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Okay... I just read most of the 144 user reviews.... Basically I wanted to
make up my mind about this film, a film that is a very heavy
I've seen this movie 5 years ago, the good thing is most of the time you forget about (having seen) it but now and then you recall it. I can understand that many people hate this film, it is not nice to watch, the more when you see it in a theatre where the only chance to break its spell is leaving the theatre. Regardless if you leave or stay and watch it leave it beats you one way or the other. I fully agree with many other reviewers that I have no idea whom I should recommend it too. I am tempted to watch it a second time but didn't make it happen in 5 years.
Don't get me wrong. I think it is an excellent movie. It is also very disturbing and upsetting, I can't think of the right mood to watch it cause it'll take you down. And I think here is where the movie polarises. If, after watching, you find yourself deducting some message in the violence, and perhaps rethink violence - in both real life and movies - you will, well, also will have found some reason for this movies existence, if not - and it might be better if one does not - you will join in the 'crappiest movie ever chorus'.
I do however want to point out some achievement of this production:
*) The movie catches the audience in theatre. *) It does shock the audience but most of the violence is off-screen. You see more people dying in many fast-driven action movies. Only here you care. There is minor suspense, but I, personally, wouldn't put it into that category. (But then I am no horror/shocker/suspense fan and can easily err here) *) It's hard to compare it with any other movie (that I have seen). I am not sure if this is an achievement, but it's outstanding.
The reason I think Haneke made this movie. or, what I deducted from it is how far away violence and death are in our everyday lives today. While Hollywood - and other film productions serve them daily right in our living room, we hardly notice them anymore. Violence also sells movies, and we're meanwhile pretty used to that. Haneke also serves violence, and he dishes it next-door. He turns into a moral figure that asks the audience if they want more (after all me and you consume it every day) - and while HERE we want to say 'no please stop' he doesn't do our silent bidding. He pushes us down the drain, forcing us to deal with aspects of the violence we don't (want to) see. He even goes one step further. He offers us a 'good' ending, a payback that would make it easier for us to bear the movie, only to snatch it back and rip us of any cheerful emotion, telling us like 'no, sorry, here it doesn't work that way'.
I also read reviews mentioning the unsatisfying (often used, cliche) end. One more time Haneke manages to disappoint us, so far we were driven and didn't know what would happen, what to expect.
Only in the ending, we see it coming, and so it ends, obviously similar to many other movies. We're back standard movie stuff, the arc bent and the connection made.
"Funny games" is everything else but the title. Perhaps it refers to the funny games built on standard film violence in everyday movies. Perhaps it doesn't. Perhaps Haneke wants to stress that violence is a bad thing. Perhaps he's just sick.
One thing for sure, regardless if you like it, don't care, or hate it. You might have seen something somewhat like it, but nothing similar.
If you hate shockers, don't watch it. It will only be torture. If you love suspense, sorry, only very little gore here.
If you plan to watch it, calculate a few hours before you will manage to put your head to rest.
And don't watch it it personal crisis.
This movie will make you feel bad. If you watch it in a cinema, just look around. You're not alone with this feeling.
I saw this movie again last night, for the third time, and once again had
keep watching each torturous minute until its chilling end. Going through
the comments index, I see the expected responses: it was boring: it was
pointless: it was too long: it's a satire: the games aren't actually that
funny: it involved the audience in a neato way: it's nothing new: it's
done before. So I here offer an interpretation to add to the cacophany of
reactions that FUNNY GAMES seem to engender.
What this movie reminds me of is the Book of Job, in the Bible, where God and Satan decide for their own amusement to torture this guy Job, killing his family, racking him with boils, and various other divine amusements. While watching this movie last night, I thought of another reference, this time from "King Lear": "Like flies to wanton schoolboys are we to the gods;/ They kill us for their sport." What this movie does is challenge the audience's own involvement in visual narrative -- usually, we watch movies from somewhere on-high and omniscient; we're invisible but we see all; we're voyeurs, just like God. In Haneke's film, we identify not with the victims but with the all-powerful killers as they set about their funny games. The two polite young men are performing their entertainments for us, the viewers; they're slaking our bloodthirst, our desire for gory spectacle - - after all, isn't this why we watch movies like this in the first place? Haneke, however, doesn't play the usual evasions; he makes explicit the audience's participation in violence; and he forces upon us the need to take responsibility for it.
I find this fascinating. I also find the negative comments here fascinating as well -- "not violent enough!" "the victims deserve to die..." "all the violence is off-screen..." "no gore at all, 'LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT' did it first, with more blood...." etc. as being inadvertantly revealing of those viewers' psyche. I especially love the comment made by that one Viking guy, who writes that Haneke's film has "no point," and goes on to say "...I just hope those people break into MY house, so I can break them in two!"
