View Full Version : the bunny controversy

08-09-2004, 10:21 PM
Vincent Gallo's The Brown Bunny, starring the man himself and Chloe Sevigny premiered at Cannes last year to scathing reviews, so much that while critics were busy denouncing this film they overlooked everything else that was there. Almost a year after it's premiere a U.S distributer (Wellspring) acquried it earlier this year. The film is scheduled to release in NY/LA on August 27th. Besides France, it has already opened in Austria, Japan, Portugal, Greece and Belgium not to mentioned at various film festivals around the world.

Decent start by Wellspring recently as they decided to put a billboard on LA's sunset strip showing the already infamous scene claiming that they weren't seeking controversy (yeah right!!) but in any case they were forced to take it down. Some aren't happy as apparently the street is already filled with compromising photos of models in fashion ads.


08-15-2004, 01:53 AM
As long as I'm posting links to Times' articles, here's one about the controversial bunny (and its creator). I'd be surprised if this film is released anywhere in the U.S. outside of New York and Los Angeles. I'm not holding my breath that it'll show here:

Vincent Gallo Dares You to See It (If You Can Find It)

08-15-2004, 04:13 PM
Well, i don't think this is a 'charity' release by Wellspring, they've put some money behind it. I hope it opens elsewhere as it's scheduled to . Here's the schedule so far.

August 27

Irvine, CA Regal-Edwards University 6

Los Angeles, CA Landmark Nuart Theatre

New York, NY Landmark Sunshine Cinema

September 3

Mountain View, CA Century Cinema

Berkeley, CA Landmark Act 1&2 Cinemas

Evanston, IL Century Cinearts

Chicago, IL Landmark Century Center Cinemas

Cambridge, MA Landmark Kendall Square

San Francisco, CA Landmark Lumiere

Pleasant Hill, CA Century Cine Arts

Mill Valley, CA Century Sequoia Twin

September 10

Louisville, KY Baxter Avenue Theater

Fort Lauderdale, FL Gateway Cinema

Seattle, WA Landmark Varsity Theater

Washington, DC Visions Cinema

Dallas, TX Landmark Magnolia Theatre

Buffalo, NY Amherst #3

Pittsburgh, PA Harris Theatre

San Diego, CA Landmark Ken Cinema

Pasadena, CA Laemmle Playhouse

Encino, CA Laemmle Town Center

Atlanta, GA Lefont Plaza

Monterey, CA Osio Cinema

Miami, FL Regal South Beach

Philadelphia, PA Roxy

September 17

New Orleans, LA Landmark Canal Place

Austin, TX Landmark Dobie Theater

Milwaukee, WI Landmark Oriental Theatre

Austin, TX Regal Arbor Cinema

Houston, TX Landmark River Oaks Theatre

Las Vegas, NV Century Suncoat

Hartford, CT Real Art Ways

Tucson, AZ The Loft Cinema

September 24

Santa Fe, NM The Screen

Providence, RI Cable Car Cinema

October 1

Tampa, FL Sunrise Cinemas @ Old Hyde Park

Minneapolis, MN Landmark Uptown

Nashville, TN Belcourt Theater

Portland, OR Cinema 21

October 2

Rochester, NY Dryden Theatre @Eastman House

October 8

Royal Oak, MI Landmark Main Art Theater

St. Louis, MO Landmark Tivoli Theater

November 19

Columbus, OH Wexner Center for the Arts

08-15-2004, 04:31 PM
Well I'll be damned. Thanks.

08-15-2004, 08:36 PM
Santa Fe?! Blargh! You know, Albuquerque used to be the filmtown of New Mexico.

I swear, things have been going downhill for us since our Madstone theater closed.

08-17-2004, 06:59 PM
The 2 film trailers are now live at the film's website.

trailer 1 is a teaser by Wellspring

trailer 2 is a much longer Japanese ad.


08-17-2004, 10:08 PM
Thanks for sharing that with us, Lisa.

Outstanding. Goddamn outstanding.

I just saw both trailers for this film and I am humbled at Gallo.

