Film Scouts Diaries

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

by Dr. R. Flickheimer, PhD.

Cannes, 15-16 May, 1996, 00:00 (+1)

After five days being singed by intense overexposure to the bonfire of vanities that is the Festival (I only learned today the old canard that describes the annual descent of the elite to Cannes: "The Egos Have Landed!"), I developed wanderlust, and a hope that the Peugeot 106 might deliver me from this particular circle of the inferno. A series of cynical visions populated my thoughts: that I had been transformed into a Dermatologist, and was now being forced to attend a 10 day long Proctologists' convention to abide by a new directive in managed health care; or that I had been mysteriously transported, and was now being held prisoner on the median of the FDR Drive somewhere between Houston and 15th Street. I began to wonder whether this delirium could survive far from the Croisette, and plotted an escape.

Following a brief neuropsychological examination conducted over the debris of luncheon at the Long Beach seaside restaurant, I surreptitiously mentioned my escape plans to a trusted friend, who agreed that a quest of this type might offer the only clear path to mental hygiene. We stole rapidly along the Croisette, dodging the paparazzi, weaving through the hordes of on-lookers, avoiding the menacing stares of various life-forms imitating food-stuffs. The Cabalistic rituals of yesterday had led me to suspect the motives of all species populating the habitat within a 3 mile radius of the Palais des Festivals, and I did not breathe easily until we slipped the Peugeot past the Port Pierre Canto, along the coast road, East towards Antibes. By the time we reached the Hotel du Cap, the veil of paranoia was already starting to lift, and after parking off the cobbled streets of Vielle Antibes, I was positively cheerful. Climbing the winding alleys to the Chateau Grimaldi, towards the Picasso Museum, I joked casually that there seemed something eery about our trek, that I sensed we were still in Rosicrucian Territory. And then it happened. We turned the corner, and looming before us was - La Cathedrale of Antibes! While none of the other tourists appeared to be distressed, there was no escaping the signature Radiating Pyramid of the Masonic cult in bas relief, gleaming from the pediment, nor the characteristic granite Rosy Cross, a full 12 feet in diameter, marking the footpath entrance to this shrine of the Knights Templar. While I struggled to remain calm during a rapid review of the Picasso collection, I knew we had kilometers to go before we could truly escape the Conspiracy of Cannes '96.

We continued East, through some industrial waste-lands, and finally upwards, tunneling through the hills to Monaco. Then sliding down the winding slopes that, in only a few days, would witness themind-numbing screams of grand prix race cars, we found peace at last in the quiet squares of the old city, absorbed the view over Monaco harbor from the turrets of the Palais, and slipped discreetly into a salon for haircuts that I hoped would help disguise our identities, and perhaps throw the Masons off our track. Later, touring the Casino, offering a token to the Gods of gambling and enjoying a 5-to-1 payoff from our first offering to a one-armed bandit, it was easy to enjoy the sunset views over the Mediterranean from the American Bar of the Hotel de Paris. And at last, there was the long sought after Macallan single-malt whisky; which at only 26 USD per glass (and that for only the 12 year, the 18 year and 25 year variants not available), somehow seemed a bargain.

This tranquility could not last forever, but armed with at least a few hours of sanity, it was possible to return to Cannes with some peace of mind, some perspective on the Festival, perhaps it was not really all sound and fury? But emerging from the parking lot beneath the Palais des Festivals, we were immediately assaulted by rocket fire, as the annual fire-works turned the night to high noon, and raised the decibel level of the Croisette to unprecedented levels. I took cover in my apartment, and changing into more appropriate evening clothes, waited for the battle to end before continuing my mission. Inspired by victory over the one-armed-bandit in Monaco, I dropped in to the Carlton Casino to try my luck, and pay regards to the Casino Girls who had rescued me from that homicidal sheik two nights earlier. And there were Amanda (dealing black jack) and Sandra (standing listlessly by a spinning roulette wheel) - draped in beige satin folds that brought to mind the valances of a mortuary. They most appropriately presided over this funereal procession, the gentle bone-clattering of 500 FF chips being swept to their final resting places somewhere in the crematoria of the Casino, symbols of the final sacrament, and laying-to-rest of the one thing most important to the denizens of Cannes - *cash*. Although the research budget did not include a major commitment to experiments of this type, I did appropriate some some funds that had been reserved for pilot studies, to participate in the process, and survived the fast hands of Amanda, even Sandra's hypnotic gyres. Touched though I was by these last rites, I stayed on the left bank of this pecuniary River Styx, gently refusing the boat ride from Charon (cleverly but thinly disguised as "Sharon", who stood beside Sandra and urged a few more goes at Roulette), and returned to the cool night air for further investigation.

The evening buzz continued along the Rue de Republique, first at the Petit Carlton (which I have now learned is more appropriately referred to as the "Petty Carlton"), and then Brumelles multi-level piano bar. No matter what level was chosen for observation, the crooning of "New York, New York" by a French chanteuse, accompanied by a talented pianist who was nevertheless restricted to hammering out melodies over a synthetic rhythm section, generated all the look and feel of Cannes Karaoke. This scene was populated primarily by species already identified and classified during prior investigations, although it must be said that the late-night dowagers were more abundant here than in some other venues.

Sensing that my work here was unlikely to yield more important observations, I returned to transmit these notes to you,

Your fatigable,

Reichard Flickheimer

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