AGORA
: Dragged from her chariot by a mob of fanatical vigilante Christian monks, the revered astronomer was stripped naked, skinned to her bones with sharp oyster shells, stoned and burned alive as possibly the first executed witch in history. A kind of purge that was apparently big business back then.


CRITICAL WOMEN HEADLINES
THE WOMEN FILM CRITICS CIRCLE TENTH ANNIVERSARY AWARDS CEREMONY 2014 BROADCAST

Listen to the show here

3/4/08

Funny Games 2007

Funny Games 2007

Michael Haneke

A remake of the Michael Haneke 1997 film of the same name

 

Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Michael Pitt, Brady Corrbet, Devon Gearhart

 

 

Plot

A wealthy family (mother, father and son) goes on vacation to their palatial summer home  and is met by two serial killers.

 

 

Usually when I see a film I can walk out of the theater and say something about it.  But with this film I was so blown away by the sheer brilliance that I became tongue tied.

 

Where to begin?  With the opening music.  The sound isn’t soft, melodious, gently pulling you into the experience as you read the credits.  No.  The music that ushers in the film is loud, too loud, jarring and that is just what the Director Michael Haneke wants.

 

To make his audience uncomfortable, to make us think about what we are seeing rather than just sitting in the theater taking in the moments without a critical eye.

 

From the opening he then introduces the viewer to the principle actors, well, some of them, the family.  They know classical music and this sound is soft, beautiful.  It indicates that Michael Haneke does know pleasant music in contract to what he initially exposed us to.

 

Michael Haneke never forgets his audience.

Some might object to this, the interruption to talk to you as you sit through one tense grueling violent or potentially violent scene after another.  But he is saying, this is our world, as the television racecar meet accompanies the violent act of gratuitous murder.  But isn’t that exactly what we do.  We watch the football game while we continue to finance the murder of women  and children in iraq, In Afghanistan?

 

And if you didn’t understand the television as background music, Michael Haneke gives us a not uncommon experience with the cell phone to show that all these new age devices seem to  promise communication and protection and help but when we need them most, they don’t work.  Unfortunately, that too resonates with our all too frequent life experience.

The rerun of a scene   also a unusual addition to the film’s evolution, reminds us that new age technology can make anything happen and often takes what is real and not real and mixes it all up.

 

 But the most intense moment of horror for me was when Naomi Watts, an actress whom Michael Haneke specifically wanted for the part of the mother, and attractive wife, is thrown like a piece of unwanted banana peel into the lake as the boat sails on.

 

Oh the discomfort, the profound image of eggs to symbolize life and pending death, the entire concept of games being nothing that comes close to fun or funny. 

 

There are no winners in this film.  There is only a statement, a statement that I think needs to be said,  to be seen, to be understood.  Our world is a violent, disconnected, isolated place and the very educated that everyone in the film seemed to be including the serial killers, does not diminished isolation from “the essence” of life, the substance that makes it all worth while.

 

You can be part of the wealthy set with their lavish summer houses that,  kept  gated, protected, insured, and still

not escape the ravishes of this world.   There is no worthwhile preyer in the film and no God to protect us from ourselves.

 

This is a brilliant, intelligent and unfortunately accurate film that was not only made twice but should be seen many many times.

 

Thank you Michael Haneke for reminding me that I am not alone in this ever escalating nightmere.

 

LindaZ

WBAI Women’s Collective 

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