Persona non whateva

Posted by · 9:32 am · May 19th, 2011

Guy is on his way to a screening of Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive” at Cannes right now, but he will eventually get around to addressing Lars Von Trier’s spanking by the festival, which now considers him persona non grata.

In the meantime, however, I’ll align myself with this statement from David Poland’s assessment:

Is von Trier an ass at times? Absolutely. Aggressive provocateur? Absolutely.

But he is one of the few high profile filmmakers who pushes audiences to Think. You can hate what he makes, but you can’t deny that he is skilled and alive with ideas. Who will stand for this in a homogenized, instant-news-cycle culture if Film Critics and Festivals will not?

I just wrapped up a podcast with Guy and Anne that will run tomorrow morning, but in it, Anne made the interesting point that Cannes is still very much a fan of Mel Gibson, a guy who has made inflammatory, heartfelt statements in the same wheelhouse as Von Trier’s half-joking, half-analytical provocation.

Personally, I consider the whole situation shameful on the festival’s part, not on Von Trier’s.

If you haven’t read Guy’s review of Von Trier’s latest, “Melancholia,” you can check that out here.

[Photo: Associated Press]

→ 44 Comments Tags: , , , | Filed in: Daily

44 responses so far

  • 1 5-19-2011 at 10:10 am

    Andrej said...

    I can’t blame the Festival, really. Lars should have known better, as in France they have strict laws against making public remarks of nazi affiliation. Having him around would only negatively impact the Festival if they sheltered and awarded him at a fancy gala.

    And still… the guy might be very talented and creative, but you need to have a grasp of context when you’re saying such things, even if you’re aiming for controversy. Bummer on Melancholia’s chances, but I’m still eager to check it out.

  • 2 5-19-2011 at 10:43 am

    Beau said...

    I agree 100% Kris.

  • 3 5-19-2011 at 10:43 am

    Speaking English said...

    He should have known better.

    Oh, wait. We’re talking about Lars von Trier here. Narcissistic, pompous jack off with a capital “A” Attention-seeking disorder (and now a Nazi sympathizer too! He just keeps winning, doesn’t he). Nah… ban his ass. You don’t give the petulant, tantrum-throwing child attention.

  • 4 5-19-2011 at 10:45 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    That’s an incredibly narrow reading of things, English.

    Andrej, thanks for your more reasoned perspective.

  • 5 5-19-2011 at 10:45 am

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Bonehead move by Cannes.

  • 6 5-19-2011 at 10:48 am

    Speaking English said...

    There’s a line. He crossed it. The festival has done the right thing, as what came out of his mouth yesterday was obviously the last straw.

  • 7 5-19-2011 at 10:57 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    And how do you feel about the festival continuing its star-fucking policy as usual, vis a vis Mel Gibson, English?

  • 8 5-19-2011 at 11:13 am

    Kokolo said...

    This whole situation is ridiculous.
    I wonder if he will keep sending his moves to Cannes?

  • 9 5-19-2011 at 11:14 am

    DylanS said...

    That’s a very good point Kris, as I’m sure things would be very different if those words had come out of the mouth of his star Kirsten Dunst. It’s a ridiculous double-standard, but as an isolated incident, I think the festival has made the right move here, and I could only hope they hold hollywood types to the same standard in the future.

  • 10 5-19-2011 at 11:27 am

    Speaking English said...

    Not a fan of Gibson either. I’d certainly treat him the same way as von Trier.

  • 11 5-19-2011 at 11:41 am

    Al said...

    Von Trier was sober. Gibson was not. Plenty of people from different background have spoken on behalf of Gibson’s character. No one, that I know of, has done that for Von Trier.

    Further more its a paradox. If V.T. is really saying it from the heart, well, its just malicious. If he is doing it to stir up controversy, I think thats more or less worse. He’s saying something extremely inflammatory to strike up interest in his work? Thats just horrible.

    I am not sorry to see him go.

  • 12 5-19-2011 at 11:47 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    “Gibson was not.”

    Meaning he was probably more truthful.

    Not that that matters, and not that we haven’t heard worse from him on the phone with his wife.

