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Michael Haneke's Funny Games (2007)

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Michael Haneke's Funny Games (2007)

Old 12-08-06, 08:35 AM
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Michael Haneke's Funny Games (2007)

I was looking up Michael Haneke on the IMDB and lo and behold, I see this entry for 2007.

A Funny Games remake! I shiver for a second and then see he's still writing it and directing it. And let's see, we've got Naomi Watts (supposedly), Tim Roth, Michael Pitt (nice!) and Brady Corbett (Thunderbirds).

My guess is it will be out in a year or so.

Now I've got another movie besides At World's End to look forward to next year. I'm confident this remake won't be anything like The Vanishing and have a cop-out ending to please American audiences.

What are your thoughts?
Old 12-08-06, 09:09 AM
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Reminded of hearing George Sluizer talk at a screening (for the Stone Raft) a few years ago. Sluizer came very close to being apologetic for the Vanishing remake once it was brought up. He did express regret and lamented the final product, but didn't expressly blame the producers. His excuse was that the production had seen so much conflict and interference that when the time came around to put together the climax, he was so beaten down he just gave in.

So that's his side of the story.

As for Funny Games, it's a Haneke feature I have yet to see (think I've seen 5 of his films). Sometimes I find him frustrating, other times amazing, but always in command of the craft.

So if this remake sees the light of day I can be sure to find the original playing in one of the art-house theaters here in Chicago, which is nice.
Old 12-08-06, 09:14 AM
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I can't imagine that a remake - especially one with a very watchable "star" like Watts - could possibly have anywhere near the same level of raw, this-is-so-fucked terror that the original had. It is probably one of the great 'feel bad movies' of all time.

I'm 110% happy with the first one. A remake - Haneke or not - just seems superfluous. Sluizer's botching of The Vanishing remake should be a HUGE warning sign of what can go horribly wrong, even with best intentions....

Last edited by Pointyskull; 12-08-06 at 09:20 AM.
Old 12-08-06, 09:19 AM
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I love Watts and the original movie, so count me in.

Watts gets a freebie card from me since she showed every range of emotion and every form of acting in Mulholland Drive, she can do anything, and do it very well.

Plus I enjoy remakes, I mean, I prefer originals, but remakes always intrigue me.
Old 12-08-06, 11:01 AM
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When they announced this I wasn't really open to the idea. I couldn't figure out why he'd remake Funny Games instead of offering us an original film. I've seen and own all of his movie's, and it kind of upset me that since "Cache" managed to gain a small North American audience his fans would have to suffer through this remake.

After having a while to think about it however, I respect and appreciate that he needs to make money like everyone else, and of all his films Funny Games is easily the one that is most commercially viable. I'd rather he remake Funny Games then ruin his next film by attempting to target the audience Cache managed to capture by chance (it was a good film, I just didn't expect it to get the fame it did). Maybe this will be his North American contribution, and his next film will be more like his earlier works. Cache was a brilliant film in my eyes, but I've always preferred the 7th Continent trilogy and Das Schloss to his more recent work.

On the same note, will a North American audience appreciate the message being sent in the film? All of the violence in Funny Games is implied (part of the brilliance obviously), but I'm not sure people going to theatre's in America will enjoy a thriller in which all the violence is off screen. People have become accustomed to blood and gore, so this might end up being a "flop" in the audience’s eyes, especially since I can see the people marketing will push it as a dramatic thriller. The original was tense and very smart cinema, but I went in with an Arthouse state of mind. I'm not sure my kid sister could appreciate the film the same way I did.
Old 12-08-06, 11:58 AM
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The original blew me away... I doubt I will watch a remake.
Old 12-11-06, 07:19 AM
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The original ending better be there.
Spoiler:
That was the final sucker punch in the gut
Old 08-31-07, 03:18 PM
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Michael Pitt's in it, I'm genuinely interested.
Old 08-31-07, 03:25 PM
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I'll watch this, if for no other reason, because I love Naomi Watts. And I loved the original. Seeing as how this is shot-for-shot I'm pretty sure we can count on the ending remaining intact.
Old 09-14-07, 02:42 AM
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This hits theaters in February. Here is the trailer
http://video.msn.com/v/us/fv/fv.htm?...-f281e8d11864&

Looks good to me!
Old 09-14-07, 02:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Seantn
This hits theaters in February. Here is the trailer
http://video.msn.com/v/us/fv/fv.htm?...-f281e8d11864&

Looks good to me!
Well thats a weird trailer.
Old 09-14-07, 03:14 PM
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I love the original, so I won't be watching the remake (keeping in mind the travesty of Sluizer's U.S. "Vanishing" remake).
The only aspect I would see as an improvement is the excision of the Brechtian interregnum of Arno Frisch's character (using the TV remote to pause and rewind the film to change events). It was an unnecessary and annoying tactic that threw cold water on the film's very real horror.
Old 09-14-07, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Norm de Plume
Brechtian interregnum
Translation for dummies?

