Funny Games

Newcity Chicago

DIRECTED BY: Michael Haneke

REVIEWED: 07-13-98

For those who consider the Euro-art movie torture, a humorless, clinical, near-unwatchable high Euro-art movie about torture. Austrian director-misanthrope Michael Haneke, who has said his earlier films were about "the experience of coolness," has become pathologically attached to the notion that violence in the world today is inexplicable yet the fault of anyone who dares watch its depiction. The dead-serious hauteur-auteur of movies such as "Benny's Video" and "71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance" once again attacks his favorite subject, violence as it is portrayed in the media. I truly despised Haneke's earlier films and hadn't any intentions of seeing more. He says his newest, about the inexplicable torture of a bourgeois family at their lakeside house by a pair of unfunny buffoons, is a study of "pain, a violation of others." (Their own games guessing at the source of bits of classical music repertoire, is interrupted by what seems to be groaning heavy metal, but is in fact by John Zorn, a high-art maven of another stripe. Even Haneke's trash has to come from an elevated source.) Haneke goes on, "How do I show the viewer his own position in relation to violence and its portrayal?" By making vacuous, excruciating, piss-elegant and sadistic movies such as this and posing as a philosopher, that's how. If anybody wants a copy of Haneke's two-page director's statement, let me know and I'll send it to you. 103m. 35mm.

--Ray Pride

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