08-17-2004, 10:19 PM
Yeah, i remember reading Lisa's quote last year in EW, but i am surprised they decided to include it. I was expecting the Roger Ebert one "i'd rather see my colonoscopy than see this film again," brilliant!!

Also, "the most controversial american film ever made," i am not sure about that one.

08-24-2004, 06:27 PM
An interesting review to say the least,

"The Brown Bunny has a family resemblance to such quasi-real-time odysseys as Gus Van Sant's Gerry and Bruno Dumont's Twentynine Palms. Unlike those two wildly self-important stunts, however, Gallo's has a genuine pathology"........


Chris Knipp
08-25-2004, 02:45 AM
On the face of it this review by the often astute Hoberman is far from convincing. Need he praise Brown Bunny by trashing Gerry and 29 Palms? (I’m a fan of Gerry, and hopeful about Dumont's latest.) Was it necessary to tell us "In the context of the movie's ultimately poignant scenario, Daisy is Bud's delusional fantasy; in the context of the movie, however, Sevigny's performance is the tangible signifier of her director's real-life domination"? And is “a genuine pathology” something we’re looking for in a movie? Nonetheless I am as interested in seeing what’s behind the hype/controversy as anyone else, and since where I am in northern California is one of the places most richly supplied with Bunny viewing sites, I expect to see the movie some time this weekend.

08-25-2004, 05:37 PM
I think we should refrain from making any comments about the film or a certain review until we've seen the film for ourselves. I know that Mr. Hoberman isn't a big fan of both 'Gerry' and '29 Palms' and he is entitled to his opinion just like us. I am also very curious myself to see why was there such a negative response to this film at Cannes last year, but this one has 'cult classic' written all over it.

Chris Knipp
08-26-2004, 12:19 AM
Sorry. Mum's the word. I was jumping the gun about viewing it: it won't be here till next week.

08-27-2004, 12:09 AM
Vincent Gallo can do no wrong in my book- the dude's a beatnik.

I love artists, you know?

Gallo lives his life like a journalist, inhabiting the world in a way that makes him arrive everyday, in the moment, and enjoying the priviledge of seeing the fruition of that timeliness.

His audacity, his on-the-edginess, his bullet-cool, Gallo is the BOMB.

08-27-2004, 07:17 PM
You just might be right Johann, and as I expected the film has recieved some 'gentle' reviews from some of the major publications so far (EW, Variety, Village Voice) and now even in the NY Times by Ms. Dargis.


09-06-2004, 03:55 PM
I plan to see it this weekend and i'll post my thoughts then.

Chris Knipp
09-06-2004, 11:22 PM
I saw Brown Bunny last night, pondered it, and have posted a review of it on a separate thread.


09-07-2004, 12:33 AM
I don't think you needed to repost and link something which is part of the main thread, i'm sure people won't miss it.

Chris Knipp
09-07-2004, 08:36 AM
subscribing is only for individual threads, I thought. I miss things all the time.

09-10-2004, 12:57 AM
Chris Knipp mentions the Roger Ebert review in passing, but it is currently on his site and bears reading if only for the reasons that Ebert is able to compare the two versions and make sense out of both. I enjoyed Chris Knipp's reviews. His attention to detail and dedication to the material is meticulously shown. He is thorough in even giving us the audience reaction during the show he attended. For a complete understanding of The Brown Bunny, I suggest reading both Chris and Ebert.


Chris Knipp
09-15-2004, 07:50 AM
[Sent from Paris.]

I certainly can't compare the oriiginal Cannes version of Brown Bunny with the edited one shown currently in US theaters, as Ebert can. I suspect that his relatively kind review of the new one is due to embarrasment over his clash with Vincent Gallo. He went a bit overboard and said philistine things with nasty implications about avantgardiste cinema, which he sometimes in some forms champions. And while Ebert tends to be a bit too accepting of too many things, that is also one of his strengths, his openmindedness.