I thought the trailer looked good, but that's probably because I thought the original was good and this is essentially shot-for-shot. I still think it's pointless, but if I can watch Naomi Watts tied up for 2 hours color me happy.
Old 09-15-07, 12:41 AM
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Originally Posted by KillerCannabis
Translation for dummies?
Just google "Verfremdungseffekt"
Old 09-15-07, 12:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Seantn
This hits theaters in February. Here is the trailer
http://video.msn.com/v/us/fv/fv.htm?...-f281e8d11864&

Looks good to me!
Wow, that's pretty messed up. I can't to see this.
Old 09-15-07, 01:35 AM
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Haha it really is a shot for shot remake, at least they got some really good actors to do it.
Old 09-15-07, 03:17 AM
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The trailer remind me of Psycho remake.
Old 09-19-07, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Norm de Plume
I love the original, so I won't be watching the remake (keeping in mind the travesty of Sluizer's U.S. "Vanishing" remake).
The only aspect I would see as an improvement is the excision of the Brechtian interregnum of Arno Frisch's character (using the TV remote to pause and rewind the film to change events). It was an unnecessary and annoying tactic that threw cold water on the film's very real horror.
But the "very real horror" on-screen is all artifice, and we're supposed to understand that.

The film - and that scene in particular - is a means by which Haneke interrogates the audience's reaction, its reflexive passions, as well perhaps an interrogation (if not indictment) of the whole genre of "revenge" cinema. Haneke is underscoring how certain dramatic conventions provoke something akin to a Pavlovian response in the viewer. And it's easy to do so: (1) enable the viewer to personally identify with the protagonist; (2) introduce a dark force/person that places that protagonist in great peril; (3) illustrate the inherent evil/moral ambivalence of the perilous element and simultaneously the desparation and hopelessness of the protagonist's situation; finally, (4) allow the protagonist an opportunity to escape the peril and - of crucial importance - create the necessity of her exacting a morally justifiable "vengeance" in order to do so.

Blam!

Out comes the remote, the tape is rewound, and Haneke reveals the artifice. And we recognize having fallen for an all-too-typical and familiar genre convention, but in his film it's highlighted, underscored, fixed wriggling to a pin for our consideration. He is interrogating and allowing us to explore our response to a certain set of situational ethics. And these "situational ethics" are so attractive to the human animal as to have created a narrative genre unto itself, a "safe" context within which we can antagonize the bloodlust and then satisfy it, neatly delivered and commoditized, and without deviating from the precise stimulae that allows for guilt-free, reflection-free, um, enjoyment.

Yeah... he's wagging a finger in our faces. It's crucial to the theme of the film.

Of course, when Anna blows away her abductor, Haneke isn't exactly forcing anyone to applaud. We could just as well cry, laugh, cringe, cover our eyes, or simply remain unresponsive. He simply wants his viewers to question whether they were justified in their reactions. When the tables are turned, and the victim is given the opportunity to escape her peril and exact her revenge, is our bloodlust any different than that of the exploitation film's audience? Is our satisfaction upon the kill any less... satisfying?

After all, most audiences will accept a pure revenge motive, but not without feeling a bit dirty, not without the conscious awareness that our darker natures are being exploited and manipulated, triggering that rush of bloodlust that's only satisfied by the kill. And "the kill" in this context becomes the money shot, the ultimate climax of the drama of vengeance. It's pornography of a sort, and I think most viewers are conscious of a certain degree of prurience in their enjoyment of that sort of fare (think "I spit on your grave" or "The hills have eyes").

In addition, when the "tape" is rewound, the viewer is reminded that the real world does not conform to the narrative conventions we may find so satisfying. And, after all, as Arno notes in a slightly different context, the mayhem must be of feature length to be commercially viable.

