For all its merits, the Cannes Film Festival is also a nexus where a number of the cardinal sins meet, have a few beers, and then go on a little rampage. Pride is perhaps the main offender, but that's primarily because the offence of rudeness was as inexplicably overlooked by the original compilers of the seven deadlies as Stanley Kubrick continually was by the Oscar voting drones.
Of course, back in the halcyon age of ye olde yore, ill manners were not so much of a problem as they are today. Y'see, in them there far-off days of distant past, taking the Glenn Hoddle view that people's status in life came via direct assignation from the Big G was not considered as utterly bat-shit crazy as it generally is today. Hence if you happened to be a monarch, you could be as much of a tyrannous arse-wipe to your subjects as you liked, seeing as God clearly reckoned you were great and they were all stinky knuckleheads. Consequently, any complaints from the multitude starving in abject poverty outside needed to be addressed to the bearded cloud-lurker, not your fragrant regal self.
And that's the kind of attitude often exuded by certain attendees of the Cannes Film Festival: that they are in no way fortunate to be here, instead there is simply no question that they wouldn't be. After all, they're more skill-o brilliant than a YouTube clip of a skateboarding squirrel and their sole woes in life come when others, inexplicably, fail to acknowledge this peerless awesomeness.
Having said that, there's no question that being here – at what during festival time does feel like the momentary epicentre of the entire movie industry – feeds one's pride. I mean, just a few years back I was penning fanzine scrawlings based on viewings of knackered old VHS copies of flicks taped off the telly so long ago that the adverts breaking up the action tended to feature the Scotch skeleton bopping along to bastardised Bo Diddley. So to go from manually folding the pages and inserting the staples into every issue of Belmondo Carno myself, to the sun-tickled environs of the Cote d'Azur, where you get to see the newest movies first AND catch a glimpse of Adrien Brody ambling round, looking a bit like a cross between Slash, ex of G 'n' R, and a tramp whose main food source is soggy cardboard from scavenged skips, is really quite something.
Yet, as I've previously written, exciting as it all is, Cannes is also as rigidly hierarchical as a secret subversive organisation in a Marvel comic book, or Homer Simpson's Stonecutters society. The accredited might not refer to each other as number one, number two (snigger), number three, etcetera, in descending order of importance, but we may as well do, given how entrenched the ranking system is, via the different coloured badges (yes, I got yellow again this year. The lowest of the low. If it was a Who album, it would be It's Hard. If it was a Brian De Palma movie, it would be Mission to Mars).
Film reviewing is an odd and lonely enough profession – all those hours spent in dark rooms, either watching films or coming with the words by which to describe them – that there is a certain camaraderie amongst many journalists when they all flung together at an event such as Cannes. But there is so often that latent frisson of one-upmanship, and this niggling tension, this air of pervasive suspicion, can even be used as a stick with which to whack we poor, confused hacks.
Take perhaps the most charmless event I've attended so far during this trip, when a veritable battalion of journalists were all reduced to arraying themselves in some kind of sub-Comic-Con line, under the glare of a baking south-of-France sun, and all were forced to beg for favours later in the fortnight. One look at that sorry farce and I said “Screw that,” deploying the immortal words of Emilio Estevez in the TV cut of Repo Man (one of those knackered old VHSs). Eschewing the queue, I handed in an interview request at the front desk, where it was immediately struck through before my eyes – partly because they had no prospect of a slot for me, and partly because the person doing the striking has sworn eternal allegiance to the Dark Lord, Beelzebub.
But, y'know, being in proximity to the film biz does very strange things to people. Plenty of people are a delight, but some are very strange creatures indeed. Take the guy who sat next to me on the flight over*, who played the part of huffy, Nathan Barley-esque “media-node” to perfection, from his Blackberry that he refused to turn off when we were landing, all the way down to his never-removed aviators and his Louis Vuitton man bag. The bag caused significant problems as it happened; when he bent down to stow the item, he revealed that he was wearing those idiot jeans that end somewhere round the back of the knees. I got such a face-full of the sour-faced git's derrière that I justifiably could have performed a citizen's arrest on a sexual assault charge.
*Incidentally, plane company who I flew with, I admire your dedication to first class travel, but if I had laid out an extra 500 notes and all I got was a curtain dividing me from my fellow travellers and extra legroom that would require a tape measure to even determine if it existed or not, then I would be less than impressed.
But, y'know, it is still is a pleasure and a privilege to be here. And the sun is shining. And there are always more movies to watch. Not just down at the Palais des Festivals either. Because if the outbreaks of ill manners ever get really too much for my sensitive self, then I can always retreat to the apartment which is hosting Indie's 2011 Cannes adventure and check out one of the selection of DVDs which have been left here for us.
Now, that's rude.