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The Berlinale Blog: LaBeouf is not the same as von Trier or Cantona

Ben went to another soul-withering press conference today. This time he got to watch Shia LaBeouf be a total dick for no reason.

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The Berlinale is never as good as Cannes. It just isn’t. While the Cannes Lars von Trier press conference had Lars von Trier kicking up a massive fuss by allegedly expressing his admiration for Adolf Hitler, our Lars von Trier press conference had Shia LaBeouf kicking up a tiny fuss – a tiny dick dribble of translucent fluid, compared to Lars von Trier’s thick sperm-geyser of controversy – by paying homage to Eric Cantona. It’s just not the same. When he and Stacy Martin were asked whether the sex scenes in Nymphomaniac were awkward at all, the Michael Bay stalwart repeated King Eric’s “When seagulls follow the trawler…” quip and walked out, as if imitating a Frenchman was a good enough explanation for insulting everyone in the room.

The moment’s dramatic impact was lessened by three key factors: a) Cantona already did it, b) Cantona was a genius and the greatest footballer ever to play for Manchester United, while Shia LaBeouf is an actor from Transformers, and c) Cantona was the only one at his press conference, which was all about him, whereas LaBeouf was probably the least important of the five Nymphomaniac cast members who showed up – the others being Stacy Martin, who played the lead role, the unflappable Stellan Skarsgard, the charming Christian Slater, and the amazing Uma Thurman.

Seinfeld once did an awards speech explaining why actors shouldn’t get awards. “They haven’t got a thought in their stupid mini-brains. Roll the cameras, put on these clothes, stand there, ready? Say what we told you to say!” That’s a bit harsh. I used to have to watch actors work all day for my job, and it looked very stressful and difficult. That was no doubt the case on the set of Nymphomaniac too. Thurman, for instance, revealed that her hilarious scene in the movie involved a whole day of 25-minute takes, which sounds really exhausting. Acting is a punishing exercise, and the envy you might feel when you watch them get a million dollars for saying things like “get outta here she’s gonna blow” or “hm, what’s that on your face?” dissipates a little after you’ve watched them be pushed around for hours on end and get forced to do the same thing over and over again until they sodding well do it right.

But Shia Lebeouf decided that today was the day he would do his best to make it look like actors really are incapable of original thought, as Seinfeld conjectured. Now even I think it a little bit, and I know it’s not true. Damn you, you annoying wanker.