"How can they show their faces and have the Trainspotting party here?" says one infuriated English BFI cineaste type. "What a sell-out. What's this got to do with the polemics of drug-taking in Leith?"
Well, she's half-right. This party has got nothing to do with the sufferings of the housing-estate poor, but it does have a tremendous amount to do with drug-taking. The whole place is shrouded in a cloud of cocaine, the bars and dance-floor jam-packed with people who really, really love me, who really want to hold me and have a little happy sob.
"Look at this," says Peter, the producer of the one-day forthcoming Chloe - A Study in Good and Evil. "Isn't life just wonderful? Wonderful to be alive. Look at where we are. We're in Cannes. Wonderful. Look. There's that girl from Kids. Marvellous film. Marvellous, marvellous film. Look. There's Mick Jagger. What a wonderful, wonderful man. What do you do for exercise around here? Lets go for a jog."
It was a tough task getting into this, the hottest ticket of all the hot tickets on the Croisette this week. Even the Coen Brothers' Fargo dinner-do, where they shipped in acres of fake snow, hired out a fabulous villa in the hills, and didn't invite me, has been overshadowed by the Trainspotting party. Of course, there have been endless B-list alternatives all week: some crappy drinks party to celebrate film production in northern Ontario, a Meet-the-Minister-of-Culture-for-Romania-Luncheon, and - rather more thrillingly - the Lick And Suck soiree, to celebrate the launch of an all-new porn video distribution company. Although Lick And Suck are not, strictly speaking, key players in the movie industry, the party has attracted widespread interest and a frenzied mob of international journalists and tourists bombard the Noga Hilton beach, where the party is occurring.
The party begins at 6pm, and we are greeted on arrival by the sight of three topless women clutching trays of dark chocolates carefully moulded into sculptures of erect penises. This concept turns out to be a mistake, however. Although I've no doubt that they are very tasty, the prospect of chewing on disembodied chocolate genitalia leaves the majority here less than enthralled - aside from one particularly weird, sweating journalist who, I observe, greedily gnaws glans after glans, but gingerly - and furtively - discards the scrota in a napkin.
"Why are you doing this?" I ask him.
"I'm not," he replies. "What the hell are you talking about? I'm not doing anything of the sort."
The porn people are grouchy and defensive here in Cannes. When you grin, they say: "What's so funny, huh?" That's what Leena - star of Delirious Passion - said when I grinned, anyway. They think we're all laughing at them. They think we think they're all disgusting and stupid.
"X-rated movies are definitively part of the cinematic art", says Philippe, Lick and Suck's MD, "yet the International Film Festival at Cannes never gave us any award."
To most, this decision is understandable. Up and Cummers and Anal Obsession (both of which are up for Best Gang-Bang Award at the nearby Hot D'Or porn festival) are undoubtedly fine examples of their genre, but would almost certainly fare poorly in the running for the Palme D'Or, bearing in mind the cultural haughtiness of Francis Coppola's jury this year.
The high spot of the evening is the appearance of Tania, a "celebrated starlet and the beautiful star of The Perfume of Matilda", who will appear naked from behind a curtain at exactly 8pm. When that moment finally arrives, the lights go out, and a spotlight circles the room and eventually rests on the dark red curtain. A hush envelopes the throng, as the curtain slowly - tantalisingly - opens. Sure enough, Tania is nude, smiling a broad smile, with her arms up around her head. She bows. Everyone claps. Then there is a long pause while everyone stands around wondering what to do next. Tania bows again, and everyone claps again. After a while, the curtain closes and everyone claps one more time.
After the party, I ask the organiser Philippe how he thought it all went.
"A resounding success," he replies. "Tania is now available in nine formats and 76 territories. She is the next Pamela Anderson, but even greater because she doesn't want to wear a bikini."
"Doesn't she?" I ask.
"Oh no," he replies, "Absolutely not! Never! Never a bikini!" And he laughs a hearty laugh, slaps me on the back, and is gone.
On our way out, we are each handed a brown paper doggy bag full of hard- core pornography.
"Marvellous," says Peter, the enthusiastic producer of Chloe - A Study in Good and Evil. "Look at this. How thoughtful of them. It really is kind. Wonderful."
The two of us head up the stairs and on to the Croisette, where a horde of sombre VIP French cineastes in bow-ties are heading towards the special 7.30pm screening of a Yugoslav film about the horrors of the Bosnian war. Suddenly, Peter's brown paper bag splits open, and a large pile of high- class, award-nominated hard-core filth spills out onto the pavement in front of them.
"Fuck," says Peter, hastily scrabbling them all up and hiding them under his shirt. "What a terrible thing. Damn. Bloody damn."
There is a scene in Blue Velvet in which a successful, well-balanced middle-aged man is happily tending his pristine garden, when suddenly he clutches his neck and falls to the floor in agony. The camera follows him down - below the lawn - and discovers a swarm of repulsive, unsightly creatures scurrying around in their disgusting manner. Well, an uncannily similar event occurs the next night at the Les Affinites Electives party, a new film by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani which I know nothing about because the last thing you want to do on a beautiful day in the South of France is go and see some movie called Les Affinites Electives.
It turns out to be a lavish occasion, though, a Burmese black-tie dinner - Isabelle Huppert, Jean-Hugues Anglade et al - eating regally, saying fabulous and scintillating things to each other in French, spilling nothing on their tuxedos. Outside, the photographers swarm - stampeding viciously towards Jennifer Jason Leigh, then abandoning her just as quickly when Robert Altman turns up. The soiree is faultless, aside from one, huge logistical blunder. To get to the toilets, we VIPs are compelled to walk through a tastefully curtained-off corridor that houses the World's Press, who have been fobbed off with a bunch of leftovers and told to help themselves.
It is a magnificent notion to curtain this corridor off so the attendant luminaries won't be obliged to sully their eyes by inadvertently gazing upon such a disgusting sight but the organisers have patently forgotten that VIPs sometimes need to use the toilet. Consequently, at 10pm, an extremely successful LA lawyer and I open the curtain and wander in.
"My God," mutters the executive.
The scene is horrible. Journalists and cameramen clutter the corridor like impoverished extras from the forthcoming Mother Teresa bio-pic. They all but bury their heads in the chicken curry and suck. Saliva flies across the room like an Indian Summer. I feel for the executive. I think, "How awful that you must witness such a depraved sight." And I feel for poor Isabelle Huppert, whom I am irrationally convinced gave me a little secret smile earlier over champagne.
"Please, God," I mutter, "let Isabelle not want to use the toilet. Let her not see such terrible things."
And then I spy Peter one more time, who's enthusiasm hasn't been dented by his ignominy on the Croisette the evening before.
"Look at this," he says. "The stars, the sea, the fireworks. It's all just wonderful. You ask me why I'm beavering away year after year, trying to get a movie off the ground. I know the odds are against me. I know that the chances are that I'll never make an impact. But it's all so wonderful. Just marvellous. What else could I do?" He pauses a little sadly for a moment, and then he corrects himself and says: "Lets go for a jog! Wonderful."