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15 Movies That Were Booed At The Cannes Film Festival

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While it seems rude to heckle or boo a movie at the local cineplex, it’s actually somewhat common at the Cannes Film Festival, which kicks off today. Hey, French moviegoers are pretty passionate about cinema—and they're not afraid to tell filmmakers how they really feel about their movies. Here are a few they've booed.

1. Pulp Fiction

While Quentin Tarantino’s sophomore effort Pulp Fiction didn’t get booed immediately after it premiered at the 47th Cannes Film Festival in 1994, it did receive a tidal wave of jeers when it received the festival’s highest prize, the Palme d’Or. Some audience members felt that Krzysztof Kieślowski’s final film Three Colors: Red should’ve won the prestigious award instead.

2. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

David Lynch’s follow-up to his wildly popular TV series was met with unrelenting boos at Cannes in 1992. There were reportedly plenty of walkouts and much vocal mocking during its premiere screening. 

3. The Tree of Life

While the reaction to Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life was mostly positive, there was a small—and vocal!—minority of dissenting opinions during the film’s screening at Cannes in 2011. A segment of the premiere audience booed the film, but many in attendance felt the negative reaction was merely “counter-applause” for the overwhelming positive response to Malick's meandering feature. The Tree of Life was awarded the Palme d’Or and later received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.

4. Antichrist

Chaos reigned when Lars von Trier’s Antichrist premiered at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. The film—about a couple who emotionally and psychologically break down after the death of their infant child—was met with laughter and jeers during its 108-minute running time. When the film ended, the audience’s boos were louder than positive applause. The festival’s Ecumenical Jury awarded Antichrist an “Anti-Award” for "the most misogynist movie from the self-proclaimed biggest director in the world.”

5. Crash (1996)

David Cronenberg’s Crash was met with jeers for its graphic sex and violence during the 49th Cannes Film Festival in 1996. Despite the negative reaction to the film, Crash received the festival’s Special Jury Prize.

6. Taxi Driver

Believe it or not, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver received a largely negative reaction when it premiered at Cannes in 1976; audiences didn't like the film’s violence, nihilistic point of view, and unsavory anti-hero. The film was booed when it was given the Palme d’Or, but Scorsese wasn't there to hear it: He was back in New York City with Taxi Driver's lead, Robert De Niro, working on the musical New York, New York.

Taxi Driver would later go on to receive four Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Robert De Niro. The film was also selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

7. L’Avventura

Michelangelo Antonioni’s L'Avventura (The Adventure) is now considered the Italian director’s masterpiece—but viewers at its initial screening during the 13th Cannes Film Festival in 1960 didn’t share that sentiment. L'Avventura received so much disdain from the festival audience that Antonioni and the film’s star Monica Vitti had to be rushed out of the theater in fear of the passionate reaction.

8. Marie Antoinette

In 2006, Sofia Coppola’s take on French history received an extremely negative reaction from Cannes audiences. The director was unaware of how audiences vocally react to movies in France. "I didn't know about the boos—it's news to me," she told USA Today. "But it's better than a mediocre response."

9. Southland Tales

Audiences reacted viciously to Richard Kelly’s follow-up to Donnie Darko when it premiered at Cannes in 2006. Many critics and festival attendees walked out or booed the convoluted film while it was screening. Southland Tales was unfinished at the time of its premiere, with a run time more than three hours; Kelly scrambled to cut the film down for its theatrical release in the States, where it flopped.

10. Only God Forgives

In 2013, Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn took his film Only God Forgives to the 66th Cannes Film Festival. Audiences and film critics weren’t so forgiving to Refn’s follow-up to his action drama Drive, and it was received with jeers for its non-narrative plot and unlikable characters.

11. Taking Woodstock

In 2009, Ang Lee released Taking Woodstock, a film that followed a family-run motel in the sleepy town of White Lake—which sits just outside of Woodstock, New York—during the famous music festival. The film received a spattering of boos during the 62nd Cannes Film Festival and is considered a low point in Lee's otherwise impressive career.