    I think Poland’s piece is the most well-reasoned take on the whole spectacle, which is being muddied mostly by passion at the moment.

  • 13 5-19-2011 at 11:51 am

    Jesse Crall said...

    An important distinction between Lars and Gibson comes from the fact that V.T. made his remarks AT Cannes, wheras Gibson’s were thousand of miles away a a few years ago. Does that make Gibson a better person? Of course not, but he wasn’t a representative of the festival during his rant. V.T. was and he should pay the price for the duration.

    Put it this way: I’m a college student. If I cheat on my taxes, I may get into trouble with the law but my school probably won’t care. But if I cheat on a test, I’ll be expelled/suspended. One isn’t better or worse than the other, but the penalties will naturally be different depending on the circumstances.

  • 14 5-19-2011 at 11:55 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    “An important distinction between Lars and Gibson comes from the fact that V.T. made his remarks AT Cannes, wheras Gibson’s were thousand of miles away a a few years ago.”

    Indeed, doing it there with the spotlight on the fest and him was certainly a major part of the decision, no doubt about it.

    However, I wouldn’t call Von Trier “a representative of the festival.” He’s a representative of nothing more than his film.

    I think you got away from yourself with the analogy, though.

  • 15 5-19-2011 at 12:07 pm

    The Dude said...

    I finally got around to seeing the video of the Q&A session where all this transpired…

    …um, seriously? THIS is what gets you banned from Cannes!? Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems to me that LVT had trouble articulating the fact that he had a mild understanding of Jewish and German psyche, and because of this he sort of blurted out that he was a Nazi (which was a bit of a joke). And as he tried to climb out of the hole he dug for himself (with MORE jokes), he ended up digging himself deeper and deeper. He even said at one point, “How do I get out of this sentence?”

    The dude loves stirring up controversy, no doubt, and I don’t agree with all of his ideas. But to me this is just all blown WAAAAAY out of proportion. You could tell from the way he was talking that he wasn’t trying to be malicious or devious or evil or even a pot-stirrer…he knew that he f***ed up and didn’t know what to do. Again, I’m not saying I agree with him, but I think it’s a bit excessive to ban him from the ceremonies.

  • 16 5-19-2011 at 12:20 pm

    Ligaya said...

    Wow, that was David Poland’s placeholder? Can’t wait to read the longer version. Anyway, I 100% agree with you, David and Ryan Adams (there’s a video over there that clearly puts in context what von Trier’s ironic/provocative and English-as-a-second-language ‘meltdown’ was).

    Also, if Cannes can welcome Woody Allen who had an illicit affair with his daughter before marrying her (don’t give me arguments re biological vs. adoptive; nor personal vs. art, it’s still offensive to me),

    and if Cannes can roll out the red carpet for convicted pedophile felon Roman Polanski – notwithstanding the documentary (which was controversial itself) – as if he was royalty,

    Cannes has no business banning von Triers.

    Kris, David and Ryan have compelling arguments in defense of von Triers. Allen and Polanski are personal with me.

  • 17 5-19-2011 at 12:20 pm

    Chris G. said...

    As a dane, I am one to instantly tell that Lars is JOKING. That clip right there is classic danish humor. Sarcasm is woven into everything we say, and it can be really easy to misconstrue the meaning when speaking in a foreign language to foreign people. Kind of like sarcasm in written form.

    To me it’s a prolonged joke about his absolute contempt for Susanne Bier’s films, and I’m sad for him that he never got to finish the Hitler in the Bunker statement, as he I feel like that comparison would probably have underlined the joke.

    Besides, the whole thing is taken out of context. That press meeting was nothing BUT jokes. Everything he said was just for his own laughs. “Kirsten has convinced me to make my next feature a porn, 3-4 hours long”, “There’s a good chance that this movie isn’t worth watching”….

    Seriously, are people so forgetful that they can’t even remember back to when he arrived at the rep carpet to the Communist Theme with his fist pumped in the air like a true communist?

    It’s all part of the show that is Von Trier, which by the way, is a jewish name.

