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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Location: milwaukee, wi

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Why I'm not going to see Funny Games U.S. this weekend (or ever).

Apparently, director Michael Haneke recently thought about his 1997 film Funny Games and thought that it was even more applicable to American culture in the 21st century than it was to German society right before the milennium. For most directors, the answer would have been a sigh and an "Oh well." But not for Haneke. 10 years after the fact, he decided to remake his revered (in certain circles) film for American audiences, in English, with stars like Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, and Michael Pitt, and it's opening this weekend.

But this is no ordinary remake. No, it's a shot-for-shot remake. Literally nothing is different about the film except the actors and the fact that the dialogue is in English. Let's ignore the fact that I hated the original for a second; this is the height of self-promotion for an artist. If Haneke could just admit that he's looking to break through past just the American art-house audience into a wider one, that he's looking for some sort of notoriety with his brutal remake, I could respect that and move on. But Haneke apologists on IMDB are insisting that he remade it because it's so meaningful for today's American culture, what with the Iraq war and the political climate. Really. Really? I highly doubt it.

Now let's go back to the fact that this is a shitty, pretentious movie in the first place. I (obviously) have no problem with unlikable characters, or brutality, or violence in movies -- much of the criticism I've read focuses on the brutal, "I want to take a shower after" nature of the movie, but I don't mind that. My problem is that some of the tactics used (and if you've seen the movie, you know exactly what I'm talking about) are the height of directorial ridiculousness. When said moment happened, I literally yelled at my TV screen. I wanted to throw the DVD across the room. It's not post-modern, it's utterly lazy and a big wink to the audience. I almost always hate when movies are self-aware, and this is the most self aware of them all. That moment defines why I just don't like Haneke as a filmmaker.

So screw you, Michael Haneke. I'm not paying a second time to see a movie I hated the first time through, and even if I had liked the movie (which I have been assailed by almost every film fan I know for hating, by the way), why in God's name would I want to see the exact same fucking thing again? It didn't work for Gus van Sant, and I hope to high heavens it doesn't work for Haneke, although it appears that critics are already eating out of his hands.

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