Last edited by Richard Malloy; 09-19-07 at 02:17 PM.
Old 09-19-07, 04:07 PM
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I'm really interested in how the American audience would react to the ending thinking this is going to be some "generic" thriller. I'm an anticipating either a big "WTF" with mouths open, or the scratch to the scalp wondering what the hell just happened.
Old 09-20-07, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Richard Malloy
But the "very real horror" on-screen is all artifice, and we're supposed to understand that.

The film - and that scene in particular - is a means by which Haneke interrogates the audience's reaction, its reflexive passions, as well perhaps an interrogation (if not indictment) of the whole genre of "revenge" cinema. Haneke is underscoring how certain dramatic conventions provoke something akin to a Pavlovian response in the viewer. And it's easy to do so: (1) enable the viewer to personally identify with the protagonist; (2) introduce a dark force/person that places that protagonist in great peril; (3) illustrate the inherent evil/moral ambivalence of the perilous element and simultaneously the desparation and hopelessness of the protagonist's situation; finally, (4) allow the protagonist an opportunity to escape the peril and - of crucial importance - create the necessity of her exacting a morally justifiable "vengeance" in order to do so.

Blam!

Out comes the remote, the tape is rewound, and Haneke reveals the artifice. And we recognize having fallen for an all-too-typical and familiar genre convention, but in his film it's highlighted, underscored, fixed wriggling to a pin for our consideration. He is interrogating and allowing us to explore our response to a certain set of situational ethics. And these "situational ethics" are so attractive to the human animal as to have created a narrative genre unto itself, a "safe" context within which we can antagonize the bloodlust and then satisfy it, neatly delivered and commoditized, and without deviating from the precise stimulae that allows for guilt-free, reflection-free, um, enjoyment.

Yeah... he's wagging a finger in our faces. It's crucial to the theme of the film.

Of course, when Anna blows away her abductor, Haneke isn't exactly forcing anyone to applaud. We could just as well cry, laugh, cringe, cover our eyes, or simply remain unresponsive. He simply wants his viewers to question whether they were justified in their reactions. When the tables are turned, and the victim is given the opportunity to escape her peril and exact her revenge, is our bloodlust any different than that of the exploitation film's audience? Is our satisfaction upon the kill any less... satisfying?

After all, most audiences will accept a pure revenge motive, but not without feeling a bit dirty, not without the conscious awareness that our darker natures are being exploited and manipulated, triggering that rush of bloodlust that's only satisfied by the kill. And "the kill" in this context becomes the money shot, the ultimate climax of the drama of vengeance. It's pornography of a sort, and I think most viewers are conscious of a certain degree of prurience in their enjoyment of that sort of fare (think "I spit on your grave" or "The hills have eyes").

In addition, when the "tape" is rewound, the viewer is reminded that the real world does not conform to the narrative conventions we may find so satisfying. And, after all, as Arno notes in a slightly different context, the mayhem must be of feature length to be commercially viable.
I acknowledge and agree with most of what you wrote, however I prefer films to not be so nakedly pedantic as to in fact freeze the action to supply an academic lecture on the audience's psychology and expectations.
An American studio-overseen remake in the manner of the aforementioned "The Vanishing" would proceed predictably from Anna's surprise possession of the gun. She would blow away both bad guys (to which the spoon-fed audience would be expected to react with obedient reactionary glee), and the Arno character would be made to come back to life for the obligatory Slasher's Last Grab At The Ankles.
I simply would have preferred if the perfect, uncompromising existential bleakness had been carried through to the end without editorial comment. The film would have been even more powerful and grueling than it is in its flawed state.
Old 09-21-07, 06:30 AM
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If Michael Haneke directs it, I watch it. I don't think the average American viewer understands a thing that goes on in his films, and I was actually surprised that Caché caught on. La Pianiste, still his best, but then again I am very partial to Isabelle Huppert.
Old 09-21-07, 08:58 AM
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Thats because you have an elitist mindset, American viewers understand more than people give them credit for, a lot just don't understand the concept of working to find meaning. Of course it doesn't help that so many mainstream movies don't require a lick of thought.
Old 09-24-07, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Norm de Plume
I acknowledge and agree with most of what you wrote, however I prefer films to not be so nakedly pedantic as to in fact freeze the action to supply an academic lecture on the audience's psychology and expectations. . . . . . I simply would have preferred if the perfect, uncompromising existential bleakness had been carried through to the end without editorial comment. The film would have been even more powerful and grueling than it is in its flawed state.
Well, Haneke is nothing but nakedly pedantic, academic, moralistic, and everything of the sort. I would think it would rub me the wrong way, too, but I always find his films refreshingly bold, utterly unique, and completely uncompromised. Maybe he's some kind of exception to a rule in that I both like and admire his films despite the pedantry and moralism. And I'd like to think that there's a place for this type of filmmaking. Perhaps it's just that the usual film of this sort is either platitudinous muck or reactionary bombast, and so have earned the knee-jerk opprobrium that you (and I, at least usually) afford them.

