Whenever I embark upon writing a review, I try my hardest not to bog you, the loyal readers, down with a bunch of intellectual mumbo jumbo and background info. Unfortunately, this review can not only benefit from an explanation, but it demands one.
In 1997, Michael Haneke made a film called Funny Games. It garnered some controversy, and like all shocking and experimental films, gained a devoted fan base, as well as harsh criticism.
The film was something of an exploration of modern day societies, in particular middle to middle upper class Americans, acceptance AND passion for violence.
10 years later, with NOTHING different with the exception of shooting locale and cast, Haneke remade his own film. I personally found this quite perplexing, especially since it made me feel that even if I enjoyed the remake, which I planned to see first, I would never need to see the original due to them being, essentially, carbon copies of each other.
Now, instead of wishing I could’ve enjoyed 2 different, yet similar films, I wish I had never known about either.
“Two psychotic young men take a family hostage in their cabin.”
IMDB sums it up best. And that’s it. Say goodbye to 2 hours of your life.
Haneke must really think highly of himself. I mean, to have the balls to remake your own film means that you must think it’s pretty important, important enough to have some major Hollywood actors in it and be shown to a new, wider American audience. And really, it shows in his work.
I’ve watched some shit movies in my day, and I am proud as all fucking get out about it. I’ve seen things that barely constitute as actual cinema…and enjoyed it. The common thread between “bad” movies I wound up enjoying? The people behind the camera understood, even if they don’t admit, what their movie truly is. If someone is making a movie about lesbian vampires raping small schoolgirls with baseball bats up the ass, they might try to explain how this is a political “message”, but in their heart of hearts, they know they are just shoveling fantasies to anyone desperate enough to pay $20 bucks plus shipping to satisfy their own demented perversions. The proof of this is, we never have people grow up making lesbian vampire baseball bat schoolgirl rape flicks, and then go on to direct something the likes of The Passion of the Christ.
Haneke though, seems like the kind of guy who would have a rib removed so he could suck his own dick. He seems like the kind of guy who would hold his dick so sacred, no one else could pleasure it but him. Funny Games is, at it’s best, an exercise in how to take talented actors and a descent plot, and make the most unwatchable movie possible out of those ingredients.
Oh, and before you get on your high horse, yeah YOU the reader who will undoubtedly stumble upon this article and spout out mantra’s like “you didn’t “get” it” and “it’s art, not film”, Fuck You. I got it. I understand EXACTLY what Haneke is trying…TRYING to accomplish. What he’s trying to accomplish is to keep the audience focused. See fellow Midnighters, Haneke, about 4 times through the film, has his lead, and main heavy, Paul (played beautifully by Michael Pitt, unfortunately a wasted performance) look into the camera and either give us a telling look or a nod, or directly speak to us, the audience. Haneke does this in order to “snap” the audience out of getting to into the movie and rooting for the good guys. He wants us to face the fact that we, the audience, don’t approve of psychos killing innocents, but DO approve of heroes killing villains. He’s trying to make us look within ourselves, at our own justifications and rationalizations we use for committing horrible acts of violence, and in some cases, even commit murder.
His head is in the right place, he just forgot one thing. A movie.
He didn’t need to make the good guys win. Haneke just needed a point. Like most art films, he does an admirable job of pointing things out, making acute observations, and addressing a hot button issue. But when it comes to making his final stand on the argument his film is making for almost 2 unbearable hours, he simply decides to plead the fifth, by restarting the games all over again with a neighbor and then rolling credits. It’s like reading a college term paper without a thesis. Sure, you’ve proven you can write halfway descent, and at great length, but you never prove anything. You just blow the whistle, but then run when people show up asking “what is that fucking noise?”
The most heinous crime though, is the fact that Tim Roth, Naomi Watts, Michael Pitt, and Brady Corbet seemed to really believe in this picture. Their acting is unreasonably good, and it shows a tremendous amount of professionalism on their parts, considering how many LONG (and by long I mean 10 minute plus static shots of the actors with no cuts) scenes their were, almost all including intense emotional performances. All wasted, in my opinion.
Funny Games is the perfect example of why terms like “Art House” and “Artsy-Fartsy” are dirty words to most movie fans. It seems like everytime I take the dive into the deep end of the “Art” film pool, I wind up hitting my head on the bottom. Because being told that the water is deep, and the water actually being deep, are two completely different things. Haneke uses nothing more than pretenious, polite dialogue, “shocking” off screen kills, and Sesame Street style gimmicks (remember how all the muppets used to talk to us, even while in the middle of a conversation with someone?) to try and pass off his boring, uninspired schlock as something more than the ultimate tease and a full on slap into the face of any self-respecting movie-goer.
It in my sincerest hope that this movie, via any medium, fails horribly.