I was on my feet with my coat on as the press screening of Lars von Trier‘s Nymphomaniac, Volume 1 ended around 2:35 pm. I nudged and side-stepped my way out of the dark theatre and then scurried to the Hyatt press conference salon across the street in hopes of getting a seat. But the place was already packed to the rafters. Half of the seated journalists there probably hadn’t attended the screening. I’ll say it again — this is not the Berlinale but the Darwinale — a frenzied festival of ferrets and foxes with overcoats and blase expressions, panting and scrambling for tickets and access with God knows many thousands of smartphones fighting for “air” and all but eradicating each other (I couldn’t even get email after the screening). It’s a pigfuck, this festival. It makes Toronto feel like Telluride.

At this afternoon’s Nymphomaniac press conference, costars Shia LaBeouf (about ten minutes before he walked out) and Stacy Martin

LaBeouf attending tonight’s premiere.

So I was out-scrambled on my way to the press conference although I caught Shia LeBeouf‘s walk-out. Soon after I decided to head back to the Charlottenburg pad rather than try to file from one of the cafes, which I presumed would probably have shitty wifi anyway because the whole Berlinale Palatz area is one big dead zone. I took the S-Bahn to Savignyplatz, began to write, uploaded the photos and videos. All of a sudden I was seized by an urge to take a 20-minute nap. So I set the alarm and woke up four hours later. In so doing I missed LaBeouf’s paper-bag appearance at the premiere but what the hell. Seriously, what difference could it possibly make if I was there or watched it online or whatever?

I probably feel the same way about the “zoo” as LaBeouf does. He hates the tabloid obsessions that make up so much of the celebrity-chasing “conversation” these days, and where people are coming from when they talk to to him. On the other hand he’s gotten himself into trouble with his short-film plagiarism and hair-trigger temper and whatnot.

10 or 12 minutes into the press conference, LaBeouf was asked a generic question about making a film that is rife with sex scenes. His reply, borrowed from French soccer star Eric Cantona, is already the stuff of legend: “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.” LaBeouf then said “thank you very much” and got up and left the press conference.

This guy is really, really in a fucked-up place. I know he’s decided in his head that it’s actually the news media (particularly the online branch) that’s in the fucked-up place but he’s not dealing with things from a position of strength or security or clarity of mind. He’s got more turbulence in him than even I had in my 20s. I once saw him give Carey Mulligan (whom he was seeing romantically during the making of Oliver Stone‘s Wall Street sequel) one of the darkest looks I’ve ever seen in my life.

Von Trier was around but he didn’t attend the press conference due to his “vow of silence.” I was surprised that he wore that “Persona Non Grata” Cannes Film Festival T-shirt as a festival spokesperson has explained very clearly that they consider his flippant Nazi comments at that notorious Melancholia press conference to be water under the bridge and that he’s good to go, etc.

(l to.r) Nymphomaniac costars Stacy Martin, Stellan Skarsgard, Uma Thurman.