Michael Haneke is finally settling on his follow-up to the Palme d’Or winning The White Ribbon. Oddly, the film he’ll make is one he’d planned to make, then discarded in favor of another. The Austrian director had been planning to make Ces Deux, aka These Two, but scuttled the idea in February, deciding instead to make a film about the internet. Cue mild surprise and unease on our part.

But now Mr. Haneke is going back to these two, and he’s got at least two of the actors he’d originally planned to use: Isabelle Huppert, with whom he worked on The Piano Teacher and Time of the Wolf, and Jean-Louis Trintignant. Read More »

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It’s a day for discarded project news. First there was Nicolas Winding Refn moving away from Jekyll and The Dying of the Light in favor of Drive, and now we hear that Austrian director Michael Haneke is switching up the subject of his next film. Originally he’d planned to make a film about the humiliation of old age (sounds like prime pasture for Haneke) but will now make the Internet the subject of his follow up to the widely praised The White Ribbon. Read More »

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Ahead of the release of Michael Haneke‘s Palm D’or winning The White Ribbon this Friday in the UK and on December 30th in the US, we have the exclusive unveiling of a new online scene from the film to tempt you with. Thankfully, the digital encode here has gone a long way in preserving the astonishing shimmer of Christian Berger’s cinematography. You can check out the clip below the break.

Haneke’s film is set in a German village shortly before the outbreak of the first world war where a mysterious set of circumstances lead to ritual punishments that threaten to get completely out of hand. Indeed, Haneke has said his themes are the origins of all forms of terrorism “be it of political or religious nature”. As well as being a Cannes darling, this is the film Germany has put forward as their Best Picture contender for the Oscars next year.

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Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: I celebrate all levels of trailers and hopefully this column will satisfactorily give you a baseline of what beta wave I’m operating on, because what better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? Some of the best authors will tell you that writing a short story is a lot harder than writing a long one, that you have to weigh every sentence. What better medium to see how this theory plays itself out beyond that than with movie trailers?

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The White Ribbon International Movie Trailer

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I have a deep admiration for the films of Michael Haneke, but was still slightly surprised when his new film The White Ribbon won the top prize at Cannes this year. (Even with Isabelle Huppert, who’d previously found Cannes success via Haneke, as jury prez.) We’ve seen some clips from the film, and now that it is about to open in Germany, there’s a German-language trailer. You won’t get a lot of plot, but Christian Berger’s gorgeous cinematography is on full display. Read More »

Sundance Movie Review: Funny Games

Funny GamesFunny Games is not a movie I would wish upon anyone I care about. People complain about movies like Hostel and SAW, referring to them as Torture Porn, well then Funny Games is Psychological Torture Porn. And by that I mean boring, and stupid. Why anyone would remake this film I will never know. Director Michael Haneke remakes his film from 10 years prior, and from what I understand the new film is almost shot for shot the same. What’s the point? The story involves two psychotic young men who take a family hostage in their vacation home.

Funny Games would work better on the stage, than on the screen. The whole film is shot in wide master shots which sometimes last for over 5-minutes without a single cut. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not standing up for the MTV-style editing which has taken over today’s films. I just think that cinema should be cinematic. And there is nothing cinematic about Funny Games. Most of the violence happens off screen.

The two psychotic young men break through the fourth wall and talk to the audience. At one point, one of the hoodlums grabs a remote control and rewinds the movie to negate what had just happened. There are so many things wrong with this movie. Maybe I just don’t get it. Another critic tried to explain to me that Funny Games is a response to films like Hostel. That the two young mad men are taunting you, because you came to see blood, and they’re going to give it to you, but not how you expected. Im sure I just don’t get it. That has to be the explanation, right?

The story is lined with plot holes (beware of spoilers). For instance, they finally get the cell phone working and it conveniently runs out of batteries (someone should send an email to John August to explain why this is bad screenwriting). So the married couple are staying at this vacation house for at least a week, yet all she brought along was a car charger? Does she put the phone in the car at night to charge the phone? The husband gets through to 911 for a quick few seconds before being cut off, yet the police don’t show up at the house? And why the hell didn’t they try to escape in the boat? They have a freaking boat in the backyard, but the wife decides to run into the street where the f’n killers are likely to find her.

/Film Rating: 0 out of 10

Funny Games Movie Trailer

Funny Games

I must reluctantly admit that I have yet to see Funny Games, the home invasion horror/thriller from Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke. The film got some great reviews and was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival in 1997. Time Out described it as “a masterpiece that is at times barely watchable”.

Warner Independent hired Michael Haneke back to direct an American remake of the the film, starring Naomi Watts and Tim Roth as a wealthy couple who are trapped and tormented in their Hamptons vacation home by a pair of vicious psychopaths. Check out the trailer after the jump, and tell me what you think.

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