Brandon Cronenberg Talks Fetishizing Celebrity & Getting Sick With His Debut Feature ‘Antiviral’

By definition, a virus is a small infectious agent that can replicate only inside the living cells of an organism. It may be a far-removed thought from your mind when you’re in the throws of sickness, but those tiny agents attacking your healthy cells once lived inside of someone else—be it a stranger or someone in close contact. "These physical little virons have travelled into your body and infected your cells, and that’s why you’re sick," says director Brandon Cronenberg, whose nauseatingly great debut feature Antiviral investigates the idea of disease as a marketable and desirable product for consumption. 

The first time I watched the film was in the wee hours of the morning. I fell asleep as the credits rolled and woke up with nosebleed. Granted, I happened to be quite ill myself, but I like to attribute my nasal hemorrhage to the intensity of the film—which establishes Cronenberg as more than just the spawn of one of cinema’s most mind-bending directors, his father, David Cronenberg. Antiviral is a well-crafted and intelligent first feature that’s as inventive and thought provoking as it is grotesque and visually thrilling. 

But this idea of disease as a sought-after consumerist dream is wrapped in an extremist view of a celebrity-obsessed world that, frankly, isn’t too far off from our future. Focusing on a young man named Syd March (played with absolute perfection by Caleb Landry Jones), Antiviral exists in a world where biotech firms see bodies as a commodities and patients pour into their clinics to have themselves injected with the infections of their favorite celebrities. And although modification allows for the diseases to not be contagious, it’s the mania surrounding celebrity that proves to be the real illness here. 

As the head technician for Lucas Clinic, Syd injects disease into his clients as well as himself, using his own body to smuggle viruses onto the black market. And in case you’re still hungry, there are even butcher shops where celebrity cell steaks are grown and doled out by the pound. But of course, things go awry when Syd injects himself with a virus living inside the most famous and beloved celebrity of them all, Hannah Geist (played wonderfully by Sarah Gadon). Things grow increasingly more emetic and dangerous when Geist suddenly dies, leaving Syd to find out what killed her in order to save himself.

Besides the stark and sterile sets in juxtaposition with the thick red blood and microscopic details, the visceral and trance-inducing music, and a story that keeps unfolding bit by painful bit, the best part of the film lies in the performances of its talented young actors. Jones, a pale, freckled, and handsome man, plays Syd with an incredible intensity as if he was physically in pain every moment in front of the camera. With his translucent skin, fiery red hair, and menacing look behind his eyes, he barely has to say a word—the way he moves his body and tenor of his voice says it all. He’s fantastic alongside Gadon, whom you’ve seen before in both Cosmopolis and A Dangerous Method, who now brings a humanity and softness to a woman that people are literally dying to be close to. 

On Tuesday afternoon, I sat down with Cronenberg—and interrupted his sandwich eating—to talk about the inception of the idea for the film, the cultural construct of celebrities, and where his film falls on the horror movie spectrum.

I watched the film when I was pretty sick, and I have to say it made me quite uneasy. This idea of a virus growing inside someone else and being passed on inside of you is pretty gross when you really think about it. How did the idea for the film come to you originally?
Also through being sick: I had a fever, and became obsessed with the idea that I had something in my body that had come from someone else’s. These physical little virons that were produced by someone else’s infected cells travelled into your body and infected your cells and they’re physically in your body, and that’s why you’re sick. In my feverish state, that seemed like a big deal, like something very intimate. And it is intimate if you think about it that way—even if it’s not, in the sense that you’re often physically removed from the other person and you don’t know who got you sick. I was trying to think of a person who would see it with intimacy and thought a celebrity-obsessed fan might want that from someone they’re obsessed with. 

And you began writing the movie a while ago when you were still in film school?
Yeah, in 2004. It was about eight years from when I started writing it to when I got to make it.

That idea of a person who would find this intimate, is that how the celebrity angle developed for you?
It seemed like that character made sense, that you could imagine fandom pushing someone to see disease as something desirable. So that struck me as an interesting metaphor discussing that culture, and it developed into an interest in that.