Great interview in the NY TIMES over the weekend, in case you missed it [it's quite long; the following excerpts are a rather brief portion, hopefully relevant to this thread]: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/23/ma...pagewanted=all

Making waves, however, is what Haneke has become famous for. Over the last two decades, the director has developed a reputation for stark, often brutal films that place the viewer — sometimes subtly, sometimes explicitly — in the uncomfortable role of accomplice to the crimes playing out on-screen. This approach has made Haneke one of contemporary cinema’s most reviled and revered figures, earning him everything from accusations of obscenity to a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art next month. “Funny Games,” the movie Haneke was shooting in New York and Long Island, is the American remake of a highly controversial film by the same name that he directed in 1997. It was from its beginnings targeted at the American moviegoing public — and no other word but “targeted” will do. “Funny Games” is a direct assault on the conventions of cinematic violence in the United States, and the new version of the film, with its English-speaking cast and unmistakably American production design, makes this excruciatingly clear. More surprising still, Haneke remade this attack on the Hollywood thriller for a major Hollywood studio, Warner Independent Pictures, and refused to alter the original film’s story in the slightest.

“ ‘Funny Games’ is an anti-genre film,” Haneke told me over lunch on his last day in New York. “It moves like a thriller, it has a thriller’s structure, but at the same time it comments on itself. A movie is always a manipulation, regardless of whether it’s a biopic or a romantic comedy, and ‘Funny Games’ takes this manipulation as its primary subject. So you were perfectly right to feel uncomfortable.” “People in the film industry underestimate their audience,” he continued. “I believe the viewer is fundamentally more intelligent than most films give him credit for, but only if you give him the opportunity to use his brain.”

This question of who’s watching — both within the film and outside of it — is one of Haneke’s chief obsessions. For most successful directors, whether in Europe or America, the audience exists to be entertained; for Haneke it seems to exist to be confronted. Where another director might cut tactfully away, Haneke’s camera lingers. His screenplays, which he always writes himself, have a sense of purpose about them that only polemic works of art can have. The ideology that underlies Haneke’s filmmaking is a deeply personal, idiosyncratic one, but it’s an ideology nonetheless. Haneke is a man very much at odds with the accepted values of the industry he works in, and if you ask him, he’ll be happy to tell you why.

“Political manipulation is rampant in the American media,” Haneke told me over lunch in downtown Manhattan last winter. “It’s present in the movies too, of course. It’s everywhere. I teach filmmaking in Vienna, and I like to show my students ‘Triumph of the Will,’ by Leni Riefenstahl, then something by Sergei Eisenstein — ‘Battleship Potemkin,’ for example — and then ‘Air Force One,’ the movie in which Harrison Ford plays the U.S. president. Each of these films has a distinct political agenda, but all make use of exactly the same techniques, all have a common goal — the total manipulation of the viewer. What’s terrible about the Harrison Ford film, though, especially terrible, is that it represents itself as simple entertainment. The audience doesn’t realize there’s a message hidden there.” Haneke sat back and shook his head gravely.

The difference between Haneke’s agenda and that of films like “Air Force One” was cast into sharp relief at the premiere of the original “Funny Games” in Cannes. “It was funny — funny for me, at least — how the theater reacted to Anna’s shooting of Dickie,” Haneke told me, referring to a scene late in the film when the heroine turns the tables on her captors. “There was actual applause at first — then, when the scene is rewound, making the audience conscious of what it’s cheering for, the theater went absolutely silent. There was a general realization, even though the victim in this case was a villain in the film, that they’d been applauding an act of murder.” Haneke frowned slightly at the memory, but the frown appeared to be one of satisfaction. “I’m hoping for something similar when ‘Funny Games’ shows here.”

