Cannes has become, in a way, the sundowner party of Day of the Locusts. There was once a world, much deprecated at the time, of patriarchal studios, star machines, genre movies, fan magazines, searchlights, and filmmakers who wanted their movies to play big to everybody all over the world. Now what survives of that old world, hunched and inward, is no longer show business but just--business. A screenplay is evaluated for its demographic appeal, its video game possibilities, its spin-offs, its potential for commercial tie-ins. The suspense of its premiere is diluted by pale, gnome-like creatures hunched over computers down in their parents' basements, busy as bees ripping off video copies of new films and posting them on the internet, to be downloaded by thieves who get more of a thrill out of stealing a film that by watching it.
The critics here are not on junkets. Many of them paid their own way, because if you're a movie critic, baby, this is where you gotta get your ass. Back home, most editors care more about Brad Pitt than Quentin Tarantino. That would be all right if they cared about Pitt for the right reasons. But the American press has been dumbed-down so much that some papers seem edited for an audience that does most of its reading off of TV screens. I ran into an old friend who has free-lanced for USA Today. "Yesterday, Lars von Trier's "Antichrist" was the big story," he told me. "USA Today featured coverage of Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge, arriving at the Carlton Hotel with Jenny McCarthy in a horse-drawn carriage."
Is there an event or festival to which a Drama critic better get his or her ass?
Also, I wonder, is Ebert giving Cannes too much credit?