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10 Movies Booed At Cannes

Features
by Drew Taylor
May 15, 2013 2:35 PM
37 Comments
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If the Cannes Film Festival, which gets underway tonight, is known for one thing, it's the festival's close proximity to topless beaches. But if it's known for two things, it's the emotional, emphatic responses that usually greet the films. These reactions come from audiences that are unafraid to tell the film (and the filmmakers, who are often sitting in the theater, squirming inside their rented tuxedoes and sequined ball gowns) how much they love or (just as often) hate, these movies. 

Not that these audiences are always right – far from it. Some of the movies that have been audibly shouted down are the ones (in the same festival) that take home the top prizes or garner widespread critical and commercial approval outside of Cannes. The Brooklyn Academy of Music is currently having a Booed at Cannes mini-festival, celebrating some of the best movies with the worst reputations. We wanted to also look at ten movies that got hissed at in Cannes and what happened afterwards. 

"Antichrist" (Lars von Trier)
The movie
: In von Trier's "difficult" psychological horror movie, a married couple (fearlessly portrayed by Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) unravels psychologically following the death of their infant son.
The reaction
: It sounded sort of like bedlam, which isn't all that shocking considering "Antichrist," with its graphic scenes of sex and violence, is more grindhouse than arthouse (keep in mind the movie was in competition, too). According to a Reuters report from the time, "jeers and laughter broke out during scenes ranging from a talking fox to graphically-portrayed gender mutilation." Also: "Applause from a handful of viewers was drowned out by booing at the end." (A few months later at a press screening during the New York Film Festival, someone fainted and had to be carried out of the theater. We were there.) It's sort of amazing that von Trier would wait until his comparatively bucolic "Melancholia" to make outrageous comments about Nazis (getting him temporarily banned from the festival). Later in the festival, von Trier cheekily called himself "the best director in the world." Gainsbourg ultimately won the festival's award for Best Actress, with the Ecumenical Jury awarding the film a special "anti-award" for what they perceived to be "the most misogynist movie from the self-proclaimed biggest director in the world."
Life After Cannes
: "Antichrist," released that fall by IFC Films on multiple platforms, became a "you've-got-to-see-this" cult sensation, with lines always winding down the block at downtown New York's IFC Center and T-shirts and memes (mostly centered the movie's bizarre talking fox) springing up instantly. It earned no major awards or accolades that season, but was later released as a deluxe DVD by the prestigious Criterion Collection. Chaos continues to reign.

"Marie Antoinette" (Sofia Coppola)
The movie
: A hyper-stylized look at the life of the Queen consort (played by Kirsten Dunst) in the tempestuous years leading up to the French Revolution.
The reaction
: In a New York Times piece called "The Best Or Worst Of Times?," it was reported that the theater was "filled with lusty boos and a smattering of applause." Roger Ebert claimed that, "not more than five people, maybe 10, booed." (He would later defend the movie and award it four stars, noting that it was Coppola's "third film entering on the loneliness of being female and surrounded by a world that knows how to use you but not how to value and understand you." USA Today asked the filmmaker about the response. "I didn't know about the boos," Coppola said. "But it's better than a mediocre response." Still, the movie instantly gained a crop of strong defenders (Ebert being one of them) and while those initial boos painted a portrait of a film in deep trouble, it never really materialized as such.
Life After Cannes
: The film, with its anachronistic soundtrack and pop sensibilities, proved just as divisive upon release, with most at least lauding Coppola's gutsiness, if not her artistic follow-through (it got a greater critical response in France, the site of those initial boos, oddly enough). While an under-performer at the box office, it did win the Best Costume Design Oscar and remains something of a cult favorite (it cries out for a sorely needed Blu-ray release).

