Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Top 10 Movies Booed at Cannes

Earlier today, the Ryan Gosling-starring, Nicolas Winding Refn-directed Only God Forgives screened at the Cannes Film Festival and was swiftly met with critical revulsion. Immediate reports indicated that the film closed with many boos and cackles from those in attendance.

For me, this is as significant as it is insignificant. First, I’m excited about Only God Forgives. Its neon-noir trailer appears to be a worthy follow-up to Drive, Gosling and Refn’s last film together. So, while the Cannes boos give me trepidation, I know by now not to let them phase me too much. Don’t let boos and early criticism throw you off, the 10 flicks below braved the taunts and came out on top.

10. Pulp Fiction (1994)
The only reason I’m placing Pulp Fiction so low on this list is because it technically didn’t get booed after its screening, but rather, after it won the festival’s highest honor, the Palme d’Or. Apparently, people were pissed that Krzysztof Kieślowski’s final film, Red, didn’t nab the prize. Quentin Tarantino’s reaction is exactly what you’d expect from him.

9. The Voice of the Moon (1990)
I’m not the biggest fan of Federico Fellini’s final film, The Voice of the Moon, but whether or not you find the film boring (as a few booing audience members did at Cannes) you simply don’t boo Fellini.

8. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)
Usually Cannes attendees are polite enough to wait until a movie finishes before greeting it with boos. Fire Walk With Me was not so lucky. As reported at the time, David Lynch’s follow up film to his wildly popular television series was met with constant boos during the screening. Walkouts were common as well, perhaps most notably by Quentin Tarantino himself, who later said, “David Lynch has disappeared so far up his own ass that I have no desire to see another David Lynch movie until I hear something different.”

7. Antichrist (2009)
While I know many people don’t consider this movie great, I certainly do appreciate it. So believe me, I can see why this Lars von Trier-directed vision of hell was not well received upon initial viewing. But as it turns out, boos were the least of its problems at Cannes. A handful of people fainted at the premiere, and the film’s closing dedication to Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky actually drew laughs from the audience. Ouch.

6. Crash (1996)
Just to reiterate: I’m certainly not surprised that many of the films on this list were booed, I’m just drawing attention to the fact that they were booed. Case in point is David Cronenberg’s sex-and-car-crashes thriller, Crash. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Cronenberg himself sat in the back of the Cannes theater with a little smirk on his face, silently musing, “Well, my work here is done.”

5. Gertrud (1964)
Much like The Voice of the Moon, after Carl Theodor Dreyer’s final film, Gertrud, screened at the festival, it was met with an immediate negative vocal reaction. The difference between the two? Dreyer reportedly had the stones to flip the audience off as they were booing. Might as well go down swinging.

4. L’Argent (1983)
Maybe it’s because he was already 82-years-old, maybe it’s because he had run out of creative steam, or maybe it’s because his remarkable L’Argent was booed at Cannes, but for whatever reason, L’Argent proved to be Robert Bresson’s final film. Damn shame.

3. The Tree of Life (2011)
After news broke that Terrence Malick’s visual poem The Tree of Life was booed at Cannes, I became nervous about he film. Then it won the Palme d’Or. Then I saw it. Then I loved it.

2. L’Avventura (1960)
One of the themes of this list is calling out the naysayers who got it wrong. According to legend, after Michelangelo Antonioini’s landmark picture screened at Cannes, the director and his star had to rush out of the theater due to the crowd’s divisive reaction. Today, L’Avventura is considered one of the finest films ever made, so, you know, fair trade.

1. Taxi Driver (1976)
Yep, my favorite film of all time was booed at the Cannes Film Festival. But considering an actual bomb went off in the festival’s main theater the year before, I suppose it’s understandable that audiences didn’t want to see a PTSD-stricken badass take matters into his own hands for no apparent reason. Either way, Taxi Driver won the Palme d’Or and will spend a lifetime living at the center of my movie-freaked world.

