Cosmopolis, Robert Pattinson

Alfama Films

So now that Robert Pattinson's movie is going to be shown at Cannes, does that certify it as good or that we have to take him more seriously?
—Xtina, via the inbox

You speak of the drama Cosmopolis; we know this film is Extremely Important because it is based not on a mere novel but a piece of literature...high literature involving metaphors for failure and loss. And, yes, this movie is showing at the world's most prestigious fest. But none of that guarantees that the film is any good...

My proof? The history of Cannes itself. Cannes may be an important film festival, and that festival may happen in the cultural mecca of France. But that doesn't mean that everything that shows at Cannes is bona fide amazeballs.

After all, know what else is showing at Cannes this year?

Madagascar 3.

I'm sorry, that should read Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted.

Other films that have shown at Cannes in recent years include Kung Fu Panda; Kung Fu Panda 2; Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; Ocean's 13; Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides; X-Men: The Last Stand; The Da Vinci Code; Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and Drag Me to Hell.

So then why is Cannes still considered the world's most prestigious film festival? Because of how it divides the movies in its lineup. All the films I just mentioned above, not including Cosmopolis, were shown in a category called Out of Competition. That category is essentially reserved as a showcase for studios looking to drum up publicity and get some red carpet time for their stars.

Cosmopolis, meanwhile, is being shown In Competition. That means at least a few people at Cannes think it has some merit as as an artistic statement.

However, even that status doesn't mean Cosmopolis is good. Wanna see some other films that have appeared in competition? How about Gus Van Sant's Restless, a Mia Wasikowska flick that was supposed to be a spectacular acting debut for Dennis Hopper's son, Henry? Critics ruled otherwise.

Other recent films that have competed at Cannes include Angelina Jolie's Changeling, which earned decidedly mixed reviews; Fast Food Nation, which did even worse with critics and audiences alike; and Southland Tales. Remember that one? No?

All that said, here's what a Cannes competition selection does mean: Somebody out there thinks Cosmopolis has artistic merit and big awards potential. Whether you agree is no guarantee.

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