Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Funny Games (Michael Haneke, 1997)

I was really excited to see this film. I'm a fan of films that are disturbing in a philosophical way (and in a horror movie way, but that's another post), and this seemed to be along the same lines as something like Gaspar Noe's Irreversible, a film I really like. Was I wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Funny Games is, strangely enough, both immorally violent and seriously boring. The postmodern devices Haneke uses to make this film a critique of modern society (I think) are just precious and incredibly annoying.

Two young men, Paul and Peter, although they refer to themselves as various pop cultures names, come innocently enough to a couple and son's vacation house to borrow some eggs, and end up sadistically torturing them, physically and mentally. The first 20 minutes are promising, with a sense of tension and dread throughout every action. But once the "games" begin, the action is entirely predictable and often boring. I'll give you just a few of my problems with the film: for the first 45 minutes or so, there are plenty of opportunities for the family to escape. They are being held hostage by two men with a GOLF CLUB. That's right. I felt that there were several obvious spots where any person with any sense would have tried to escape (like when Anna went into the kitchen, without any supervision, to get Georg an aspirin). It's not like a horror film situation, where the characters are just stupid or panicking, it's just a lack of realism (to the end of hyper-realism??) on Haneke's part. The violence was predictable, and the devices that Haneke uses to achieve postmodern status, such as breaking the fourth wall and having the characters talk to the audience, as well as other things that I won't spoil here, seem very forced and unenlightening.

The ending is a total lack of resolution and any sense of the future, and while I know that's what Haneke was probably intending, that doesn't make it any more well done or less frustrating. This review is probably pretty poorly written, but I haven't been this disappointed in a film in a long, long while. Such a promising premise, such a pretentious product. I haven't liked anything I've seen by Haneke so far, and I don't think I'll be giving him another chance, at least for a little while.


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