Gaspar Noe. Louis C.K. For a certain type of Festivalgoer, this was a match made in effed-up heaven (and count your faithful correspondent squarely among this group). The “Pushing Boundaries” Cinema Café more than lived up to it’s seemingly limitless potential, offering big laughs, illuminating insights and more than a few gasps of shock.
The tone was set perfectly by moderator, cinephile, mustache legend and long-time Sundance Film Festival programmer Mike Plante, when he asked “What happened to you guys?”
I let everyone know that I have a blade and I love to fight. And the information got out.
Both men revealed that, to some extent, their define their success by the outrage they create. Gaspar (Enter the Void) happily copped to feeling ‘powerful’ when people walk out of his films and noted that he was actively ‘disappointed’ that none of his work has ever been banned. Louis (Hilarious) concurred, noting that he “loves it” when he can make an audience upset by offering a new take on controversial material, and then win them back. As he explained this belief further, “You want to talk about things you haven’t yet, or you won’t grow.”
This outrage manifests itself in different ways. C.K. talked about the hate mail he received after posting a short film that was critical of the Catholic Church online. Apparently it started with religious benedictions and ended with a tsunami of expletives that even as accomplished a vulgarian as Louis had to admire.
Noe related a more direct confrontation, revealing that after his last film, Irreversible, screened at Telluride, he learned of someone looking “to punch me in my face.” Noe reacted to this information thusly: “I let everyone know that I have a blade and I love to fight. And the information got out.” That he didn’t bring a knife to the mountains of Colorado is moot—clearly here is a man who knows how to create a visceral reaction. C.K. was impressed too.
C.K. went on to review his career in television by delineating—in hilarious detail—the words he couldn’t say and ideas he couldn’t discuss on each network that’s employed him. As they audience dissolved into laughter, Louis turned to the the vagaries of FX, the home of his new show, noting that he can say “cock” but is unable to say “cocksucker.” This information thrilled him to no end.
Meanwhile, Noe summed up his place in cinema with a gleeful smirk: “Every film festival needs a French pervert in the room. And I’ll play that game.” Then he turned to C.K. “They always call me ‘provocateur.’ Why do you use the French? What’s the English word for ‘provocateur?'”
C.K. shrugged and responded, “There isn’t one. It’s like ‘cul-de-sac.'”