's cuter - the on-screen couple, or Wasikowska's new pixie-cut.

Words: Hannah Ongley

www.festival-cannes.com

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