12. Wild at Heart

Although the film eventually won the Palme d’Or during the 43rd Cannes Film Festival in 1990, David Lynch’s Wild at Heart received audible jeers when it premiered. The film’s violence and torture scenes put off some audience members—but the film also had its admirers, who wildly cheered it all the way to the festival's top award.

13. Inglourious Basterds

Quentin Tarantino was lightly booed at the Cannes Film Festival for Pulp Fiction in 1994, and the director later received contempt for his World War II-era film Inglourious Basterds. Some audience members and critics took issue with Tarantino’s revisionist approach to World War II, while other felt that the film was too silly and self-indulgent for the festival.

14. The Brown Bunny

Director Vincent Gallo’s The Brown Bunny was notoriously booed and jeered for its monotonous tone and explicit sex scene during the 2003 Cannes Film Festival. Film critic Roger Ebert said the experience was “one of the most disastrous screenings I had ever attended.” The response out of Cannes was so destructive that Gallow vowed never to make a movie again. He added, “It was never my intention to make a pretentious film, a self-indulgent film, a useless film, an unengaging film."

15. The Voice of the Moon

Legendary Italian director Federico Fellini’s final film The Voice of the Moon (La voce della luna) was met with a large number of boos during the 43rd Cannes Film Festival in 1990. Critics panned the film, which they found boring and lifeless. Fellini died three years later in 1993.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
technology
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Stephen Missal
crime
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New Evidence Emerges in Norway’s Most Famous Unsolved Murder Case
May 22, 2017
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A 2016 sketch by a forensic artist of the Isdal Woman
Stephen Missal

For almost 50 years, Norwegian investigators have been baffled by the case of the “Isdal Woman,” whose burned corpse was found in a valley outside the city of Bergen in 1970. Most of her face and hair had been burned off and the labels in her clothes had been removed. The police investigation eventually led to a pair of suitcases stuffed with wigs and the discovery that the woman had stayed at numerous hotels around Norway under different aliases. Still, the police eventually ruled it a suicide.

Almost five decades later, the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK has launched a new investigation into the case, working with police to help track down her identity. And it is already yielding results. The BBC reports that forensic analysis of the woman’s teeth show that she was from a region along the French-German border.

In 1970, hikers discovered the Isdal Woman’s body, burned and lying on a remote slope surrounded by an umbrella, melted plastic bottles, what may have been a passport cover, and more. Her clothes and possessions were scraped clean of any kind of identifying marks or labels. Later, the police found that she left two suitcases at the Bergen train station, containing sunglasses with her fingerprints on the lenses, a hairbrush, a prescription bottle of eczema cream, several wigs, and glasses with clear lenses. Again, all labels and other identifying marks had been removed, even from the prescription cream. A notepad found inside was filled with handwritten letters that looked like a code. A shopping bag led police to a shoe store, where, finally, an employee remembered selling rubber boots just like the ones found on the woman’s body.

Eventually, the police discovered that she had stayed in different hotels all over the country under different names, which would have required passports under several different aliases. This strongly suggests that she was a spy. Though she was both burned alive and had a stomach full of undigested sleeping pills, the police eventually ruled the death a suicide, unable to track down any evidence that they could tie to her murder.

But some of the forensic data that can help solve her case still exists. The Isdal Woman’s jaw was preserved in a forensic archive, allowing researchers from the University of Canberra in Australia to use isotopic analysis to figure out where she came from, based on the chemical traces left on her teeth while she was growing up. It’s the first time this technique has been used in a Norwegian criminal investigation.

The isotopic analysis was so effective that the researchers can tell that she probably grew up in eastern or central Europe, then moved west toward France during her adolescence, possibly just before or during World War II. Previous studies of her handwriting have indicated that she learned to write in France or in another French-speaking country.

Narrowing down the woman’s origins to such a specific region could help find someone who knew her, or reports of missing women who matched her description. The case is still a long way from solved, but the search is now much narrower than it had been in the mystery's long history.

[h/t BBC]

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