I love how in the film you describe celebrity as a group hallucination, especially when there’s an entire culture surrounding an idea that we’ve attributed to certain people for absolutely no reason. It was interesting that you even chose not to reveal what the celebrities in the film were famous for—was that something you intentionally wanted to do from the start?
Yeah, because fame is so removed from accomplishment. Sometimes the two go hand-in-hand, but increasingly the celebrity industry is becoming something very insular and not related to accomplishment. Nowadays celebrities are mass-produced through reality television and other means, and a huge amount of money is made off of that. So I was picturing one extreme end of it. There are digital celebrities in Japan that aren’t even based on real people—that’s the complete extreme, where people are no longer even in the picture. But this is just one version where there’s no other interest in that world, everyone is watching celebrity news and they’re famous for no reason, and it’s about the consumption of fame.

It’s one thing to be obsessed with an actor because you love their movies. It’s another thing to be consumed by what they wore to the grocery store.
Exactly. It’s true. I think there’s a line there. To be a fan in the sense that you like what someone’s doing and you take an interest in where that comes from and what they’re up to next—that’s totally healthy. But there’s a tipping point, and when you’re just focused on the details of their life and fetishize them, that’s when it becomes a kind of mania.

Did you want the set design and physical world of the film—this very white, sterile environment—to echo the inhuman side to what the characters were doing?
Well there are two elements to it: one was that it was just a way of playing with the eye of the audience, because if you have a totally white set, anything that’s not white will pop. So the faces on the walls have an extra physical weight to them and the blood really stands out. But also, one of the themes in the film is that divide of celebrities as cultural constructs or media constructs that exist purely in the public’s consciousness, almost completely unrelated to the human being. And then the human being is the body and we don’t like to look at our bodies very closely. And then is so unrelated to the celebrity and it dies and the celebrity exists on. Like the Tupac hologram, more and more you don’t need a body to have a career. So reflecting that in the design and having those really inhuman sterile things and then contrasting them with the dirtier sets and microscopic body stuff is what we wanted to do.

And when you wrote the script, did you plan out all the visual elements as well like the machines or those very striking scenes of Syd when he gets really sick.
It was all written in the script and then developed in the process. For instance, the machines, I had long paragraphs describing them and the faces on them and the way they worked, but then making that real was a collaboration with my production designer. So it all was essentially there in the script but developed through collaboration.

Tell me about casting Caleb. He was so perfect for the role, and I can’t imagine anyone else playing him with so well. He was terrifying the amount of absolute misery he looked in made you feel a little endeared. I mean he really looked like he was constantly in pain—
Which I think he is. Well, I’d seen him in X-Men

Yeah, that’s slight different than this.
Well, I wasn’t think of him from that because it was very different, but his agent had worked with my producer and so we were asking around and I saw clips from things he’d done. And it was really exciting because he’s a great actor but he also has that hard to articulate special quality that some actors have where they’re really fascinating to watch, and it’s in his movements and his intensity and his appearance—he just has this thing. But he’s not what I was picturing while I was writing. The character was actual written older in the original script but it was just so exciting when we found him that we thought, better to plug in someone really exciting than try and just find someone just to cling to this old image of the character. Now I can’t see him any other way.

And did you two talk about the character a lot before hand? What was directing him like on set?
He made it really easy for me because he brought so much to the film. He’s a really intense actor and what we did was talk a lot before shooting—what he was feeling, the development of the character—and got into detail. Then we would shoot and I’d give him some notes but he had such a handle on it right from the start that it’s not like I had to drawn it out of him in some agonizing process. It was really an exciting thing where he would give me more than I needed and I could pick and choose and say, let’s go this way with it. Even by the time it came to editing we had so much interesting material and variations that we could have cut the character drastically different. 

Sarah had worked with your father before, so did you know her beforehand? I thought she was great because she seems to be very human and very sweet but she’s also so beautiful that she could play this perfect woman.
I agree. I hadn’t met her before but I had seen her in A Dangerous Method and thought she was really great, and that was a big contributing factor. But also, it’s exactly that—we needed someone who could be believable as the biggest star in the world but also someone who had real acting talent and in those moments where you see her as an actual human being, could be very frail. In a way, the whole thing rested on that because in that moment, if she wasn’t believable as a human being it would have fallen apart and we would have lost a lot. 

And before you went to film school you were working in other creative mediums?
I was trying to be a fiction writer and was doing a lot of drawing and visual art and playing music and really doing way too much at once.

So as a filmmaker, do you draw your inspiration from literature and art more so than other films?
From everything really. Literature definitely quite a bit. I’ve gotten a lot more into film since I’ve been making films, weirdly. I wasn’t a cinephile growing up. I was more of a book nerd.

