“One reason for joy [at this year’s Cannes Film Festival] is that word ‘art,’ which isn’t always mentioned in the same breath, much less the same paragraph, when Americans talk about movies,” writes N.Y. Times critic Manohla Dargis in a good sum-up piece about the best snob highbrow films that have played there.
“One of the sustaining pleasures of Cannes is that it allows you to immerse yourself fully from early morning to evening in the kind of aesthetically adventurous, intellectually exhilarating cinematic practices that end up in the American art-house ghetto or being shut out of theaters completely.”
The reasons for the shut-out are sad or tragic or both, but I’ve always said and still believe that the greatest films are those that appeal to not just the Manohla Dargis crowd but also the somewhat more primitive, less intellectually high falutin’ moviegoers. Most aesthetically adventurous, intellectually exhilarating cinematic practices do not straddle this divide, which is probably inevitable and natural. Almost all truly great films are met (at first) with indifference or derision by the mob.
But I’ve always tried to live in (and keep in touch with) both worlds. All my life I’ve tried to absorb and understand the finest films made by the greatest filmmakers, but at the same time apply the educated but not-overly-elitist criteria that I absorbed from my suburban middle-class New Jersey upbringing, which was influenced by the fact that I was always an all-around B student except when it came to knowing films and the film world. (I was also pretty good in art class.)