TROUBLE CITY

THE DEVIN'S ADVOCATE: RE-WHORE-TERS

Movie NewsDevin FaraciComment

http://chud.com/nextraimages/journalist.jpgWong Kar Wai. David Cronenberg. Atom Egoyan. Jane Campion. Roman Polanski. Takeshi Kitano. Gus Van Sant. These are some of the people who took the stage at a press conference in Cannes this weekend; all had made one of 33 three minute long ‘Chacun Son Cinema’ (To Each His Own Cinema, Indiewire helpfully decodes) films that celebrated the 60th anniversary of the festival.

Near the start of the press conference, Cronenberg declared cinema dead; this inspired an argument between Polanski and Egoyan about the fate and future of cinema. It must have been pretty cool to be there, and I’d love to get some of these guys together for a long debate on just such a topic. But the questions from the press corps soon went other places, and after a while they went places Polanski didn’t like – no, they didn’t start asking him about his criminal record, they just got pretty dopey. Reports Indiewire:

"This is a rare and unique opportunity to see a gathering of such important directors and it's a shame to have such poor questions," Polanski said pointedly, charging reporters with using their computers to simply cut and paste banal information. "You're no longer interested in what's going on in the cinema."

He left the stage at that point, and more power to him. How much banality should a great talent have to endure to sell his product? It reminds me of something that happened last week: while waiting for my one on one with William Friedkin at the Bug junket, he got angry at a TV reporter who posed the idiotic ‘question’: ‘Tell us about your bug problem!’ Bug is an intense psychological drama and this person wants to waste her few minutes with a lame cutesy question? Friedkin should have decked her.

I’m sure that the quality of entertainment journalism has always been so poor, but from where I’m sitting – nestled deep among these retards – it’s getting unbearable. My upcoming move to LA makes it only more so; the LA junket crowd is a spectacularly terrible bunch, a group of imbeciles and nitwits who I don’t think even generally LIKE movies*. Just this past weekend I was engaged in an e-mail back and forth with a Left Coast junketeer; the grapevine had brought her word that I was shit-talking her. True enough – I had been complaining about what an untalented hack she was, how she couldn’t bother fact or spell checking the transcripts she ran from roundtables where she rarely, if ever, asked any questions (and you can bet that if she did pose one to the talent, it wouldn’t be a stumper). The girl is vapid and has a pretty face and a nice smile, and she’s doing more video for her site these days, which is great since she has all the basic skills of a weatherman. At least I assume – I’ve never seen her work in front of a green screen.

I’m sure that she’s a nice enough person to live next to or to carpool with or something, but as a professional she leaves everything to be desired, as do most of the people at these junkets, who are just looking for a couple of sentences to plug into sidebars in Teen People or to fill out an article on ‘Latest Diets of the Stars’ in US Weekly. These people don’t think about movies on any level beyond the most obvious, and ask the kinds of boring questions that are answered in the press notes. The sad fact is that I’m not particularly gifted when it comes to interviews, but when I’m put up against these empty-headed goons I come across like Mike Fucking Wallace. It seems beyond tragic to spend your few minutes with an Oscar winner or a living legend asking them about their exercise routine.

I wish I could hear the full tape or read the full transcript of the press conference; I want to know how low Polanski’s tolerance for idiocy is. I’ve dealt with international journalists before, and they can be mind bogglingly shallow in what they care about, plus they often don’t have enough English to properly articulate their already retarded question (‘You shoes like?’), making it all so much more painful. I understand that there are different markets, and not everyone out there in medialand cares about movies the way that I do, as a real and meaningful art form. But those people should just go cover car shows or something.

*I'm obviously painting with a broad brush here - there are extraordinarily good reporters who do roundtables in LA, just as there are extraordinarily bad ones who do roundtables in New York. In my experience the ratio of bad to good is way out of whack in Los Angeles, though. Like 6:1.