Can you tell me a little about the music for the film? It was very visceral and really made me feel uneasy.
Especially if you’re sick. E.C. Woodley is the composer and we just talked about a lot of stuff—first very theoretically about what we wanted the music to do and that it should be more about his internal state than about what’s happening around. I had had this idea that I wanted something that was electronic mixed with acoustic instrumentation and he knew this musician who had this huge bank of analog synths, and they had done these experiments where they ran orchestral chords through the synths. So he had been waiting to use that for something and it seemed like the perfect time. It looked like an old operator switchboard, it was all patch chords into different nodes and they put in a bunch of instrumentation and it was hard to control what came out of it, it would just be a bunch of different wave forms and rhythms.

And do you want to keep making these darker films and stick closer to this genre?
I wasn’t specifically making a horror film. I can’t really think in those terms when I’m working, I’m just paying with idea and what comes out of it. 

Is it exactly a horror film?
At first I was not calling it a horror film because I think there’s a mainstream conception of horror films that they should be terrifying and this thrill ride of fun. This is not a fun movie. My DP was saying, stop calling it "maybe not a horror film" because it is a horror film, like people that are into horror have this broader idea of what horror is and it does fall in that and if you say it’s maybe not a horror film everyone’s going to think you’re an asshole and trying to say it’s like above horror. And it totally wasn’t that.I don’t feel like horror is a low art at all, I feel like it’s a great genre, I’m just bad at categorizing things.

And naturally when you make a film like this, or probably anything you would have made, there will be comparisons to your father. Were you worried at all about establishing yourself as your own filmmaker?
People have been comparing me to my father before I was evening film. I would draw things and people would say, ‘That’s such a Cronenbergian drawing," and people love to make those connections. So it was a combination of my own interests fueled by a desire that people have to impose that narrative or exaggerate that. I knew that was going to happen and decided to not worry about it and do whatever was interesting to me. And first of all, he’s had a really long and interesting career. A lot of people are like, well this is a horror film and your dad’s a horror director, but he hasn’t really made a straight horror film in quite a long time. Also, I didn’t want to define myself in opposition to that stuff because that would be purely defining myself in terms of his career and I don’t think I could work for an honest place if I was doing that. 

Do you pay attention to what people have been saying about the film thus far?
Just a little bit. It starts to wig me out if I see too much, I feel too exposed. But it’s been getting the full spectrum of reviews from the most loathing and hatred to appreciation beyond what I think it deserves and everything in between. 

So what is it about film that you love in comparison to literature or drawing, what made you want to really focus on this?
I like that it contains those other things. And collaboration can be horrible if it’s going wrong, but there’s something about collaborating and finding your material on the day, in a moment that’s very appealing because you discover stuff and sometimes find something that’s better than what you were thinking. It’s kind of exciting to just point a camera and work on something with a bunch of people and see what comes out of it. 

Visually, did you have any influences on how you wanted the film to shot or the overall aesthetics?
A lot of my influences are indirect, so it’s usually more unconsciously. In pre-production we got really excited about Romanian New Wave and about Dogtooth and Alps, but I don’t really think those influences ended up being visible. Originally we thought it was going to be a bit more naturalistic and then once we started shooting it was obvious that having a more stylized, like almost noir thing going on, that was the stuff that was working and I wanted to go where it wanted to go and not fight that. 

Did you watch your father’s films growing up?
I saw Fast Company quite a bit because it was about car racing and not a horror film but I didn’t see most of his other films until I was a teenager or into my 20s. And I still haven’t seen all of them. I guess they weren’t exactly appropriate for Cronenberg family movie night.

Jessica Chastain is Probably So Excited to Star in Liv Ullmann’s ‘Miss Julie’

Jessica Chastain is most likely freaking out right now. The self-described "nerd" when quoting Brecht in her Critics Choice Award speech, has officially signed on for the lead role in Miss Julie, the upcoming Liv Ullmann-directed film. And for any classically-trained, serious actress with a love for both cinema and the stage this is kind of a dream come true. Not only will she be working with Ingmar Bergman’s muse and icon of painful cinema, but she’ll be getting to star in the film adaptation of Swedish playwright August Strindberg’s work. So it’s safe to assume she’s pretty happy right now—you know, aside from the fact that at she’ll probably take home a well-earned Oscar in just a few weeks.

