Los Angeles Times

Lars von Trier's 'The House That Jack Built' and Spike Lee's 'BlacKkKlansman' make for a night of provocation in Cannes

CANNES, France - They really will applaud anything you show at the Cannes Film Festival, so long as you put everyone in formal attire and roll out a red carpet beforehand.

I remember thinking this in 2009, at the black-tie gala premiere of Lars von Trier's "Antichrist," whose climactic burst of genital-shredding imagery sent horrified moviegoers lunging for the exits. Nonetheless, when it was over, the movie drew a standing ovation and shouts of "Bravo!" among the many who chose to stay for the duration.

A similar mix of mid-screening walkouts and post-screening applause greeted von Trier's "The House That Jack Built," the hectoring, masturbatory slog of a serial-killer movie that had its out-of-competition premiere at Cannes late Monday night, marking this Danish director's long-awaited, long-dreaded return to a festival that seven years ago declared him "persona non grata."

Von Trier stood there quietly in the Grand Thetre Lumiere when it was over, smiling a thin, inscrutable little smile and basking in his moment of redemption, or perhaps savoring the irony that it had arrived with the least redemptive anti-entertainment of his career.

I'll come right to the point, something this endlessly self-amused, throat-clearing filmmaker could never be accused of doing: Lars von Trier is a stupid, arrogant troll and, when the mood strikes him,

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