Cannes plants ‘Tree’

Brad Pitt-Sean Penn starrer to debut on Croisette

Few world-class auteurs can keep a film festival waiting like Terrence Malick and Wong Kar Wai, especially when that festival is Cannes. Wong became notorious for his down-to-the-wire dashes to the Croisette with “2046” and “In the Mood for Love,” and last year, Malick kept fest officials waiting until the last minute before it became disappointingly clear that “The Tree of Life” would not be ready in time.

But it’s ready now. Malick’s long-gestating Brad Pitt-Sean Penn starrer is finally set to bow at the French Riviera fest in advance of its May 27 release through Fox Searchlight.

Wong’s latest opus, “The Grandmasters,” is another story, as the Ip Man biopic is reportedly nowhere near completion. Still, fest director Thierry Fremaux has a wealth of tantalizing options before him in what’s shaping up to be a vintage Cannes, especially after last year’s mostly underwhelming lineup. The competition looks particularly strong on returning Palme d’Or laureates, with Gus Van Sant’s “Restless,” Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s “The Kid With a Bike,” Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia” and Nanni Moretti’s “We Have a Pope” all expected to be in attendance.

A bigger question mark is Michael Haneke’s “Love.” The Austrian auteur began lensing the Isabelle Huppert starrer only in February on a tight 40-day shoot, but rumors suggest the picture could be finished in time. It may go down to the wire, but Haneke is one director who knows how to meet a deadline.

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