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The jokes started before the screenings even began — ****, they practically wrote themselves: “The Dead Don’t Die” wouldn’t just be the opening night selection of the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, it could also be its tagline. Har har.
If Cannes has managed to remain synonymous with the cinema itself, that’s partially because people talk about them both like they’re hospice patients. Every year, thousands of journalists from all corners of the globe come to the French Riviera dressed for a party, but prepared for a funeral. And while that attitude has become a bit pro forma (and performative) in the digital era, it’s hard to deny that the 72-year-old festival has aged into an elegant anachronism.
Take - Time - Cannes - Century - Institution
It’s a take as old as time: Cannes is a 20th century institution that defiantly leans into the headwinds of a 21st century world — it’s the most holy event of its kind, and also the most resistant to change. While the rest of the film industry marches forward, Cannes is happy to hold its ground; while other festivals embrace the future, this one is determined to honor the past. Sometimes that might be for the better (e.g. a refusal to unconditionally surrender in the streaming wars), and sometimes it’s definitely for the worse (e.g. a retrograde disinterest in female directors).
Whichever way you slice it, the fact remains that Cannes sees itself as a proud beacon of tradition in a time of unchecked progress, while critics are more inclined to think of it as a zombie in a tuxedo, muttering “cin-e-ma” from its cold blue lips as it lumbers down the red carpet outside the Grand Théâtre Lumière. In that light, kicking off the 2019 program with a meta riff on George Romero almost seemed like a calculated act of self-parody; like Cannes was insisting...
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