France--Coming up for air like an exhausted swimmer, the Cannes Film Festival produced two splendid films on Wednesday morning, after a week of the most dismal entries in memory. Denys Arcand's "The Barbarian Invasion," from Quebec, and Errol Morris' documentary "The Fog of War," about Robert McNamara, are in their different ways both masterpieces about old men who find a kind of wisdom. But that is not the headline. The news is that on Tuesday night, Cannes showed a film so shockingly bad that it created a scandal here on the Riviera not because of sex, violence or politics, but simply because of its awfulness. Those who saw Vincent Gallo's "The Brown Bunny" have been gathering ever since, with hushed voices and sad smiles, to discuss how wretched it was. Those who missed it hope to get tickets, for no other film has inspired such discussion. "The worst film in the history of the festival," I told a TV crew posted outside the theater. I have not seen every film in the history of the festival, yet I feel my judgment will stand. Imagine 90 tedious minutes of a man driving across America in a van. Imagine long shots through a windshield as it collects bug splats. Imagine not one but two scenes in which he stops for gas. Imagine a long shot on the Bonneville Salt Flats where he races his motorcycle until it disappears as a speck in the distance, followed by another shot in which a speck in the distance becomes his motorcycle. Imagine a film so unendurably boring that at one point, when he gets out of his van to change his shirt, there is applause. And then, after half the audience has walked out and those who remain stay because they will never again see a film so amateurish, narcissistic, self-indulgent and bloody-minded, imagine a scene where the hero's lost girl reappears, performs fellatio in a hard-core scene and then reveals the sad truth of their relationship. Of Vincent Gallo, the film's star, writer, producer, director, editor and only begetter, it can be said that this talented actor must have been out of his mind to (a) make this film and (b) allow it to be seen. Of Chloe Sevigny, who plays the girlfriend, Daisy, it must be said that she brings a truth and vulnerability to her scene that exists on a level far above the movie it is in. If Gallo had thrown away all of the rest of the movie and made the Sevigny scene into a short film, he would have had something. That this film was admitted into Cannes as an Official Selection is inexplicable. By no standard, through no lens, in any interpretation, does it qualify for Cannes. The quip is: This is the most anti-American film at Cannes, because it is so anti-American to show it as an example of American filmmaking. I did not link the whole article because it contained a typical Roger Ebert knuckleheaded political reference to which I will not spread further. Those who wish to seek it out know where to find it. This guy almost monthly has to bash the administration. Too bad, the fat bastard's a good critic.