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Gaspar Redux: Noe Unveils Porn to NYU Students

Confirming his reputation as a provocative director for the second time in as many nights, Gaspar Noe delivered a pedagogical lesson Wednesday at NYU, where he presented his latest project, We Fuck Alone. The short pornographic movie -- which he showed to an unprepared class of future directors and screenwriters -- is part of Destricted, an erotic compilation with contributions from seven controversial artists including Matthew Barney and Larry Clark. (The film premiered at Sundance earlier this year.)

Noe's 23-minute piece features a couple having sex on television and a young girl masturbating to a teddy bear while a punk jerks off to an inflatable doll. Shot with a small DV camera between Los Angeles and New York, it employs strobes and the soundtrack of a heartbeat and a crying baby -- a few of his regular features. Student reaction was divided; some called it boring, but Noe explained that he enjoys working with non-professional actors and was basically performing an experiment.

"I tried to see how much people can take -- what their physical reaction to the screen will be," he said. "Strangely," he noted, "there is no pornographic masterpiece." A few other students, encouraged by the film, showed a bizarre interest for the director's sex life. "I masturbated a lot as a teenager, sometimes smoking joints and watching films," he confessed, shrugging.

The son of a painter and a feminist worker, Noe grew up as a film buff. "I was obsessed with 2001: A Space Odyssey, which made me want to become a director," he said. "I also enjoyed movies like Deliverance and Videodrome, and I hated Hollywood comedies. I still do".

The 42-year-old native Argentinean was once called a "dangerous filmmaker" by the classic French periodical Les Cahiers du Cinema (which Noe told The Reeler he is at war with). The controversy surrounding his films largely has to do with the violence, rape, incest and other twisted morality he portrays in his features I Stand Alone and Irreversible, but Noe says he doesn't believe in good and evil. "Before being humans," he told me, "we are animals."

Then what is the difference between sensationalism and drama?

"I don't know, but my movies could be defined as hardcore entertainment," Noe replied. "A critic from Senses of Cinema described them as roller coasters, which I liked. I like to scare people."

With his shaved head and teenage manners, the filmmaker seems to not care about the visceral impact of his films on the audience. When The Reeler asked him about the way he depicts violence, he simply said: "It exists, so why not show it?"

So, is it black humor? "Some people think I'm doing something wrong, but they should try not to take my films so seriously," Noe said.

Like Larry Clark, Noe is a skilled technician who manipulates explosive material without carrying a real discourse but, rather, by having an intuitive relation to cinema. Inspired mostly by his life and obsessions, he predicted, "I won't make that many movies in my life. ... I want to carry on by doing a documentary at some point, and now I'm focusing on my Tokyo project," a "tripping" movie which will be seen from the point of view of a hallucinating mind.

A student who observed that Noe's films tend to show a male dominant world suggested his next feature should include "a man getting his dick cut off." The filmmaker didn't agree. --Clementine Gallot

Posted at October 12, 2006 2:34 PM

Comments (1)

Très bien fait! Maybe porn is the new buddy movie.

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