‘Funny Games’ was always made with American audiences in mind, since its subject is Hollywood’s attitude toward violence. And nothing has changed about that attitude since the first version of my film was released — just the opposite, in fact.” When I asked whether the average American moviegoer was likely to appreciate having his attitude adjusted, Haneke-style, the director thought for a moment, then threw up his hands in mock surrender. “I’ve been accused of ‘raping’ the audience in my films, and I admit to that freely — all movies assault the viewer in one way or another. What’s different about my films is this: I’m trying to rape the viewer into independence.”

At certain moments, a conversation with Haneke can feel like a clandestine meeting with the leader of the Cinematic Liberation Front, and this was one of them. Even the word “exploitation” has taken on a kind of lurid appeal — blaxploitation, sexploitation — in the current cultural landscape, and his argument struck me as both romantic and dated. When I said as much — tactfully, of course — to Haneke, he simply nodded. Then I realized that was exactly his point.

Haneke has his own theory for the divergent routes taken by Hollywood and Europe, one in which, perhaps not surprisingly, the darker side of German and Austrian history plays a central role. “At the beginning of the 20th century,” he told me, “when film began in Europe, storytelling of the kind still popular in Hollywood was every bit as popular here. Then the Nazis came, and the intellectuals — a great number of whom were Jewish — were either murdered or managed to escape to America and elsewhere. There were no intellectuals anymore — most of them were dead. Those who escaped to America were able to continue the storytelling approach to film — really a 19th-century tradition — with a clear conscience, since it hadn’t been tainted by fascism. But in the German-speaking world, and in most of the rest of Europe, that type of straightforward storytelling, which the Nazis had made such good use of, came to be viewed with distrust. The danger hidden in storytelling became clear — how easy it was to manipulate the crowd. As a result, film, and especially literature, began to examine itself. Storytelling, with all the tricks and ruses it requires, became gradually suspect. This was not the case in Hollywood.”

Last edited by Richard Malloy; 09-24-07 at 12:11 PM.
Old 09-24-07, 04:04 PM
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Thanks for posting the article.

I disagree with the contention that Haneke's films are generally pedantic, and certainly they are not in the direct way of "Funny Games". To the contrary, he is one of the most graceful and austere of modern directors. I haven't seen "Cache", but of those I have seen only "Benny's Video" has the same deliberated filmer/viewer dialectic, and there it engulfed most of the film and wasn't so clumsily handled. Even "Funny Games", for most of its length, in its quiet naturalism, is just a stunningly directed and acted (Lothar especially), immensely discomforting chamber drama. That's why the bludgeoning interjection of open commentary was so objectionable to me. It brought the story to a dead stop for a couple of minutes before the movie, thankfully, recovered. He could have found a more subtle, incorporated way to indict the viewer's preconceptions. Regardless, it's still a near-great film.
Old 09-24-07, 04:24 PM
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I will say I saw Funny Games about a year ago and completely loved it... except for the aforementioned scene which completely drew me out of the picture.

The difference between Haneke’s agenda and that of films like “Air Force One” was cast into sharp relief at the premiere of the original “Funny Games” in Cannes. “It was funny — funny for me, at least — how the theater reacted to Anna’s shooting of Dickie,” Haneke told me, referring to a scene late in the film when the heroine turns the tables on her captors. “There was actual applause at first — then, when the scene is rewound, making the audience conscious of what it’s cheering for, the theater went absolutely silent. There was a general realization, even though the victim in this case was a villain in the film, that they’d been applauding an act of murder.” Haneke frowned slightly at the memory, but the frown appeared to be one of satisfaction. “I’m hoping for something similar when ‘Funny Games’ shows here.”
I would like to say that I watched the film by myself and when Anna shoots Dickie I let out an audible cheer. I can't remember the last time thats ever happened. Then when the scene rewound, I certainly never felt like "I'd been applauding an act of murder" because calling it anything other than self defense seems silly. Maybe I'm too American and Haneke thinks I'm an idiot, but I never even remotely got that that was what he was going for. To me all it said was "this movie isn't going to let the protagonist off the hook ever."

If Haneke feels it's not okay to shoot a guy who's going to kill you, that's his right. If he wants to get that point across and try and make me feel guilty, he can try to do that too. However, he should at least try and do it within the conventions of the film itself, and in doing so it might make a bit more sense to the audience.

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