    I completely agree with Kris, that it’s more shameful for Cannes that they just take the misconstrued words from the press and act on that, instead of just looking up the press conference clips on the internet and tell “oh, he’s laughing, it’s obviously a joke”.

  • 18 5-19-2011 at 12:26 pm

    Chris G. said...

    Oh yeah, and Jesper Christensen (who plays the butler in Melancholia) remarked that Triers biggest regret is the fact that he’s probably ruined Kirsten’s formidable chance of winning best actress.

  • 19 5-19-2011 at 12:28 pm

    Ligaya said...

    Oops, my bad, that clip is here too.

  • 20 5-19-2011 at 12:42 pm

    Andrew M said...

    @Ligaya On the Woody Allen topic, which I know you don’t want to argue about, but I’m just stating the facts here: Previn is not Woody Allen’s daughter, adoptive or other wise. She is the adoptive daughter of Mia Farrow and Andrew Previn, who shortly after divorced, and Farrow started dating Allen. Yes, it is inappropriate, and offensive to a lot of people, to have an affair with your girlfriends adoptive daughter, but she was never Allen’s daughter.

  • 21 5-19-2011 at 12:44 pm

    TomasBuenosAires said...

    There are some things that are just not funny at all. If that´s danish sense of humor, then, thanksbutnothanks.
    There are some educated people that can tell the difference, I imagine most of us are in that group, but statements like the ones from Von Trier could really cause a lot of hurt and damage. They could spread a wrong idea and mislead weak minds.
    You can tell he realized he got into trouble but he kept joking about it instead of trying to clarify what he was trying to say. It embarrased me. I felt offended even though I am not a Jew.
    I have mixed feelings but I feel the Festival did the right thing, as much as I appreciate Von Trier as an artist and creative force in our Western culture.
    He should´ve known better. I know he can be smarter than that. Don´t know what happened, but I feel the Festival took a reasonable decision.
    I condemn his words and his idea of humour but at the same time I´m interested in his work as an artist and I´d love to watch his movie (which is not going to be released in my country, Argentina, according to a press release today).
    Shame on you, Lars. You´ve got your degree in stupidity today. Coming from you, a creative person, this is almost unforgivable.
    Hope time and your future work will make me feel less dissapointed.

  • 22 5-19-2011 at 12:58 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Chris: Indeed, there’s a great LA Times interview with him where he explains that it’s a very Danish sense of humor he’s layering on there.

    I just added the clip to give context, for anyone who hasn’t seen and would like to make up their own mind free from the media maelstrom this has become.

  • 23 5-19-2011 at 1:01 pm

    Ripley said...

    Lars is an ASS and the Festival acted responsibly. Just because you are a talented artist doesn’t give you the right to shat on millions with such words. We live in a world of Twitter and Youtube, ANY public comment is now worldwide. As a director, he should know better and if not, he doesn’t deserve to be given a dime or another award. Never cared for his films and certainly won’t be watching any more of them. I don’t know what is worse, him or the bloggers jumping to his defense. Makes me want to stop reading this and HE too.

  • 24 5-19-2011 at 1:02 pm

    Billyboy said...

    I bet many of the Von Trier haters haven’t even watched the complete 38 min press conference.

    As Chris G. said, the whole time Von Trier was in his usual jest-sardonic mode. He talked about the church in relation to his next porn film. He referenced Sutherland’s drinking problem. Joke after joke after joke and on the last minute he fell flat.

    Declaring him Persona non grata is really myopic and sad coming from a Festival that fancies itself as being open to artists.

    And Ligaya, you have no effing idea what you talking about re: Woody and Polanski. Take a hike. Or get your facts straight.

  • 25 5-19-2011 at 1:09 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Ripley: Jesus, with the hyperbole. Especially your “I don’t know what’s worse” jab. Makes me want you to want to stop reading “this.”

    “I bet many of the Von Trier haters haven’t even watched the complete 38 min press conference.”

    I have NO doubt.

  • 26 5-19-2011 at 1:14 pm

    Jeremy said...

