mar 16

Funny Games Game

Color me confused by the massive critical repulsion toward Funny Games (someone really needs to write about how the big New York film critics -- yes, all of them, in one way or another -- are so scared of hyper-violence). I saw a midnight showing on opening night and, although it wasn't mind-blowing, I like what it's trying to do. (Has anyone called it "Clockwork Orange for the digital age" yet? If not, I want to see my name blurbed on the DVD.) Anyway, you need a link! So play the Funny Games Game, which involves torturing your friends with phone calls (which I find more repulsive than anything the film could muster!). [via]


And more:

I haven't read the Cineaste / Film Comment type stuff yet, but what I find fascinating is how it actually doesn't show any acts of violence until the end -- everything is implied but not seen. The camera work for this is pretty fascinating. And then, when there finally is an instance of violence... without giving it away, digital manipulation erases it. It's like there's suddenly a narrative release, but it's quickly retracted. It's all about non-satisfying satisfaction. The Lacanians will, er, eat up this shit!

posted by Rex at 2:52 PM on March 16, 2008

Thank you! I thought I was the only one who thought it was way smarter than people give it credit for. Not just its commentary about violence, but its total subversion of horror-movie storytelling. (Though I admit all the meta-film stuff worked way better in the 90s.)

posted by Melissa at 10:43 AM on March 17, 2008

Hmm... Taking Sides: NY Establishment Crits v. Lacanians

Is the movie smarter than Haneke makes it sound in his interviews, where he's all "Oooh, you vile Americans! I shall rape you into awareness of your fascination with violence by forcing you to see Naomi Watts in her underwear!"?

posted by Keith at 12:02 PM on March 17, 2008

Maybe it's because the entire setup is so smug and condescending? "Oooh, he's subverting terror-film cliches! I'm so clever for noticing! And he's so clever for doing it in the first place! Let us all float together to the Isle of Superior."

posted by Matos W.K. at 2:02 PM on March 17, 2008

Nah, I don't think it's like that. In fact, the only scenes I thought were too-clever condescending were when the characters talk directly to the camera, and those are the least interesting parts of the movie anyway. Anthony Lane made a really good point that the self-awareness actually makes the movie less hard-hitting, because you're being reminded that it's *only a movie.* Matos, I want to tell you what I thought was interesting about the terror-film cliche stuff, but I don't want to send out spoilers - email me when you've seen the movie! I would like to discuss!

posted by Melissa at 4:35 PM on March 17, 2008

Also, who needs Lacan when you've got Rob Nelson?

I think remembering that this film was originally made as a reaction to the era of Natural Born Killers and Reservoir Dogs - two of the most self-conscious movies about movies about violence - makes it more bearable.

posted by Melissa at 4:48 PM on March 17, 2008

I completely disagree that breaking the forth wall gave it less impact. This was the directors way of engaging us as an audience and not letting us slip into passively watching the film. He was saying, you are taking part in this violence by watching this movie.

posted by Johnny at 5:26 PM on March 17, 2008

If I'm somehow implicated in the violence I watch onscreen, does that mean I get credit when people do nice things for each other onscreen?

To throw this out there: As a general rule, do you think metafiction is more playful than metafilm, which seems to favor the "gotcha" technique?

posted by Keith at 7:45 PM on March 17, 2008

Ha, I like the way Rob's review places Haneke firmly in the horror tradition he probably thinks he's subverting.

posted by Keith at 7:51 PM on March 17, 2008

Strange... Everything I've been reading has been in love with this film. (Then again, most of the film coverage I read is not NY-based....)

posted by sjb at 12:49 PM on March 18, 2008

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