Film Scouts Diaries

1996 Cannes Film Festival Diaries
On the Neuropsychodynamics of Festival Life Forms, Part III

by Dr. R. Flickheimer, PhD.

May 11, 1996

It's been a long day since . . . when was that? Oh yes, yesterday.

Serving as Q's secretary for the Tristar deal was not necessarily a bad idea, and the Tristar gang seemed to go along well with the routine (those sexists actually ate up the male sec routine), but they seem to have some funny ideas about product (isn't virtual just like the real thing?) and profit (after haggling to obtain NIMH funding for so long I always thought "non-profit" meant next-to-godliness). But things seemed to head south after their fearless leader (RS) had an inauspicious encounter with our waitress, in whom he seemed to have a particular interest, leading him to order some items that were apparently off the menu, but she said these items were not available, and surprisingly he soured after that, and we wished them all a cheerful good night. Perhaps I misunderstood the French?

But today was brighter. The sun was vivid, the Mediterranean shone as in advertisements, and the overall mood of the Fest crowd perked. This deserves qualification. I had always thought that no group of individuals could be more neurotic than psychologists, psychiatrists, neuropsychologists. In fact, during a conference in New Orleans of the International Neuropsychological Society I concluded that no single group of individuals could appear so uncomfortable in *any* setting. But I was wrong. The Fest species, according to initial tallies, can be divided into two groups: (1) those displaying obvious and intense anxiety, eyes diverted to every novel element in their visual field, pacing petulantly around circles of those with more impressive credentials; and (2) those exerting tremendous effort to show that they are not anxious, with gestures drawn out in time, gazes gradually averted, movements slowed to give a sense of calm and indifference. There seems no middle ground here. Perhaps there is a third group, the "self-aware cynics", and it seems likely that I will have to investigate this further, because the ennui generated by the other two groups is more stultifying than the noonday sun.

But I wander in generalizations, and the specifics bear note. Further neuropsychological investigation reveals that Q has a partial Gerstmann's syndrome: poor writing (and spelling), right-left disorientation, dyscalclulia (bad with simple math), and finger agnosia (can't tell which finger is touched when not looking; although this exam could have been contaminated by a combination of gnocchi and Chianti). These symptoms occur together with incredible higher order math abilities (which apparently leads to efficient coding in internet applications), an awesome spatial sensitivity, and a capacity to read other people's minds. The famous Neurologist Norman Geschwind described cases like this - but I didn't expect to find a classic involved in the film industry. It seems to be adaptive, for Q is now closing on a deal with another (sorry, I had to sign an affidavit of confidentiality - did I also mention that a feature of the syndrome is suspiciousness?) Fortune 50 corporation.

I finally encountered J, who got me into this mess in the first place. Thank god she oriented me to the zeitgeist and several important venues worthy of investigation. We toured the Croisette, and she alerted me to important subtleties of the Majestic lounge (including of course, the 'Reserve' section), the obscenities of the 'new' Hilton casino (who couldn't love the pavilion of eight-foot tall plaster burlesque queens modulated with six-foot neon wands... wonder what the symbolism is there?), and the decorum required on the Carlton Terrace after hours (which apparently does not include wearing leopard suits; indeed the twin leopard ladies - ostensibly a long-time Fest Fixture - were gently escorted back to the lobby, which some say is their natural habitat). J had further solo work to do, but kindly pointed me to the 'Petit Carlton', which by the time I arrived at the bar, was 12 deep on the surrounding sidewalk.

As an unobtrusive observer, disguised behind a glass of Glen Morangie (doesn't any bar in Cannes carry the Macallan 18?), I encountered M.J.F.M.M., nominally the CEO of 'Wildshot' Pictures, of Amsterdam (do the Dutch all have 5 initials? I'll just call him M). We had a cheerful chat about the effects of films on the human brain, which seemed to attract the attention of KM, a young German 'independent' film director (and actress), who is two inches taller than either of us, and seemed to have *much* longer legs. She seemed particularly interested in a documentary M was planning in the South Pacific, and when they started speaking German exclusively, and M began to measure KM's limbs, to determine whether she might fill a cameo role in his production, I decided my skills were no longer essential.

But the night, still young, led me back to the Croisette, for further investigation of the later-evening life forms. A predominance of 50-ish men wearing evening attire, escorted by 20-ish women with distracting hair coloration (could there be a distinct species of blondes with more than an inch of dark roots?) populated the streets. Does this occur in daylight as well? I'll have to check tomorrow - perhaps I've identified a rare nocturnal subspecies; I wonder what they eat? Not dismayed by this potential discovery, I sallied forth into another establishment on the Croisette that appeared teeming with life. I attempted to camouflage myself again behind a glass of the Glen Morangie, but was almost immediately apprehended by twins - Maryline and Michele - who claimed to be from Italy, and involved in covert operations relevant to the American mission in Sarajevo. When this militant pair suggested that I join them in a demilitarized zone somewhere East of the Carlton, I suddenly became aware of the danger this might pose... thanks to my studies of the evolutionary and organismic biology of animals, I am familiar with predatory creatures of the night. I barely escaped, to prepare these notes for you, and hope I will recover sufficient strength to report more tomorrow...

Your humble correspondent,

Dr. Reichard Flickheimer

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