    Von Trier is an asshole, but assholes still have the right to free speech. Admittedly, I’m unfamiliar with French law on hate speech, but it’s a stretch to label von Trier’s moronic comments as hate speech.

    Either way, he got what he wanted: attention.

  • 27 5-19-2011 at 1:37 pm

    /3rtfu11 said...

    Not a Lars fan but I will defend him here. He’s always said and done things to attract attention to himself, usually negative attention.

    Had an actor or some filmmaker not known for public outrageousness said these things then the kind of response von Trier received would be warranted.

  • 28 5-19-2011 at 2:02 pm

    Speaking English said...

    The fact that he IS known for these public shenanigans is even more reason for the reaction, I think. He likes to push buttons just for the sake of attention, and it’s pathetic. Time we stopped giving that childish behavior the light of day.

  • 29 5-19-2011 at 2:16 pm

    John G said...

    Look at how uncomfortable poor Kirsten Dunst is in this video! Von Trier really should have known better. And although these comments probably did have a sense of humor to them, it’s clear that he’s pretty serious about the Hitler “sympathy,” or he wouldn’t have tried qualifying his remarks with such apparent sincerity – if he was only aiming to provoke, why would he have attempted to wiggle out of the anti-semetic associations with Nazism? Would not a more outlandish approach better serve his customary provocative hyperbole?

    The French enjoy Mel Gibson as a sort of cultural curiosity; he gives them cause to laugh at Americans and his comments never hit too close to home. But in the middle of the globalized Cannes Festival, in the heart of anti-Nazi censured France…how else could Cannes respond to Von Trier’s comments? It’s difficult for Americans to appreciate how sensitive Europeans still are about this dark piece of their history, especially in France. And for better or for worse, Von Trier is considered a staple of France’s most notable cultural event. Unfortunate as it is that they had to take this measure, there’s no use in attacking Cannes administrators. Better to merely shrug your shoulders at Von Trier. He didn’t give them much choice and I’m sure he isn’t too hurt over this – it’s a feather in his cap towards establishing himself as film’s most provocative artist.

  • 30 5-19-2011 at 2:31 pm

    Drew Higgins said...

    There are really two different conversations going on here. Taking LVT’s comments with a grain of salt or not, it isn’t all too surprising that Cannes wants to disassociate from his particular brand of spectacle.

    I think there’s a direct correlation between how offended people will be and how funny the joke is. For better or worse, LVT’s brand of humor is lost on many. That said, did he really think Cannes would be the right forum to start slinging the edgy material?

    I know he was set up by the question. I just wish he’d have held his tongue so that Melancholia could have been the story, not LVT himself.

  • 31 5-19-2011 at 2:38 pm

    Plainview said...

    So, someone making a jokingly remark about being a Nazi is forbidden, and the guy can’t even get close to the entrance anymore, but…

    A convicted rapist of a 13 year old and fugitive of the law can be Jury President and get a standing ovation when winning the Golden Palm?

    So, the message is “You can rape my children, as long as you are not a Nazi?”

    This PC police is pathetic. If I were a jury member, I would vote on Von Trier for something only out of spite.

  • 32 5-19-2011 at 2:38 pm

    steve castagnoli said...

    Please spare us Chris! Irrespective of his abilities as a film maker, it’s just not funny or cool to be using one of the two worst mass-murderers in human history as part of ones attempt to shock/amuse the press or anyone else. The festival provides those participating a wonderful opportunity to have their work exposed to a huge audience. Instead of embracing this opportunity, this director instead decides to make a jackass of himself and embarrass those associated with the film by introducing a very sour note into what has been an exciting and productive festival. There is no way you can layout a convincing case in defense of this guy.

  • 33 5-19-2011 at 2:51 pm

    André said...

    the film has just been banned in Argentina, apparently.

    they said they won’t release the film there because of his comments.

    I honestly thought he was clearly joking. was it a horrible joke?? of course. but c’mon, anyone who has seen his films and expects the guy to have a normal sense of humor is out of their mind.

