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Two Weeks in the Midday Sun

A Cannes Notebook

With a New Foreword by Martin Scorsese and a New Postscript
A paragon of cinema criticism for decades, Roger Ebert—with his humor, sagacity, and no-nonsense thumb—achieved a renown unlikely ever to be equaled. His tireless commentary has been greatly missed since his death, but, thankfully, in addition to his mountains of daily reviews, Ebert also left behind a legacy of lyrical long-form writing. And with Two Weeks in the Midday Sun, we get a glimpse not only into Ebert the man, but also behind the scenes of one of the most glamorous and peculiar of cinematic rituals: the Cannes Film Festival.

More about people than movies, this book is an intimate, quirky, and witty account of the parade of personalities attending the 1987 festival—Ebert’s twelfth, and the fortieth anniversary of the event. A wonderful raconteur with an excellent sense of pacing, Ebert presents lighthearted ruminations on his daily routine and computer troubles alongside more serious reflection on directors such as Fellini and Coppola, screenwriters like Charles Bukowski, actors such as Isabella Rossellini and John Malkovich, the very American press agent and social maverick Billy “Silver Dollar” Baxter, and the stylishly plunging necklines of yore. He also comments on the trajectory of the festival itself and the “enormous happiness” of sitting, anonymous and quiet, in an ordinary French café. And, of course, he talks movies.

Illustrated with Ebert’s charming sketches of the festival and featuring both a new foreword by Martin Scorsese and a new postscript by Ebert about an eventful 1997 dinner with Scorsese at Cannes, Two Weeks in the Midday Sun is a small treasure, a window onto the mind of this connoisseur of criticism and satire, a man always so funny, so un-phony, so completely, unabashedly himself.

200 pages | 43 line drawings | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2016

Film Studies


“Sharp, wry, and—for this Cannes veteran—right on the mark.”

Diane Jacobs | New York Times

Two Weeks in the Midday Sun feels timeless. The names of the films and the people who made them are different, but aside from the vendors hawking cheap movies on videotape and Ebert’s difficulties getting his copy back to his editors in Chicago, it’s hard to imagine that the festival going on now is significantly different from the one Ebert saw. No one else will ever see it or write about it the way Ebert did, though. He’s been gone three years, but reading this makes me miss him all over again.”

Aimee Levitt | Chicago Reader

“A lighthearted trip through the 1987 festival, filled with celebrity interviews, casual encounters, and general commentary about the film and film-reviewing industry. The mood is lightened even further by his endearing quickie sketches of celebs and locals interspersed throughout the text. Ebert wasn’t much of a draftsman—Princess Diana never looked more boxy and tanklike than in Ebert’s hands. But he loved drawing, loved writing, and loved movies, and all of that is consistently, entertainingly present on the page. Here’s the thing, though: Tucked amid all that lighthearted traipsing through a French film festival is also a fairly serious and deliberate study of brows high, low, and middle—and Ebert’s appreciation of all three.”

Mark Athitakis | Belt Magazine

“I stumbled upon this gem a few weeks ago while scouring the web for unique, Chicago-centric Father’s Day gifts. The ‘notebook,’ which is a first-person account of Ebert’s experience at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival, has recently been reissued with a new foreword from Martin Scorsese, and a new postscript from Ebert himself, which, coincidentally or not, revolves around a particularly memorable dinner the critic shared with Marty. The book hits a few sweet spots for me: travel writing; film criticism; observing people from quaint French cafés . . . I’ve already downloaded it on my Kindle, but wisely opted to save it for a trip I’m taking to the South of France next month. And hey, maybe I’ll buy a hard copy for Dad, too. Unless he’s reading this. In which case, I’m, uh, totally just kidding.”

Sam Eichner | UrbanDaddy

“Witty and beautifully observed, embracing the absurdities of cinema’s most famous festival amidst the chaotic, sleep-deprived parties and screenings. Many of the movies covered have been forgotten, but Ebert’s journalistic joie de vivre transcends the topics discussed. If only we had more than two weeks to read about.”

American Microreviews & Interviews

“[A] delightful, dispatch-and-doodle notebook from Cannes ’87.”

A. A. Dowd | A. V. Club

“About as nourishing as a croissant, but like that airy pastry, it’s fun to devour.”

Library Journal

“A charming little book. . . . Frenzies and all, Ebert brings it seductively back.”

Charles Champlin | Los Angeles Times

“A lively blend of prose and pen-and-ink sketches. . . . With a sharper eye for gossip and more detours into philosophical speculation than his reviews and interviews tend to exhibit, the author talks to such stars as Barbara Hershey and John Malkovich, attends packed and frenzied premiers, and hangs out over espresso at sidewalk cafés watching the famous, the nearly famous, and the hangers-on stride gaudily past. . . . Ebert’s prose style is fresh, his observations both witty and sharp.”


“Perhaps the best book ever written about experiencing the Cannes Film Festival.”

Bright Lights Film Journal

“An affectionate portrait of the French film festival and the city that hosts it.”

Chicago Tribune

“Ebert’s pieces have the punch and precision of good short fiction.”

Denver Post

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