At a time when even the most basic films feature once-impossible and now all but invisible digital effects and editing, it’s easy to look past the fact that the power of cinema lies in the simplest things: image and sound, and the way that two or three small elements can be combined to create a complex and very powerful effect.

One of the best moments in the trailer for Michael Haneke‘s new film Amour was a combination of an edit between two simple shots and an action in the latter shot. The edit cuts across time and through memory, and the action — a simple, mundane little thing — turns the construction into a montage that communicates deep, inescapable sadness.

Two clips of Amour are now online, and one highlights that moment. It’s one that should be studied by anyone interested in the construction of a film, because it is a lesson in pure cinematic storytelling delivered in one minute. If someone asked me what movies are, as a medium, I might point towards this clip.  Read More »

Over the weekend the top Cannes prize, the Palme d’Or, was awarded to Amour (Love), the latest film from Austrian director Michael Haneke. It’s Haneke’s second Palme d’Or in a stretch of two films; his movie The White Ribbon took the award in 2009. (Other films of his, Cache and The Piano Teacher, have been nominated for the prize, too.)

Today Sony Pictures Classics set a December 19 release date for the film. While that seems like a serious attempt to court Oscar votes, the serious end-of-life story will have an uphill battle come Oscar time. Still, Haneke’s films, somber though they may be, are often extremely powerful, and reviews of Amour out of Cannes were positive. Check out a great trailer below. Read More »

The primary lineup for the competition slate at the 2012 Cannes has been unveilend, and it is a very strong list of films. There are quite a few expected entries: David Cronenberg‘s Cosmopolis, Lee DanielsThe Paperboy, John Hillcoat‘s Lawless (formerly The Wettest County), and Andrew Dominik‘s Killing Them Softly (formerly Cogan’s Trade), and we already knew that Wes Anderson‘s Moonrise Kingdom would open the festival.

But the international lineup is even more exciting, with films such as Rust & Bone from Jacques Audiard, Amour from Micheal Haneke, The Hunt from Thomas Vinterberg, and Mekong Hotel from 2010 Palme d’Or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul. As is occasionally the case with Cannes, this year’s lineup features many returning Cannes award winners; it’s a world-class program.

The downside to all of that is that Paul Thomas Anderson‘s The Master and Terrence Malick‘s as-yet untitled romance starring Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams and Javier Bardem didn’t show up in the list. There is some time for them to be added to the festival lineup in some measure, but (as expected) we’ll likely have to wait until this fall for The Master. As for the Malick movie… well, it’s Malick, so who knows?

You’ll find the lineup as it has been announced so far after the break. Read More »

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 »


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 »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

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.

Read More »


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?

Read More »

The White Ribbon International Movie Trailer


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.

Read More »