Altogether free of the allegorical antimatter of his last books (and more reminiscent of his dethroning of Miss America years ago), Final Cut's a hard look at the new Hollywood, not only the ""banal, plastic wasteland"" it always was, but infinitely more venal than vulgar in its decline. As seen through the eyes of Ezra Marks, ex-Kennedy man and New Frontiersman, summoned there as marketing v.p. by Kleinholz, still the ""King"" of King Studios even if they have only two properties about to be shown: a Woodstockaded counterworld film called Festival, and ""for class not clash,"" an art film, D.H. Lawrence-derived, directed by an Italian named Sordino. The latter will be premiered at Cannes -- just before a beautiful homosexual (Sordino's and others') is murdered. Although the title referral is to Festival -- will they delete its final clip with a rattlesnake in the mouth of its Indian headbanded ""momser"" or compromise (""You're not suggesting castration. . . . All you want is a circumcision"")? This is surely Daniel Stem's strongest book to date, full of cynically experienced shoptalk reducing cinema verite to other truths about a fallen away industry, as premeditated as it ever was and yet lacking the old validity of That's Entertainment. Like one of his characters, a quiet killer, Stern uses a knife without a show of blood. Perhaps there's none there.