Ten more notable films booed at Cannes
Eclipse by Michelangelo Antonioini (1962)
Mademoiselle by Tony Richardson (1966)
Seconds by John Frankenheimer (1966)
The Mother and the Whore by Jean Eustache (1973)
Under the Sun of Satan by Maurice Pialat (1987)
Wild at Heart by David Lynch (1990)
The Idiots by Lars von Trier (1998)
The Brown Bunny by Vincent Gallo (2003)
Marie Antoinette by Sofia Coppola (2006)
We Own the Night by James Gray (2007)

Click here for more lists from And So it Begins...

40 comments:

  1. Solid list. I have to be honest and say that I've never paid much attention to critics views on films and really only use them to find out about more obscure and foreign pieces of cinema so I don't put much stock on films that were booed or not. Frankly, I'm in the same boat as you when it comes to Only God Forgives (the trailer has me really pumped). From the few films on this list that I have seen I can certainly agree with why they were booed though. Films like Antichrist (probably my favorite Von Trier film) and Crash, Twin Peaks, even Taxi Driver, to an extent, I can understand why they received such hostile reactions.
    Just as a side note, while I certainly think Pulp Fiction deserved the award, I am a much bigger fan of Kieślowski’s body of work than Quentin Tarantinos.

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    1. Thanks man. Oh, for the record, I don't care about critics' opinions on films. Especially before I've seen the film. I'm much more interested in what bloggers have to say than mainstream critics. But still, I definitely don't let any opinion influence my thinking before seeing a flick.

      I LOVE Kieślowski’s work as well. But Pulp, man... that's one of my all time faves.

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    2. I apologize if I gave the impression that I thought you took something from the opinion of critics, that wasn't my intention at all. I also didn't mean for my love of Kieślowski to mean I don't like Tarantino, because I think the majority of his films (don't dig Deathproof and I need to give Jackie Brown another watch cause I'm still a little iffy about it) are really, REALLY good, I just get more of a connection from Kieślowski.

      So, sorry for the critic comment and Tarantino is still a beast of a filmmaker for sure!

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    3. Oh nah man, it's all good! I just realized I should've clarified that more in my intro.

      All good stuff, my friend!

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  2. I'm still going to see Only God Forgives. I don't care what the critics say. NWR gets more pie from his wife in one night than those cum-dumpers will get a lifetime. (I can't believe he created that word for Kristin Scott Thomas to say).

    To me, a boo at Cannes is essentially a badge of honor. Though I want my money back for The Brown Bunny after learning that Vincent Gallo's cock was a fake.

    At least those films endured unlike another notorious film that got booed at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival in... Southland Tales. What an awful film.

    Oh, I should note that The Fountain premiered at the 2006 Venice Film Festival, not Cannes.

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    1. Christ man, I just live for your comments. They make me laugh so damn hard. You should really be writing comedy.

      Okay wait, Gallo's junk was fake in The Brown Bunny? I've always heard rumors, but I can't believe that's true.

      I have no earthly interest in seeing Southland Tales. Never have.

      Good call on The Fountain. Funny how many reports have that flat out wrong. Have adjusted the post accordingly!

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    2. I feel like I'm butting in on this comment, but I'm pretty disappointed if Gallo's junk was fake. I always heard it was real.

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    3. Oddly disappointing, isn't it?

      Oh, and feel free to butt in on any comment on this blog, anytime :)

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    4. My Brown Bunny story:

      A friend of mine (actual professional film critic) had got a Japanese pirate DVD of the film (this was before it was, so me and some other folks (including one of said other folk's pet puppy) gathered at their place one night with, well, quantities of alcohol (maybe some other substances as well, I don't know). And once we'd watched some other stuff as a warm-up, and the relaxing ales were flowing, we watched The Brown Bunny.

      Now, by this time we were all well aware of its reputation, and, well, none of us were disappointed in that respect; it was as godawful as we'd expected it to be. So the film goes on, the crowd is getting drunker, the dog keeps bringing the toilet roll and other things through from the bathroom, and we finally get to the bit we'd all been waiting for, i.e. the blowjob at the end. The anticipation was almost too great to bear as the scene rolled around...

      ...and it was pixelated.

      None of us had stopped to think that a Japanese DVD would, you know, censor certain bits.