I think Haneke made his point.
This is one of those I nearly didn't watch (I thought it would be
pseudo-intellectual drivel about the evil nature of video games) - I'm
very glad I got over myself and finally did watch it one day. What an
amazingly done film! I've never seen such great acting in a German
language movie (the film is Austrian - just to be precise); the script
is full of surprises and the whole film has a tightness that is very
rare; every little detail is in the right place.
Michael Haneke always likes to challenge his audience, but even among his more controversial films 'Funny Games' stands out. The story follows the logic of a nightmare; uneasy tension gives way to unreal horror as you stare in disbelief at what's happening on screen. This is one of the most gripping films about the dark side of human nature I have ever seen; pure cinematic entertainment and yet it goes beyond that (and stays with you long after you've finished watching). A masterpiece 10 stars out of 10.
Favorite Films: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls054200841/
Lesser-known Masterpieces: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls070242495/
Favorite Low-Budget and B-movies: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls054808375/
Favorite TV-Shows reviewed: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls075552387/
First things first, Michael Haneke HATES Quentin Tarantino's films. He
the way violence and death are shown as being 'cool' - Cool gangsters
executing their enemies whilst saying cool lines (And you will know, that
name is the Lord! etc,etc)with a cool song playing in the background. This
is not how violence is in the real world, violence is a horrible fact of
life, not a glamourous thing for youths to copy, and I think Haneke
Funny Games to show it how it really is.
I watched Funny Games without the slightest clue what the film was about,
I just had to sit back and take it as it comes. At first, I wasn't too
impressed. I thought the scenes were too long and dragged out, yet at the
same time, I felt a strange feeling of suspense. The incredibly long
shots leave you that bored, that you think "Something bad is going to
soon, I can tell...". The suspense also lasts right through the film 'til
the very end. You don't want to watch it, but at the same time, you feel
hypnotised by it.
I will not detail any events of the film, to save spoiling the atmosphere, but I will note one thing that people tend to be confused about:- "Why did the family let them into the house in the first place?" The two characters of Peter and Paul are let to walk all over the family because of one flaw in the bourgios psyche - 'The more polite a person is, the better a person they are.' This absurd way of thinking is played on by Peter and Paul and they obviously score, plus 'getting into the house without breaking in' is also one of their 'games'.For those who haven't seen the film, I definitely wouldn't recommend this for a night in with the parents/girlfriend, but I definitely would for people who want to see the difference between death and Tarantino-glam. Prepare for a highly suspenseful yet sickeningly violent, non-Hollywood, edge-of-the-seat piece of art. 8/10
I think there is a valid argument to make that the universal visceral
impact that Funny Games has on audiences undermines the very thesis of
its director Michael Haneke. I use the word thesis very deliberately
because Funny Games is an intellectual academic statement. Plainly it
is not an entertainment movie but I don't consider it to be an art film
either. Haneke intended it to be neither in my opinion. I think he
intended it as an assault on both Hollywood and the audience. It's the
cinematic equivalent of punk. Rock music against rock music. This is an
analogy Haneke draws the audience to himself by overriding the
classical music Anna and Georg are listening to with some extreme punk
music on the sound track. We are left in doubt that the world of Funny
Games belongs to Peter and Paul. Anna and Georg and their bourgeois
taste in music are treated with utter contempt before Peter and Paul
even appear on the screen.
Getting back to my original point: I think there are two parts to Haneke's thesis. The first is that Hollywood has commodified and sanitised violence and turned it into thrilling entertainment. Hollywood violence doesn't show the reality of violence or its consequences on those it is inflicted on. The second part of his thesis is that Hollywood's portrayal of violence has dehumanised and inured the audience and reduced their capacity for empathy and sensitivity. I fully agree with the first part of his thesis. The problem is most people do. I think you would be hard pushed to find any reasonably intelligent, educated person who doesn't agree with Haneke in this regard. Anyone who doesn't isn't going to be enlightened by watching Funny Games. On this point I can't help feeling that he preaching to the converted.
It's the second part of his thesis that he inadvertently undermines. Haneke set out very deliberately to make violence real again so that the audience feels it in their gut. Funny Games isn't real violence though. It's still just a film. However it is a film that manages to make a huge impact on an audience well accustomed to watching violence on the screen. This clearly indicates to me that audiences are smart enough and sensitive enough to be able to tell the difference between Hollywood trite and a convincing portrayal of violence. You could argue that Haneke had to resort to making such an extreme film to have the intended impact on an audience dulled by years of cinematic violence. However Funny Games isn't actually that violent. Compared to the average Arnold Swarzenegger movie it's actually quite tame in both the quantity of violence and how graphically it's portrayed. What makes Funny Games so disturbing is the emotional content in the impact and consequences of the violence on the victims. This is effectively contrasted with the casual approach, understated sadism and emotional shallowness of the perpetrators. If audiences were as lacking in sensitivity as I think Haneke is suggesting then surely Funny Games would have simply have been accepted as another piece of horror entertainment.
