Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Frank Review of "Funny Games" (1997)

The Short Version? A family tormented 'til death.
What Is It? Horror/Drama.
Who Is In It? Nobody.
Should I See It? No. No. No.

So I keep going back to the psychotronic video, thinking I'm cool for handling this transgressive fare, and then running to my Netflix queue to chuck single and double stars at the shit. Why do I do this to myself?

Funny Games is a wretched waste of film and time. The story is about a mother, father, and their young son being tortured and butchered by a pair of sadistic psychopaths for their personal amusement. That may seem like a spoiler, but if you didn't see the ending coming before the credit sequence ended, you are at best naive. I watched the film with disinterest and nausea, assuming that an artist might have something to say at the end of this catastrophe.

It's bad enough I subjected myself to his smugly hateful piece of torture porn, but to have to then face the absolutely clueless director in the special features? Lord, grant me the strength to reach into my television and slap Michael Haneke. The German director has the gall to lecture about how his film gave me as a viewer several chances to sever my connection to the film, and my having completed it speaks ill of my character. He claimed his film was about the culpability of the audience in the production of violent films for their own sick entertainment. I say as a viewer I was nowhere near amused, am angered at having misplaced the benefit of the doubt, and that my wasted two hours of passive voyeurism are hardly as disturbed as his writing, casting, and filming of this abortion. After all, the audience really falls into two camps: those who "got" the joke in the first reel, and those getting off to the second and third. The former shouldn't be further injured by hoping for more than fodder for the latter.

The director claimed he made his film in response to suburbanite thrill-killers, and I say that his intention to guilt this potential audience is ill-considered. I try to be open-minded and give an artist a fair chance, but the type of individual the director seems intent on chastising has no moral compass to appreciate his work beyond the visceral and sardonic. The filmmaker thinks he's produced a Fight Club, but that's because his intentions and theoretical insights far outstrip his intellect, leaving us with a dullard stroking his ego to a horrific fantasy with no higher moral standing than "I Spit On Your Grave." Yes, he chose not to film probably the longest rape sequence in film history, but he also failed to offer closure while validating the travesty committed against his victims through the charisma and success of his predators. The film was being remade by the same director for a U.S. release, as I understand it, shot-for-shot. Twice to the well, and you dare point your finger at your audience? Who is the sick one here?

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