      It was a weirdly brilliant climax, if you'll pardon the expression, to that particular evening; one of the worst films I've ever seen, but possibly the best screening of any film I've ever attended.

      First I've ever heard of uncle Vincent using a stunt penis, though.

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    5. Wow, damn, whatta story. And man, what a supreme bummer for that scene to be pixelated. After all that build up...

      I've done some research as to the legitimacy of Gallo's member. Seems to be real. But hell, who knows.

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    6. Man, I would literally pay you to change the name of this blog to "Researching The Legitimacy of Gallo's Member", best laugh I've had in awhile...

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  3. Ha, I didn't know it got booed! Peter Bradshaw gave it 5 stars in The Guardian. I'm still excited. Regardless of whether or not you enjoy a film, I think the whole booing thing is a bit fucking rude, y'know? That said, I was openly laughing in a derisive manner throughout the new Star Trek movie. (I posted a review on letterboxd consisting mostly of attempts to replicate explosion sound effects. Not really my kind of thing, to be fair.)

    What's your take on Fire Walk With Me? I still need to watch the series, but the film seems to have provoked quite a derisive response. Mark Kermode loves it, though.

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    1. I completely agree with you, booing period is just flat out rude. But I guess it's kind of expected at Cannes, which is such an odd tradition.

      No interest in the new Star Trek movie. I saw the last one and hadn't a clue what the hell was going on the entire time. They talk in words I don't understand.

      I dig Fire Walk With Me, but only in the context that it is a David Lynch film. If I wasn't a fan of his films (and the original series) then I would hate the movie. But it fits well within his body of work. I think I gave it a B- in my David Lynch profile.

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  4. The moment I read that Only God Forgives is being received well at Cannes, all I could think of was Tree of Life, Taxi Driver and Marie Antoinette, all of which are in my top 100. Therefore, I am still very hopeful.

    I've never booed a film. Even if I hate a film, I think I internalise the pain and sort of writhe in my seat and then have an outburst later. Having said that, I might have joined in the booing if I was present when Antichrist was shown. That film freaked me out like no other.

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    1. *not being well received

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    2. I'm still very hopeful as well. That Cannes crowd can be damn tough.

      I've never booed a film either, but it would be tempting to join in on the boos at a movie you detest. The other boos might help you work up the courage. Still the thought of you booing Antichrist at Cannes is just hilarious.

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  5. This is very insightful, thanks for sharing! I didn't know that Tree of Life and Marie Antoinette were booed, that's just stupid... I never boo in cinema... or at anyone. It's just impolite. I mean you can smile, you can maybe laugh a little, but boo, no. Frenchmen... *shakingmyhead*
    Also, I still want to see Only God Forgives.

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    1. Thank YOU for reading! I would never boo either. I'd rather sit back and marvel at the massive disrespect of others. Just watching human nature can be fascinating.

      I'm still pumped for the movie as well.

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  6. Fun list, Alex! I was trying to remember if Do the Right Thing was booed at Cannes. I know that Lee took a lot of criticism at the press conference; those questions are included on the Criterion DVD and still remarkable to see. A lot of these aren't surprising, even the ones that are good movies. It still amazes me that Fire Walk With Me was funded by a studio. It has brilliant moments but is also frustrating, though my opinion has risen a lot in recent years.

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    1. Thanks Dan! I definitely tried to find out if Do the Right Thing was booed, but I couldn't find anything. Still, you're right, that press conference speaks for itself.

      I'm amazed Lynch got Fire Walk With Me made as well. What a warped little movie.

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  7. Lol Cannes reactions always go overboard. Fuck yeah @ Tarantino flipping off the hater. He don't take no shit.
    Three of these movies are some of my favorites. And with how often I've seen a few of the others receive acclaim, it just goes to show the impact that time can have on a film's reception.
    Sad that Fellini went out like that. Also his only film not to have a North American distributor. It's just not a fitting end for such a maestro.
    And we can expect one more for von Trier when his next film comes out. Lawd.

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    1. They really are overboard, aren't they? QT is the man. I love how he handled that shit. I think von Trier is setting himself up for a perfectly... von Trierian reaction when Nymphomaniac hits Cannes. I can't wait to see that damn movie. It's gonna be insane.