"The Brown Bunny" (Vincent Gallo)
The movie
: A wayward motorcycle racer (writer/director/producer/editor Vincent Gallo) slowly makes his way across the country in this arty road movie.
The reaction
: Famously, the movie came under fire from Roger Ebert, who apparently was so bored during his screening of the movie that he sang "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" aloud. He later called it the worst film in the history of the Cannes Film Festival (no small feat) and surmised that the film received its boos not because of the content of the film (which includes an explicit blowjob performed by actress Chloe Sevigny) but "simply because of its awfulness." This touched off a war of words between the director and critic. As Ebert wrote dryly on his blog: "Vincent Gallo has put a curse on my colon and a hex on my prostate." What makes this whole situation stranger is that, at the time, Gallo was so hurt by the boos at Cannes that he vowed (while still at the festival) to never make another movie again. "I'll never make another movie again. I mean it," Gallo vowed to Reuters. He then added: "It is a disaster of a film and it was a waste of time. I apologize to the financiers, but it was never my intention to make a pretentious film, a self-indulgent film, a useless film, an unengaging film." At a party he was quoted as saying, "Being booed at was not much fun."
Life After Cannes
: Perhaps most fascinatingly, the dialogue between Ebert and Gallo continued. Gallo tightened the movie by almost a half hour (but still left in things like him washing his car in what feels like real time) and Ebert re-watched the movie and ultimately gave it his approval. Ebert wrote, "… he transformed the film's form and purpose now emerge from the miasma of the original cut, and are quietly, sadly, effective. It is said that editing is the soul of the cinema; in the case of 'The Brown Bunny,' it is its salvation." Who says film critics can't change their minds? Gallo certainly did: he directed a 2010 black-and-white drama called "Promises Written on Water" that screened at the Venice Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival, but didn't make much of a dent elsewhere (it has yet to be commercially released). Amongst those who defended the new cut of the film were Cahiers du Cinema, which named it one of the best films of 2004, and New York Times critic Manhola Dargis, who defended Sevigny's fearless performance. "Even in the age of girls gone wild it's genuinely startling to see a name actress throw caution and perhaps her career to the wind. But give the woman credit," Dargis wrote. "Actresses have been asked and even bullied into performing similar acts for filmmakers since the movies began, usually behind closed doors. Ms. Sevigny isn't hiding behind anyone's desk. She says her lines with feeling and puts her iconoclasm right out there where everyone can see it; she may be nuts, but she's also unforgettable."

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37 Comments

  • JeanieOwen15 | May 31, 2013 8:50 AMReply

    Good article. Sorry about the rip-offs.

  • WendyField30 | May 27, 2013 7:25 AMReply

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  • Carol | May 25, 2013 4:39 AMReply

    Not sure if you guys noticed, but Filmstage ripped this feature off lock, stock and barrel. Not the first time either...

  • Rosalie | May 19, 2013 4:40 AMReply

    Maurice Pialat, after receiving the Palme d'Or for "Under the Sun of Satan" and being booed by the audience : "If you don't like me, let me tell you that I don't like you either !"

  • Lou | May 20, 2013 11:10 AM

    Beautiful, beautiful film.

  • GERARD KENNELLY | May 18, 2013 10:56 PMReply

    http://www dot movie2k.to/Star-Trek-Into-Darkness-watch-movie-2966030.html

  • Kate Bradford | May 17, 2013 11:54 AMReply

    I couldn't make it through "The Tree of Life", so I'll definitely side with the haters on that one. I would have been the one cheering enthusiastically for "Inglorious Basterds", however. It's definitely one of Tarantino's best.

  • Samit | May 17, 2013 8:47 AMReply

    Great job done by them, really appreciable ...


    Aaron Emmett

  • Major Kalas | May 16, 2013 7:21 PMReply

    ...after reading the book I realized that Da Vinci Code and Angels And Demons are far better movies then they appear. No wonder DVC is on the list however...

  • Richard Rey | May 16, 2013 3:46 PMReply

    Nice work -- very creative feature.

  • Gatsby | May 16, 2013 7:19 AMReply

    Tennessee Williams was a judge. Wow!

  • oogle monster | May 15, 2013 9:23 PMReply

    "Who's booing now, bitches?" -> That was totally unexpected and hilarious- I actually laughed out loud.

  • Tobi | May 17, 2013 9:06 AM

    Same here, funny loose writing about Cannes of all things!

  • DG | May 15, 2013 5:33 PMReply

    Fuck, I can see booing when the credits roll but booing DURING the movie? Come on Cannes that's just rude. I'm really surprised Basterds was booed too, even a longer cut. It's Tarantinos best movie (IMO) and even if you didn't like some of his stylistic flourishings I don't see whats. It that boo-worthy.

  • pol | May 15, 2013 4:29 PMReply

    "Somewhat bafflingly, the film wasn't released to coincide with the fortieth anniversary of the Woodstock Festival (and the Summer of Love) ..."

    Um. Woodstock was '69. Summer of Love was '67.

    politicalfilm.wordpress.com

  • Boby | May 15, 2013 4:19 PMReply

    Where the hell is Gaspar Noé's Irréversible ? And Marco Ferreri's La Grande Bouffe ? I think they were far more "booed" than something like Taking Woodstock. But I guess they are not very famous movies and they are not made by wellknown directors.