Chastain will be starring opposite Collin Farrell in the film that already has critics and audiences buzzing with excitement and/or jeaously. As a reworking of Strindberg’s play and Ullmann’s first time behind the camera in over a decade, the controversial 1894-set film that dives into issues of class, sexuality, and gender is set on a midsummer night and "follows a woman trying to escape an existence cramped by social mores who suddenly drawn to a senior servant." Samantha Morton (whom we recently saw in Cosmopolis) is also set to appear in the film that Ullman "said in the past she’d use Irish actors as servants and British as the masters of the house" for. And although Chastain may be neither of those, there’s no doubt she can pull off the role of a strong-willed aristocrat who "longs to fall from her pillar."

Apparently Chastain has been "weighing several offers" in terms of her 2013 post-Ocar nom schedule and after years of hard work, it seems like she really is becoming the most sought after woman in Hollywood. And honestly, that’s kind of an incredible thing when the only reputation to proceed her is just how damn talented she is. As the first official new role she’s signed on for in the new year, this has certainly set the bar high. 

David Cronenberg Reunites with Don DeLillo to Star in ‘Body Art’

As one could have foreseen, confounding writer Don DeLillo and director David Cronenberg are melding worlds yet again. But this time sans Robert Pattinson. After their creative success with last summer’s perplexing and guttral, Cosmopolis, the two are collaborating once more to bring another one of DeLillo’s acclaimed works to the screen. Cronenberg will star in the cinematic adapation of The Body Artist, reports Variety. At the helm will be Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino, whose incredible keen sense of authentic, subtle dramatics and beauty brought us the richly powerful I Am Love. He will also be penning the adaptation, now titled Body Art. The film will center around Isabelle Huppert (recently seen in Amour), as well as the man of many faces, Denis Lavant (who just gave one of the best performances of the year in Holy Motors). 

DeLillo’s novel is a phantasmagoric story that explore’s the abnormal grieving process of Lauren Hartke, a performance artist whose husband has recently commited suicide. Described as a "ghost story" due to the engimatic presence of a figure that appears to be living in the upstairs room of her home, DeLillo’s complex tale provides the perfect vehicle for Huppert’s raw, visceral, and always slightly strange acting style. She will take on the leading role with her male counterparts in their respective parts in what sounds like material these actors were made for. With this storyline and this cast, one can almost envision myriad variations on the film now—lurking between the worlds of Michael Haneke, Leos Carax, and Cronenberg himself—which is truly a delight for the imagination.

Shooting is said to begin this summer and don’t worry, we’ll be keeping a close eye on this one. So here’s a video of interviews from 1983 on Videodrome to indulge in your Cronenberg passion for the day.

David Cronenberg: The Oscars Are “Bullshit”

Oh, how I love an angry old white dude, and David Cronenberg is no exception. Over the summer, you may remember, the director went on the attack against "superhero movies," particularly The Dark Knight Rises (remember that?): "I think people who are saying, you know, Dark Knight Rises is, you know, supreme cinema art, I don’t think they know what the fuck they’re talking about." Bless his heart! I love it. I love him. I’ve only seen, like, three of his movies, but I love him. So angry! Rich and angry people: my favorite. Anyway, last month, in an interview with Movieline, Ol’ Cronie announced that he’s got a new thing he hates: Oscar season.

You and me both, pal, but I imagine Cronenberg’s disdain for awards shows stems from the fact that nobody gives him any awards. (I just find them exhausting, even if there’s nothing better on this planet to live-tweet.) Of course, he claims that isn’t so:

The Blu-ray release of Cosmopolis is coming out in the heart of Oscar-campaign season. I get the sense it doesn’t bug you too much that this film isn’t being discussed more as a contender.
Yes. Every year I try to be as disconnected as possible. This year it’s been very easy because we haven’t been nominated for any awards. It’s not sour grapes, it’s not compensation; it’s a relief. It’s very easy to get caught up in it if you are nominated. The people who are releasing the movie get excited, they want you to do more, and you understand it because the awards can maybe get more people to see the film. This, on its face, is a good thing. However, it is all bullshit, it is all annoying and it is all very problematical. But it gives people stuff to write about, gives structure, we understand. But I won’t be watching any of the awards shows.

It’s not just showing up that night, there’s months of campaigning.
Oh, yes. I’ve talked with several people, one of whom was Denys Arcand, a French Canadian director who won the Best Foreign Language Oscar for The Barbarian Invasions — I know him well. He said he would never, ever do it again. He said it was a year, an incredibly intense year, and ultimately rather boring. Because he’s not doing anything creative at all, just selling.

