The 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival kicks off today and runs through May 26th (just in time for Arrested Development day). Like the pop-culture-savvy citizen I know you are, you’re probably interested to find out which films from this year’s festival will go on to fame and awards fortune. You may also find yourself standing next to a film snob at a cocktail party (you fancy, fancy human) within the next couple of weeks. This can be a tricky conversation to navigate if you own, say, fewer than ten Criterion Collection DVDs. I’ve got your back at this stressful cinematic time. Just follow these fool-proof rules and memorize some sample dialogue about this year’s movies, and you can handle any challenge a film snob throws at you. Yes you Cannes! Yes you Cannes!
Rule #1: Always lament the fact that you couldn’t make it to Cannes this year. Say it in a way that implies you A.) had the interest and the means to go in the first place, and B.) might have been to the festival before. If you’re in college, you can mention that you wanted to study abroad during the festival for your film degree but your schedule wouldn’t allow it. If you’re not in college, you can say that you couldn’t get time off work. Bonus points if you complain about it in a way that skewers “the system” and its lack of culture.
Rule #2: Go into the conversation with a few very obscure titles up your sleeve that have the potential to stump the film snob and trick him or her into thinking you are the snobbier one. One tactic is to start by mentioning this film to confuse the snob and make the rest of the discussion go more smoothly. Or you can save it for when you’re really lost and need to quickly change the topic. Your best bet is to go with a foreign film, but it’s safe to steer away from French films. Possibilities this year include Wara No Tate and Borgman.
Rule #3: Express skepticism about mainstream actors in indie roles. But then mention Ryan Gosling as a shining beacon of hope and say you’re conflicted. It’s always a good idea to say you’re playing “devil’s advocate” and defend the mainstream star of your choice.
Rule #4: If your brain freezes or the notes you scribbled on your wrist get smudged, always fall back on this one simple line: “I really like his early stuff.” It never fails. You don’t even have to be specific about who you’re talking about. It could be the director, it could be an actor. If the film snob asks for clarification, pull out one of those obscure foreign films I mentioned and change the subject. It all comes together.
Rule #5: If someone brings up a movie as a possible Oscar contender, write the Oscars off as all politics. This might be hard to do if you’re my kind of movie buff (the kind that isn’t ashamed to watch the Oscars), but it’s a good idea.
Now that you have these basic rules stored in your brain, let’s practice with some sample dialogue for a selection of buzzed-about movies from this year’s festival. It’ll give you a chance to practice the rules while memorizing some comments that are specific to each film. A lot of it is just random phrases that ring a bell, but it should work. Again, when in doubt, foreign film!
Click over to the next page to study the trailers and rehearse your lines.