Monday, March 17, 2008

“FUNNY GAMES” & ME

I don’t think I’m going to go see Michael Haneke’s new film, a scene-for-scene American recut of his 1997 French film "FUNNY GAMES". After an article about its remaking in the NY TIMES MAGAZINE last year, I was excited to see it – particularly because I enjoyed squirming my way through two of Haneke’s other recent films, “The Piano Teacher” and “Cache”. Then the poster you see here came out, and it’s one of the best movie posters I’ve ever seen. Something about the ravishing Naomi Watts' beautiful face streaked by tears makes for a truly disturbing – yet compelling - image. Then the reviews came out. The words “torture porn” started getting thrown around. And the more I looked into the plot, the more pissed off I got about what I was expecting to see. Brutal (if off-camera) violence, enacted in a slow, torture-heavy manner, against a family of innocents. A “highbrow ‘Hostel’”, they started calling it. I wish I could believe otherwise, but there’s nothing highbrow about the systematic butchery of innocents in gruesome detail, no matter how much of a statement the director is trying to make about our “complicity” while we watch it. How about not watching it? That’s my radical solution to not being complicit.

Anyone out there seen this film, or the original?

2 comments:

Brian Turner said...

I saw the original on a friend's recommend and was pretty turned off by the whole scenario, in fact I don't think I made it to the very end. I am very intrigued though why Haneke would remake the film exactly only 11 years later, with Michael Pitt and Naomi Watts. The preview looks a bit more 'Hollywood' in many ways than the somber, very real, coldness of the original - which may be even more disturbing considering it's a prolongued snuff film. Being made more 'watchable'? I have to wonder if it's a cynical gesture on Haneke's behalf as a statement of Americans and where they are at in terms of easily disgesting uber-violence into its mainstream popular culture. Anxious to read more about its conceptualization but will refrain from seeing it.

Andre said...

I am absolutely going to see this movie. I liked the original very much. Hostel was a piece of garbage. August Underground and similar films I wouldn't even dignify by calling them garbage, and I am a big horror fan and love the gore. There were probably similar criticisms of The Desperate Hours when it came out.
I'm not saying the original FG was a great movie- it wasn't. But it was riveting and I didn't feel like I was being exploited. I did sit there thinking WTF? after the closing scene. Haneke doesn't give you any answers. And violence very often doesn't make sense.
I'm not sure what his reasons are for redoing this, save for the obvious one of reaching an audience who won't or can't read subtitles. But I like his work and that cast looks very intriguing so I'm really looking forward to it.