Thursday, March 11, 2010
FUNNY GAMES, dir. michael haneke, 1997
for anna, georg, and their young son, summer holidays begin like a "genre film." at the end, everything turns out differently (from the cannes website).
nihilism! violence! no remorse! no guilt!
controversy rating: 4/10
overall rating: 6.5/10
funny games as scored by your favourite punk band:
gardeners are death!
upper class is murder!
white short-shorts are death!
golf is murder!
rationality is death!
yachting is murder!
politeness is death!
in a moment of cinematic bonding further cementing our controversial friendship, following the credits jordaan and i both immediately cited the same scene as the one which most impressed us in the film. after having watched one of the attackers make a sandwich while hearing a violent scuffle, blaring television and a single gunshot, the camera cuts to a static shot of the white/off-white/beige living room, with the couch blocking much of the foreground. we see the son almost out of the frame on the far right, on his stomach and with a spray of blood on the wall. the father is barely visible, blocked by the couch, as is the mother. after an uncomfortably long period, she calmly gets up and goes to the father, who is silent. for an uncomfortably long period, he then shrieks and wails while she holds him. she gets up again and says they need to get moving. what came to my mind first (though obviously is not the first) was kiyoshi kurosawa’s tactic of slow, often pulled back, shots in which the horrible/terrible event (most often a ghost advancing, as in retribution) are drawn out to a point where the horror/terror is lessened and becomes beautiful rather than merely scary. the same thing happens in this scene.
controversy rating: 4/10
overall rating: 7/10
people seem to get pretty up-in-arms about michael haneke, considering his films frequently don't end with a nice tied-up bow of narrative continuity or salvation for the characters. the audience is left asking more questions instead of being given answers. his films also tackle violent and sexual subject matter, but unlike most of the films we've seen in this club so far, the violence and sexuality in his films, and funny games definitely, happens off-screen entirely, instead focusing on the faces of victims / victimizers or the sounds coming from another room (which ends up being plenty effective).
while this wasn't my favourite michael haneke film, i definitely did enjoy it for the most part. some of the breaking-of-the-fourth-wall stuff was a bit annoying; it kind of beat the point of the film into the ground a bit more than i felt was necessary. i didn't give it a very high "controversy rating," and only because i feel like the way the film poses questions about violence without actually succumbing to the regular tropes of blood and guts separates it from other films of this genre. i guess that is controversial, in its own way, but that's a kind of controversy i can support!
they all die. isn't that cool?