  • andrew | May 15, 2013 3:54 PMReply

    Shame to hear that QT didn't care for Twin Peaks. It's one of my favorite Lynch flicks, but to each is own.

  • zatopek | May 15, 2013 4:21 PM

    I think I heard someone say after Django Unchained: "Tarantino has disappeared so far up his own ass that I have no desire to see another Tarantino movie until I hear something different. And you know, I loved him."

  • ben | May 15, 2013 3:39 PMReply

    "The Brown Bunny" is a piece of shit. It's not so much a movie as it's a 95 minute exercise in narcissism. The film world is so much better without this hack and all his nonsense.

  • Amanda | May 16, 2013 3:22 PM

    @zatopek, my sentiments, exactly.

  • zatopek | May 15, 2013 3:47 PM

    The Brown Bunny is great. So is Buffalo '66.

  • saim | May 15, 2013 3:03 PMReply

    Tree of Life deserved the booing, and it certainly didn't deserve the Palme D'or. It's almost just as ridiculous as giving it the screenplay award.

  • Lou | May 16, 2013 12:59 PM

    Ditto.

  • shark | May 15, 2013 8:36 PM

    At the very least, the reaction to the booing of Tree of Life was immature on the part of ToL's fans. Booing is a storied, legitimate Cannes tradition. Also, yes, totally, it didn't deserve the Palme. It's pretty but totally vacant.

  • bohmer | May 15, 2013 3:12 PM

    troll x 4

  • saim | May 15, 2013 3:02 PMReply

    Tree of Life deserved the booing, and it certainly didn't deserve the Palme D'or. It's almost just as ridiculous as giving it the screenplay award.

  • saim | May 15, 2013 3:02 PMReply

    Tree of Life deserved the booing, and it certainly didn't deserve the Palme D'or. It's almost just as ridiculous as giving it the screenplay award.

  • saim | May 15, 2013 3:02 PMReply

    Tree of Life deserved the booing, and it certainly didn't deserve the Palme D'or. It's almost just as ridiculous as giving it the screenplay award.

  • tristan eldritch | May 15, 2013 2:58 PMReply

    To me, The Da Vinci Code and MAYBE Southland Tales are the only of these movies that truly deserved booing. Olivier Assayas' brilliant Demonlover was also booed if memory serves, (or was it Boarding Gate?)

  • Lou | May 16, 2013 1:01 PM

    Da Vinci's Code: Awful movie.

  • Krista Now | May 15, 2013 3:08 PM

    (And Demonlover is also great in my opinion, one of my favorite of him with Irma Vep)

  • Krista Now | May 15, 2013 3:07 PM

    Southland Tales is fucking awesome. Richard Kelly's movies are totally fascinating and even if this one is far from being perfect, it's still amazing, with pure moments of genius.

  • yer | May 15, 2013 2:39 PMReply

    It's kind of misleading to have The Tree of Life on here as the rest of the films were actually widely booed by the entire crowd while TTOL had some small group of idiots deciding to be rowdy which were immediately drowned out by applause. Source: I was there. Basterds wasn't booed either. Rest of them are accurate.

  • balz | May 21, 2013 12:56 AM

    i was at one of the main inglorious basterds screenings in the palais and it got big applause/laughs throughout. it wasn't the premiere but people loved it, and the film was actually SHORTER by one scene. pretty much the same edit too. still a masterpiece and ridiculously hated on by hasty critics at cannes.

  • balz | May 21, 2013 12:56 AM

    i was at one of the main inglorious basterds screenings in the palais and it got big applause/laughs throughout. it wasn't the premiere but people loved it, and the film was actually SHORTER by one scene. pretty much the same edit too. still a masterpiece and ridiculously hated on by hasty critics at cannes.

  • balz | May 21, 2013 12:56 AM

    i was at one of the main inglorious basterds screenings in the palais and it got big applause/laughs throughout. it wasn't the premiere but people loved it, and the film was actually SHORTER by one scene. pretty much the same edit too. still a masterpiece and ridiculously hated on by hasty critics at cannes.

  • Jesu | May 15, 2013 3:30 PM

    I dunno, Basterds definitely had a tepid, "huh, that's it?" kinda response with scattered applause. American audiences definitely took to it better. Some people obvs didn't love TOL at first either and it's definitely grown in stature with multiple viewings. A lot of the early reviews were head scratchers.

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