    I do, however, understand why people are offended (even if I’m not), even if I think people are grossly overreacting to this whole thing.

    also, the best thing about that video is watching Dunst’s (very beautiful) face.

  • 34 5-19-2011 at 3:06 pm

    Andrej said...

    Totally agree with Drew Higgins’s points. Don’t take his persona non grata too seriously anyways, what he did is an impasse, nothing else. The dude might have a backlog of such screw ups, but if he’s still around it’s for a reason.

    Just wait a few years and it’ll be as fondly remembered as Kanye’s “Imma let you finish” incident. Von Trier will return to the awards and festivals circuit eventually, hopefully a bit wiser than before.

    Besides, Melancholia is still in competition. Not that I would bet anything for it now, but who knows.

  • 35 5-19-2011 at 3:16 pm

    /3rtfu11 said...

    “I’m known for provocations, but I like provocations when they have a purpose. And this had no purpose whatsoever. Because I’m not Mel Gibson. I’m definitely not Mel Gibson.” — Lars von Trier

  • 36 5-19-2011 at 3:43 pm

    D said...

    Seems to be an extreme case of double standards at play here….

    Also, what does it say about me that I really couldn’t care less about this whole situation. Maybe I’ve just become desensitised to all kinds of controversial and provocative comments at this point.

  • 37 5-19-2011 at 3:43 pm

    qwiggles said...

    This whole thing is VERY frustrating.

    Lars ‘Torturer’ von faux aristocrat Trier is a tasteless blowhard, as we all know, and he’s successfully proven that rambling Nazi/Jew jokes aren’t funny, if anyone was actually wondering. Still, I find it curious that no one on the offensive seems to be bringing up why he mentioned Nazis in the first place: the question asked him to reconcile “your German roots, the Gothic aspects of this film, and the fact that you have mentioned in a Danish film magazine your interest in the Nazi aesthetic.” A little googling pulls up the interview in question, where he makes the case for the heavy-handed, maximalist kitsch of Nazi art, which — surprise, for anyone who’s seen Antichrist and heard lines like “There’s no such constellation!!!,” he enjoys. The question was thus both banal and leading: you clearly like Nazis, and you’re German, so tell us about your use of Wagner…Nazi. He responded by saying he thought he was Jewish but yes, it turned out his biological father did have “German roots,” which he equates glibly and whimsically with being “a Nazi.”

    This, of course, does not account for his snide remarks about Susanne Bier. But we already know he’s an asshole.

    I just find it really goofy that the festival would put on its severe face and act outraged by his outlandish comments as if they weren’t provoked by an outlandish question. They were. And what’s the point? There’s plenty to talk about with how amusing he clearly finds equating German ancestry with Nazism, for instance. And I’d also raise an eyebrow in the direction of the journalist who fed him that bait, which he was more than happy to bite. The suggestion seems to be that the gothic is inherently Nazi , especially in the hands of a director with a “German background” — not a charge something like Black Swan was faced with, and not a claim people who are seriously interested in the genre throw around lightly.

  • 38 5-19-2011 at 3:48 pm

    marco70go said...

    The more time is passing by, the more the decision to “ban” von Trier from the Festival seems to me simply wrong. Ok, he should have known better, but banning him is simply doing a disservice to a wonderful movie that doesn’t deserve to be associated with this unfortunate episode.

  • 39 5-19-2011 at 4:06 pm

    James D. said...

    How do people find the energy to care about the lives of directors, actors, and the like? Couldn’t that time be spent watching movies instead?

  • 40 5-19-2011 at 4:54 pm

    Pablo (Col) said...

    He just said what many think and say in other places. I understand why it causes controversy and the fact he is hated makes and even worst cause for him.

    Banning him is a bit sad but there is more than Cannes.

    I thought there was free speech in the world, no matter the stances.

  • 41 5-19-2011 at 5:28 pm

    Puchika said...

    @ 0:39–ayayayayay lol!

  • 42 5-19-2011 at 6:33 pm

    qwiggles said...

    39 — I watched 2 today, and wrote this comment, and did my laundry, among other things. So either I’m abnormally productive, or you can see movies and also care about what directors say.