Haneke said something along the lines that anyone who stops watching before the end doesn't need Funny Games, anyone who watches it to the end does need it. This strikes me as thoroughly arrogant and is quite wrong in my opinion. Nothing can be implied about anyone who watches it to the end and there is no such thing as a film that an audience needs. Funny Games is a superb piece of cinema and there is no doubt that Haneke was fully successful in what he set out to achieve. However what exactly is it that Haneke thinks that the audience needs from it? As I said earlier most of the audience already understands the point he is making about Hollywood. It seems to me that Haneke is trying to shame the audience into realising how immoral they are for watching violent films. I fundamentally disagree with him if this is his intention. Personally I have no problem with the cartoon violence of Hollywood for the very reason that it is lacking in any real emotional content. It would seem that Haneke not only has a problem with the cartoon violence in films but with actual cartoons. Both Tom and Jerry and Beavis and Butthead are referenced in Funny Games. If Haneke is seriously suggesting that Tom and Jerry cartoons are a moral problem then he is beyond ridiculous.
Having said all this I still give Funny Games a 10 out of 10. Whether we agree with Haneke or not he made us react, think, defend and argue. He also made a truly remarkable film with some of the most heart breaking and profound acting I have ever seen. Funny Games a deeply intelligent film and I don't doubt Haneke's total sincerity and moral integrity. I just don't necessarily agree with him.
Watching "Funny Games" (1997) directed by Michael Haneke for the first
time was an unforgettable visceral experience. It was the horror that
really scared, devastated, and stayed with me long after the final
scene was over. I can't easily recall another movie that made me go
through the same emotions as the innocent victims in the movie did, to
feel the same helplessness, hopelessness, despair, humiliation, and
horror. I could not stop thinking of how illusory and fragile nature of
happiness and safety is and how easy it is to shatter and destroy them.
Is it a blessing or curse not to know what lies ahead and not be able
to change the future? It's been several years since I saw the film but
it still makes me shiver just to think about it.
"Funny Games" can be first mistaken for yet another conventional thriller where the good guys always win in the end and the evil is punished. Wrong, not by Haneke. He shocks you, he hits you in the gut, and then, he shocks you again. Haneke's is a true horror for his monsters don't look like the creatures from hell. No, "they are among us", they are nice and polite, well read, shy and ironic, they have the names from the new Testament, Paul and Peter, they talk with the soft refined voices but they are monsters nevertheless who have no regard for a human life and who want to play their sadistic funny games to the extreme.
"Funny Games" is a controversial film and I've read many reviews and comments that call it "a failure", accusing the film and its creator of not having said anything new or original on the connected subjects of violence, the media, and voyeuristic audience. It may not be a new or original subject Haneke dissects in his film but how he did it, his matter-of fact approach to the material and the seemingly unemotional manner affected me deeply, and I don't think I would ever forget this film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Just when I thought I had already seen all the forms of movie violence,
Michael Haneke's "Funny games" shows up. Two friendly and ordinary looking
young blokes dressed in white neat clothes turn out to be a pair of sick and
perverted psychopaths and the sadistic molestation, tormenting, harassment
and torturing of a perfectly innocent family gets started without even a
tiny warning. Although we can't practically see even a one clear act of
physical violence during the entire film and we spot hardly a drop of blood,
"Funny games" is probably one of the most violent films there is. It's so
overfilled with mental cruelty the pressuring anxiety grows up to be
something highly enormous. For example when the torturer orders the
desperate mother to undress, camera only concentrates on showing her
agonized and painful crying face when she strips off.
At one point the other punk even looks straight at the camera and blinks his eye - inviting the staggered viewer to join this warped madness. There are certain rules in filmmaking that "Funny games" breaks and that's the sickest part of the film. We are all used to the facts like bad guys can never be the victorious ones. It's obvious the audience clearly feels sympathy for the helpless family but this time mentally ill and distorted thugs are still represented as the heroes. "Funny games" is a confusing, shocking, curious, strong and slow but very gripping film. Naturally repulsive, cruel, disgusting, frightful and sadistic but surprisingly good - most likely because it's something totally different. I can't really compare it to anything I've seen before because it's absolutely unique in its insanity. I have no idea who can I recommend it to, though. Haneke's work has to be one of the ugliest movies ever.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Funny Games was certainly thought-provoking. Haneke seems to have
enough knowledge of film to infuse this movie (and most of his films to
be honest) with a whole range of plays on established conventions
within the thriller genre. And these on the whole worked quite well. I
found the intellectual argument he puts forward less convincing though.