I'll paste in here some notes I emailed to Oscar just now:

I've seen the following new French films over the past few days in Paris theaters:

5 x 2 (Cinq fois deux) (Francois Ozon)
Mensonges et Traisons (Laurent Tirard)
Adieu (Arnaud de Pallieres)
Ils se marièrent et eurent beaucoup d'enfants (Yvan Attal)
La Femme de Gilles (Frederic Fonteyne)

I am making notes on them and will write them up when I get a chance. It's rather challenging to see French films without subtitles of course, since I miss a good 30% of the dialogue in many cases, but I get enough to tell if I like the film. I don't know if I ever saw the actor, Clovis Cornillac, who Le Monde today says "On ne cesse de trouver formidable de film en film" (one never ceases to find [him] formidable from film to film"). He is in both Mensonges et Traisons and La Femme de Gilles (he's Gilles) and he is incredibly powerful and talented, and his looks are interesting too, not conventionally a matinee idol, but not a plain John either. . . In Femmes de Gilles, he's a disturbed adulterous factory worker; in Mensonges, he's a spoiled football star in a comic role that he makes lively and droll. As Le Monde says, "and suppose they start to give him really big roles?" Another Gerard Depardieu? A powerhouse actor. Emmanuelle Devos gives a complex, self conscious and much praised performance in the film as Elisa, the wife.

Adieu is more avant-garde than the others, adventurous and challenging in its editing and use of sound, and I'd like to see it with subtitles to have some of the complex philosophical and religious discussions clarified for me, but I found it to be a powerful meditation on death, God, and the existence of evil in the world as well as the issue of an international "class system" of nations. Mensonges et Traisons has the very appealing Edouard Baer, and is likely to do quite well in the US, as will La Femme de Gilles, a disturbing and intense study of adultery in the northwest of France (I judge) during the 1930's. I didn't care for 5 x 2 at all, found it tedious and affected; but since Swimming Pool was so popular, and it opens with a brutal sex scene, it may get some successful play in the US too.

There are plenty of good new French films opening here this fall. Who knows when we'll get to see them stateside, though?

09-18-2004, 02:24 PM
One film you might wanna stay away from is Claude Lelouch's Les Parisiens. The criticial response has been so negative that it prompted the director to offer to host a special free screening in all 400 theatres for the public so they can judge it for themselves. French paper 'Le Monde' called it "indigestible," adding Lelouch was "a cineaste who had lived his hour of glory."

Chris Knipp
09-19-2004, 04:44 AM
Most of Lelouch's movies have been clinkers. His famous one, A Man and a Woman, was basically just a pretty piece of schlock. I have seen the preview for this new one. And you are right, the local press is warning people to avoid it like the plague. ONe wonders what "hours of glory" the writer is referring to. There are a lot of good new French films to see!

I have seen five more films in Paris, not all French this time:

Clean (Olivier Assayas)
Ken Park (Larry Clark)
Head On (Akin Fatih)
Un fils (Amal Badjaoui)
Le chiave di casa (Gianni Amelio)

Of course only two of these are French, Clean (partly in English, with a little in Chinese--Maggie Cheung is multilingual) and Un fils, about north Africans living in France.

I found all of these very interesting.

Clean works much better for me than did Demonlover. It has a similar multilingual globetrotting plot, but the situations and emotions are much more real and connected and yes, it's what the French call a "grand mélo," a tear-jerker, but the resolution is authentically touching.

I'd been wanting to see Ken Park (having been a Clark fan ever since his famous photo book Tulsa); as far as I know it hasn't been that much seen in the US? It's outrageous for its nastiness and meanness as well as its graphic onscreen sex next to which Brown Bunny is Mary Poppins, but I found it wasn't just a novelty and a scandal but one of Clark's best efforts, a film that works better artistically than Kids. It's tighter and it's dripping in irony in its bitter depiction of family breakdowns in the dead-end suburban world of Visalia, CA.

Head On is a powerful, lurid cross-cultural study that's quite involving and has its own distinctive look and feel. I question the easy assertion that it's a depiction of the situation of Turks in Germany. The situation it represents reads as fairly unique, though there is a brief look at the pressures of a traditional Moslem family on a young woman brought up in a contemporary European environment.