I dunno, I thought a lot of the art-making process involved selling (as in, selling your idea to people so they will give you money to make it), but what do I know? Well, I do know this: I’d really, really, really like it if Cronenberg were to join Twitter and live-tweet the Oscars with me. I bet that dude hates Seth MacFarlane. 

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The Best of BlackBook’s 2012 Film Coverage

2012 was an interesting year for cinema—whether it be Hollywood franchise blockbusters, independent stage-play-turned-comedies , or haunting and heartbreaking foreign dramas. In the first half of the year, we saw young filmmakers such as a Brit Marling, Benh Zeitlin, and Leslye Headland debut their innovative and fresh take on modern stories, with films that established them as unique new voices of independent American cinema. Hollywood staples David O. Russell, Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson, and Whit Stillman once again pleased audiences and won critical praise for their idiosyncratic features. And then there were the beautifully guttural foreign films from Michael Haneke, Miguel Gomes, and Leos Carax that constantly reinvent, not only what film can be, but the experiential nature of cinema as well. 

So as the year draws to a close and we begin to anticipate next year’s film slate, here’s the best in BlackBook’s film coverage of the past twelve months—highlighting our favorite films of 2012 that will linger on in history and the one’s to breakout next year’s biggest stars.

Holy Motors
Silver Linings Playbook

Damsels in Distress

Django Unchained

Moonrise Kingdom
The Deep Blue Sea
The Queen of Versailles
Beasts of the Southern Wild

Sound of My Voice
Wuthering Heights

The Loneliest Planet
Sleepwalk with Me

Beware of Mr. Baker
Anna Karenina
The Imposter

The Snowtown Murders
The Perks of Being a Wallflower

‘Cosmopolis’ Guarantees Some Huffy Walk-Outs

Maybe this is naked metropolitan bias, but I’d thought the audience for an art-house David Cronenberg flick at Lincoln Center would know what they were getting into. Not true! A good handful of moviegoers shelled out $13 for a ticket to Cosmopolis on Saturday night and ran for the hills halfway through. There are a multitude of factors to consider in such a decision.

First of all, the exquisite oddity of hearing dialogue by Don DeLillo, who authored the short novel on which the film was based, out loud. It sure doesn’t sound like how people talk, and unless you give yourself over to its strange, deadpan, techno-plastic cadences, it will ruin everything. If you accept this manner of speech, however, the script is actually quite funny, and people were laughing all over, even those who mentioned in front-lobby whispers that they hadn’t read the book.

They laughed, that is, until some outburst of INTENSE CRONENBERGIAN VIOLENCE. You had to know these were coming, right? Watch out, a dude gets stabbed in the eye. Repeatedly.

This is intercut with a lot of "action" set in the interior of a limo (the ultra-rich protagonist is attempting to get across town for a highly meaningful haircut on a day of apocalyptic traffic, to say nothing of his own self-destruction), meaning there’s not a lot to look at except Robert Pattinson’s forehead, which my wife kept pointing out regardless. Compound this with the weird and processed digital shots—rumor has it Croney will never shoot in film again—and you realize you might have done well to wait and watch on Netflix Streaming.

Still, you have a creepy, challenging, high-wire act of a film, one that moreover touches the third rail of data-saturated global capitalism like the a throbbing, painful nerve that it is. You may wail, as did a woman sitting behind me, “What is wrong with this guy?!” after every bit of erratic on-screen behavior—but at least you’re asking the right question.

David Cronenberg Hates Batman

Cosmopolis, David Cronenberg’s adaptation of the Don DeLillo novel, opens today following weeks of a post-cheating scandal media blitz that has blown up in its leading actor (and BlackBook cover boy) Robert Pattinson’s face. He’s hurting! He’s confused! People are forcing him to eat on camera! And everyone forgot about poor David Cronenberg, the beloved director behind cult hits like Scanners, Dead Ringers, Videodrome (and also the unfortunate A Dangerous Method, but we’ll let that one slide). What’s a critically acclaimed director to do in order to get people to pay attention to him? Well, bash Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise, of course.

In an interview with Next Movie, Cronenberg is pretty frank when it comes to his feelings about the artistic merit of superhero movies, in which he finds absolutely nothing to gush over:

David, you’ve done drama and horror. Some fairly formidable directors have branched out into superhero movies pretty beautifully —is that something you would consider doing?
DC: I don’t think they are making them an elevated art form. I think it’s still Batman running around in a stupid cape. I just don’t think it’s elevated. Christopher Nolan’s best movie is Memento, and that is an interesting movie. I don’t think his Batman movies are half as interesting though they’re 20 million times the expense. What he is doing is some very interesting technical stuff, which, you know, he’s shooting IMAX and in 3-D. That’s really tricky and difficult to do. I read about it in American Cinematography Magazine, and technically, that’s all very interesting. The movie, to me, they’re mostly boring.