It appears his view is that we are all advocates of violence. The 'rewind' scene sets up the conventional retribution that normally proceeds the kidnap and torture sequences (see Straw Dogs etc). He doesn't allow us that outlet however, although he draws attention to it, thereby allowing us to examine that desire further. And the conclusion, one can draw. Yes, we call for acts of wanton violence to be administered upon arbiters of violent acts. There is a further link, I feel, he is trying to make from this position and that is this desire to see violence administered is somehow responsible for the violent world we live in. (There is, of course, another line of argument running through the film about the true visceral nature of violence but that's for another post)
I don't feel this is credible however. When a cinema audience calls for blood in a movie, I feel it is from a position of being completely aware that the narrative they are viewing is an artifice. People aren't going to be really killed. Hence, they can observe the violence being carried out in a 'comic' manner (bad guys getting shot in Westerns without a bullet hole appearing etc) and not have their disbelief in the fantasy world of the film suspended. This isn't misleading I feel, and doesn't inure people to the reality of how brutal and ugly real violence is. After all if one takes that approach then one can argue that Tom and Jerry cartoons suffer from the same problem.
I think where he may have a point, is in the manipulation of actual real-life events to make them less unsettling to an audience. I'm thinking of the Western news reports of Iraq, where disturbing footage of atrocities are cut so the Western viewer doesn't become upset or disturbed about what they're watching. This DOES desensitise the viewer to what war is about because the fact/fiction boundary has been crossed and we can't fall back on the intellectual safety nets I talked about earlier. And why is that a bad thing? Because our government is committing these acts and we have a duty to see the full horror of what they are doing in our name.
A couple of psychos terrorize a family at its remote vacation home. Frisch makes a scary villain, but the three actors playing the family are not very convincing, with the couple's nonchalant attitude towards their son particularly odd. Haneke is not so much interested in creating a thriller as in showcasing his indulgent brand of filmmaking. Here the German director has his villain break the "fourth wall" with asides to the audience. While such a device is fine for comedy, it is wholly inappropriate for a serious film. There's a scene where the screen is basically frozen for about ten minutes. And then there's a scene with the remote control that defies explanation. Pure indulgence.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
From the opening credits, "Funny Games" is already playing tricks on
the audience: as the film's family/victims drive to their summer home,
listening to classical music, Haneke splices freakout thrash metal over
shots of their unsuspecting faces. But what truly impressed me about
this film wasn't the slight gimmicks (of which there are plenty, some
more successful than others) but the muted, unobtrusive style in which
the film is shot. Extremely long takes (like the first egg scene, or
the harrowing, sparse shot of the father sitting in his living room
floor, howling for his dead son) combined with elegant cinematography
and lighting ( I liked how quite subtly the family's first
interrogation grew darker and darker, until Paul commented upon it and
turned on the lamp) never makes the camera feel an aloof presence to a
choreographed scene. That is, until Paul turns, and in a Goddardian
aside, winks knowingly at the camera's eye. At which point the audience
is instantly implicated in the vicious proceedings.
It seems here that most people get caught up in trying to explain the film's intentions. "Funny Games" isn't a film so much as a cinematic exercise in the spurious shock of violence on the silver screen. Gone are all the scapegoats of plot or genre conventions that would help make the audience feel vindicated or justified in watching, say, a man get shot because earlier he raped the film's protagonist, etc. But Haneke's film doesn't shock for the simple exploitative aspect either. When the mother is forced to strip before her torturers, the audience is kept just as blind to the proceedings as the young boy. Likewise, we don't witness the child's murder, but hear it off screen, as Paul is making himself something to eat. The films shock therefore comes not only from the brutal torture scenes but the intense apathy conveyed not only by the purposeless killers but the lack of cinematic conviction commonly combined with narrative violence, a point all the more reinforced with the film's final murder.
As Peter and Paul are sailing back into the harbor, Paul comments how seeing violence in a film is no different than witnessing it in real life. The violence portrayed in "Funny Games" is so unnerving not because of any excessive display of exploitative gore, but for the exact opposite: the banal regularity of which such atrocities occur. "Funny Games" is anything but...but as is proven by the scores of reader responses, it's sure to provoke some reaction. Whether you think its fascinating or revolting, regardless it makes you think.
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