I found Un fils a bit thin, though some French writers admired its very lack of explanation of the pretty Arab boy's male prostitute life and his attempt at rapprochement with his father. It is understated; the question is whether there is a fully worked out background behind that, or if the director/writer simply couldn't work it all out.

I was rather bowled over by Gianni Amelio's Chiave di casa (Keys to the House), having never seen Amelio's other films. It's about a handicapped boy and his father's effort to come to terms with their relationship. The star is a real handicapped boy who is both mysterious and adorable and the whole production, including an important appearance by the always haunting Charlotte Rampling (who reveals here yet another talent, fluency in Italian), is both original and rooted in Italian cinematic traditions -- neorealist as well as post-neorealist Antonioni-esque ones. The film suffers a bit from the deterministic effect of its simple plot, which implies a false dichotomy between loving care and medical help for the handicapped. It's not an either/or, as the Rampling subplot shows. But the close look you get at the boy is unforgettable, as are his scenes with his father. As Alberto Crespi wrote in the Italian communist paper L"Unita'", "Le chiave di casa isn't a film: it's a life experience." Much debate, not detached from left/right political issues, of whether the film is simply manipulative, or valid artistically. I'd say it's another "grand mélo," but one too authentic in its roots -- and too well individualized --- to write off.

I still think about Adieu by Arnaud des Pallieres, which some think too attention-getting and off-putting, but I found too serious and involved in too many central issues to overlook.

09-19-2004, 10:59 AM
I'm also one of the few who have stuck up for Larry Clark on numerous occasions ('Another day in Paradise' remains my favorite from him) but Ken Park disappointed me. To me it seemed like he had thought of the numerous situations/acts depicted in that film for various projects then decided to include all of them in one and it was simply just too much. I do wish to see it again however as I didn't watch it the first time in the most ideal of situations. No U.S distributer yet.

I'm looking forward to Head-On as it's scheduled to release here early next year. It's the first German film to win the Golden Bear in nearly two decades and german critic Olaf Moller described it as 'an honest study of life in contemporary Germany and a rare film which feels and sounds like the country itself', and that's high praise coming from him.

Chris Knipp
09-19-2004, 11:52 AM
Don't agree, though I see h ow you could think that. It's a "ronde" of stories that are all related by place and mood. We can discuss this further but I'm a bit pressed for time right now as I'm out of time here, am going to Rome tomorrow, and am going to watch one more film, the HongKong "Infernal Affairs," tonight.

Anyway glad to hear you're a Larry Clark fan. He's good.

11-14-2004, 03:15 PM
This long-anticipated film is arriving in Vancouver this Friday @ the Pacific Cinematheque. Already got my ticket.
It's only got 6 screenings, but I ain't complainin'.

Chris Knipp
11-15-2004, 12:32 AM
Thanks for reminding me of Brown Bunny: it holds up in the memory as an original piece of work with an ending that does indeed make sense out of the whole long first part. Whether or not I put it in my American Ten Best List for 2004 depends on what comes bursting forth in the last weeks of the year. Sorry if I spoiled anybody's viewing pleasure by revealing the ending. As for Brown Bunny, I think one might agree with something a new contributor said on the Vera Drake thread: "Why some people may not like" [Vera Drake], "Like most art films, the pacing is not very fast." (Wow! I didn't know that! If that's true, I guess Gerry's the quintessential art film!) Despite a pre-Global Warming glacial pace, Gallo has an original voice. He will need champions like you, because he's even less mainstream and more of a one-man-show here than he was in Buffalo 66, I think. For all the publicity, there just aren't a lot of people who're going to see it. But they're going to miss something informative not just about Gallo, but about this country and road travel.

I'm still working on reviews of the movies mentioned above that I saw in Paris, one of which was Ken Park. I'll try to take into consideration arsaib4's comment on Ken Park in writing about it. I'm working on a review of Assayas' Clean now. I'll be coming to Ken Park and Head On next.