A slate of movies are opening this weekend, but few in Hollywood are talking about them. The main conversation is revolving around a very different set of films, many of which won't be released in this country for months -- if at all.
The Cannes International Film Festival began on Wednesday. The decades-old event might be the most glamorous of the film world. The Oscars in Hollywood simply can't compete with the French Riviera.
It also has a reputation as perhaps the most eminent of film festivals. Its top prize, the Palme d'Or, is more coveted than any other.
As Bill Murray said about Cannes at the press conference for "Moonrise Kingdom," the fabulous new Wes Anderson movie that opened the festival, "These are what we call art films." Had I been in the room, I wouldn't have laughed. At least not knowingly. Because the actor's comment isn't quite right -- and its inaccuracy hints at problems in Cannes' future.
Certainly, the films that compete for the Palme d'Or each year are, on the whole, serious films made by real artists. This year, for example, Anderson's film is up against new works by some of the world's greatest directors, including the Austrian master Michael Haneke, Romanian Cristian Mungiu and Canadian David Cronenberg.
But Cannes screens plenty of films out of competition. And every single year, it shows at least one movie that could not, by any stretch of the imagination, be called an "art film."
This year, it's "Madagascar 3," the latest in the DreamWorks Animation franchise.
One doubts the writers at Cahiers du Cinema have been clamoring to hear Ben Stiller, Jada Pinkett Smith and Chris Rock voice a bunch of animals again.
Last year saw "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides." Before that, the French screened Ridley Scott's "Robin Hood," which American critics declared rotten, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," and "U2 3D." In 2006, the festival showed both "The Da Vinci Code" and "X-Men: The Last Stand."
American film culture has penetrated even the most hallowed precincts of cinema elitism.
And why? It's not as if those films need the boost a showing at a film festival can give. Critics are also going to see these films anyway, so the makers don't need the somewhat captive audience on the Riviera.
The reason these big-budget blockbusters get shown at Cannes is for the red carpet buzz they provide. Newspapers around the world printed pictures of Johnny Depp when he showed up to promote "Pirates."
It's sad that Cannes feels the need to pander in this way. Critics attend each year, and file breathless reviews of the films they've just screened, because they care about movies as art. They'd still go if Depp and his superstar colleagues didn't.
But the festival might not make such big headlines without such big names. So those behind the glamorous Cannes might one day have to make a choice -- between its reputation and its fame.
Kelly Jane Torrance is The Washington Examiner's movie critic. Her reviews appear weekly and she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.