Do you think the subject matter prohibits the elevated art form?
DC: Absolutely. Anybody who works in the studio system has got 20 studio people sitting on his head at every moment, and they have no respect, and there’s no…it doesn’t matter how successful you’ve been. And obviously Nolan has been very successful. He’s got a lot of power, relatively speaking. But he doesn’t really have power.

So that’s a no.
DC: I would say that’s a no, you know. And the problem is you gotta… as I say, you can do some interesting, maybe unexpected things. And certainly, I’ve made the horror films and people say, "Can you make a horror film also an art film?" And I would say, "Yeah, I think you can."

But a superhero movie, by definition, you know, it’s comic book. It’s for kids. It’s adolescent in its core. That has always been its appeal, and I think people who are saying, you know, Dark Knight Rises is, you know, supreme cinema art, I don’t think they know what the fuck they’re talking about.

Well, now my dreams of watching The Riddler’s head explode in David Cronenberg’s Batman’s Back have been DASHED AGAINST THE ROCKS. Friday mornings, man. What a bummer. 

David Cronenberg’s ‘Cosmopolis’ Gets an American Trailer

When David Cronenberg’s repressed psycho-sexual snoozefest A Dangerous Method was released, I was disappointed to find the only presence of his signature fascination with body horror was limited to Keira Knightley’s jutting jaw. For a moment there, I felt saddened that the man who gave us Videodrome and Dead Ringers and is known for visually-striking and mind-melding thrillers had ventured into the world of the cerebral in a way that seemed stifling, as if he left himself behind and made someone else’s film. However, when I heard he was adapting Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis, my cinema-sense perked up and I thought this was something he would really be able to take a bite out of. 

The film tells the story of young millionaire, Eric Packer (played by the pale—but for the moment, alive—Robert Pattinson), as he rides around in his limo on a mission for a haircut that evolves into an odyssey when he is derailed by a series of traffic jams and his world begins to unravel around him. And finally: an American trailer was released last night, and it’s clear that some dark themes dominate the film: the seduction of death, the threat of murder, and the thrill of the world shattering. What more could one ask for?

If it is a true return to form for Cronenberg, all the tween Twilight fans rush to cinemas with their adult companions are in for a real treat. 

What To Watch At Cannes

Today the 65th Annual Cannes Film Festival kicks off, meaning gorgeous people are spending time watching movies and frolicking on French beaches while you sit in the office and read about it. Glamorous, no?

Say what you will about the celebrity industrial complex, but at least the Cannes fest does feature some excellent films—and is always good for an unscripted moment—that will eventually make their way to a cineplex near you. But what to watch?

Cosmopolis: How could a Don DeLillo book turned into a David Cronenberg movie go wrong? Starring an increasingly serious Robert Pattinson as a Wall Streeter whose world collapses on a drive across Manhattan, the movie is giving us shades of American Psycho but with something like the Batmobile. Sold!

On The Road: The Motorcycle Diaries director Walter Salles takes on Jack Kerouac’s legendary book with the help of, uh, Kristen Stewart. Sure it’ll probably glamorize the Beats and have some sort of moral, but all of this naked driving looks worth the price of admission.

Rise of the Guardians: One of the festival’s opening pictures, Dreamworks’ Guardians is about an Avengers-like team of Santa, The Tooth Fairy, The Sandman and The Easter Bunny who team up to save the planet from evil. The movie will be released stateside around the holidays and is sure to grace every plastic soft drink cup you purchase toward the end of 2012.

Rust and Bone: From the director of 2009’s big-deal film A Prophet, this French flick delves into the bond between a homeless man and a whale trainer played by Marion Cotillard.

Lawless: Guy Pearce, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman and Shia LaBeouf star in this Prohibition-era tale about schemers, bootleggers and lawmen during the Great Depression.

The Dictator: There’s also Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest, The Dictator, for which he reportedly paraded a camel down one of Cannes main streets as a publicity stunt. It might not be brilliant, or even close to as funny as some of his older work, but there will be a laugh or two. And you might as well embrace it, avoiding this will be difficult.