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  8. I forgot about The Tree of Life getting booed. And Taxi Driver and L'Avventura? I just don't understand it. Oh well. Time has been kind to them, like you said.

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    1. And I guess that's all that matters, right? Still, the fact that they were booed is just nuts.

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  9. Short has become a right-of-passage for any filmmaker who is trying to accomplish something different or new with the medium. Where as safe, old fashion yarns are given standing-ovations, like 'The Artist'... which I like fine enough, but it's no 'Tree of Life.' Don't know about Cannes but Kubrik had several notable film opening disasters, most of the star-studded premiere of 2001 walked out, Rock Hudson famously asking around "What the hell did I just see?." He himself fell into a depression afterwards thinking that he had indeed failed in his masterpiece. Of course, 'A Clockwork Orange' was banned in his adoptive home of Britain for all his life, because he asked studio to remove it. Due in part to the copy cat delinquents, and the death threats he and his family received... so yeah new and inventive is hardly ever universally praised and recognized.

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    1. Sure enough, and that is a damn shame. I mean... imagine if Kubrick let the detractors get the better of him. Imagine the glorious movies we all would've missed. You definitely have to be able to put up with a lot of shit if you're going to create something new. Balls... it's all about balls.

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  10. "Taxi Driver" is my favorite as well, I'd never heard that it got booed at Cannes. Craziness. If I put any stock in Cannes booing something before, it's completely gone now. Still excited to see "Only God Forgives."

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    1. Nice! Love finding other Taxi Driver fans. Crazy that it was booed, but yeah, I'm still pumped for anything a Cannes crowds boos.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

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  11. Wasn't Irreversible booed as well? I'm still pumped for Only God Forgives. Indiewire said it's like watching an illustration for Cliff Martinez's score. For me it's perfect.

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    1. Oh, the reaction towards Irreversible at Cannes was notorious. It wasn't just boos but a lot of dramatic reactions. I heard there were walkouts. There were some people fainting. There were some screaming. There was a whole lot of shit that happened at that screening. That's fucking awesome.

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    2. Yeah, I couldn't find if the movie was booed or not, but I knew most of the crowd walked out. Maybe people were too mortified to boo by the time it was finished.

      I did hear that during the rape scene, Vincent Cassel started breaking down and crying and his wife, Monica Bellucci, said, "Honey, it's only a movie."

      That's a strong woman.

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    3. Ah, Vincent Cassel is one lucky dude. Not because he's married to one gorgeous woman but the fact that she can comfort him with something funny.

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  12. Quite an impressive collection of films. This proves that getting a few boos at Cannes does not keep you from winning the Palme d'Or, and it certainly does not keep you from gathering the kind of critical and mass recognition that eventually makes a film into a classic.
    I'm surprised about some of the negative reactions though. I mean, how on Earth can you boo Taxi Driver? (it's my favorite Scorcesse film by the way).

    I'm also looking forward to the next Ryan Goslin feature Only God Forgives and the negative reaction at Cannes doesn't face me. I think history has proven those french audiences wrong.

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    1. I honestly have no idea how Taxi Driver got booed either. Really bizarre. At this point, it almost feels like movies get booed, just so that people can say a movie at Cannes got booed, you know?

      Silly.

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  13. Interestingly, I love all the films you've listed that I've seen, and was unaware many of them were booed. It's sad that Fellini, Dreyer and Bresson's final films garnered such a reaction, though I had no idea Dreyer flipped the audience off as a result. He does not strike me as the kind of man to do that, I love it. Also, as they're two films I love, I would've killed to be at the screenings for The Idiots and The Brown Bunny, if only to hear Mark Kermode call the former "shit!" and Roger Ebert storm out of the latter. I love those guys and those films, but that would've been hilarious to see.

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    1. I learned so much from writing this post, including Dreyer's flip-off. It does seem out of character for him, but man, what a great send-off. Fuck the haters.

      I cannot imagine the frenzy of the screenings you mentioned. I would've loved to have seen those as well.

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