Thursday, June 26, 2008

Funny How? Funny Like a Clown?


This is not so much of a review as it is an explanation. My review is, go rent it, it rocks.

Funny Games (2008) is nothing more then another bloody and brutal torture film, right? Wrong. Funny Games is the antithesis of such films. Instead, it is a criticism of such films and a criticism of America's fascination with watching people get tortured and murdered.

Throughout the entire movie, we are continually reminded, through characters talking to the audience and the rewind scene, that this is not reality, this is just a movie. We can pause, rewind, fast forward, or even entirely stop this family from being murdered. But we don't. We don't want to. We want to watch this, we want to see brutality. At one point Naomi Watt's character says "why don't you just kill us?" and Peter replies "you shouldn't forget the purpose of entertainment." A nod to the audience, it's only a movie. When Peter and Paul are placing the bet on the familys lives, Paul says, directly to us, "what do you think? you think they stand a chance? you're on their side arent you? Who are you betting on, hm?" Who's side are we on? Paul ungags Ann and says "it's boring when mutes suffer...we want to entertain our audience." He later says "do you think its enough? You want a real ending right, with plausible plot development, dont you?" Paul is constantly telling us that they are only doing these horrible things for our entertainment. Then you have the rewind scene. Which, if you missed the whole point of the movie as many did, will make zero sense to you and will seem quite ridiculous. Well, when we see somebody get blown away with a shotgun, what do we do? We do exactly what Paul did, we scramble for the remote, hit the rewind button, and watch it over again. But this time, the events change, the killer does not die, because that is not what we truly want. That would be end of movie, end of torture. We want it to continue. The most obvious nod to America's fascination with pain and violence towards others, is the long long shot of a bloody televsion, showing a Nascar race. Blood...Nascar....two of America's favorite pasttimes.

Everyone's been saying how boring and painful this movie is to watch. Well, in my opinion, that's kind of the point. Like I said, we pay to see a movie like this to watch this family get tortured right? Well, what the director did was show us how really long and painful and torturous such a thing is in reality. Theres no glamarous special effects shots. It's long drawn out and realistic..painfully so. When the family members are finally dispatched, we don't even see it. It's very nonchalant. People have been crticizing the movie for not being gory enough! How come we didnt see the family members get killed! That's just what we wanted isn't it? And we are proving the entire point of the film right there.

In the last conversation between Peter and Paul at the end of the film, Paul says "But isnt fiction real...well you can see it in a movie right...well, then its just as real as reality..cause you can see it too." In other words, if we love watching violence in fiction, what does that say about us in reality? Is it ok to enjoy and get off on just cause its fiction?

I believe the end of the movie, when Peter and Paul sail to another house to do this all over again to another family, is showing us how we, the audience, right after after we witness an act of violence, want to go right on to the next one. Pop the next torture film in, I haven't had my fix.

Now I know im not some genius breaking new ground here as the point of this film was fairly obvious, but I just wanted to give my 2 cents as it seems it went right over most peoples heads. Nor am I saying every point i've made is entirely what was intended, this is just one man's interpretation of a genius film. Also, yes I am obviously a huge fan of horror and of watching people get tortured and killed on the big screen. Sue me. America's fascination with violence is sick and I can certaintly appreciate someone showcasing their opinion of it in the form of a horror film, but make no mistake, i'm a fan of movie violence as much, if not more so, then the next guy. I do think it was brilliant that Michael Haneke decided to remake his own film shot for shot for an American audience. He's clearly passionate about getting his voice out there on this matter, and felt Americans need to see this film. And they do...but i'll never stop loving my violence. Guess i'm a hypocrite.


venoms5 said...

That's a fascinating analysis of the movie. I only just saw it a few months ago on cable and found it very engaging. The film carefully built its doom laden tone leading up to the actual capture, torture and death of the family. I had a similar thinking in regards to the film, but not as detailed as yours. I assumed the killers were toying with the audience just as they were toying with the lives of their captives.

The rewind scene, for me, was further toying (or torturing) with the audiences expectations as you would believe evil to suffer at some point, but that never comes to pass.

I thought that not seeing the family being butchered was far more powerful than seeing the act. Just hearing the action going on in the background was chilling enough. I've yet to see the original version from the same director.

gameshed said...

My opinion is, that this movie is really outstanding. How Michael Pitt is talking to the audience, and the rewind scene… I think people could see this scene as a fantasie of Ann, but it only my suggestion.

Anonymous said...

i'd recommend you see some of hanke's other films. he's obsessed with violence,and how it desensitizes people. the most amazing thing is that for a director who's subject matter is often sensational, he's a cold, austere almost kubrikian in his shots. little camera movement at all, and he loves toying with the editing to disrupt the audience's expectations. other than inside, this is one of the most cerebral horror movies ever made. he follows all of the horror conventions right down to hitchcock's menacing eagle's eye view of the family at the film's opening.

oh-- and one other thing-- the end of the film-- to me, isn't about them going on to another family, but rather, completing the loop. it could just as easily be about the family they killed before funny games started, so they are eternally killing, looping back to kill the family in the movie over, and over and over, in a filmic hell paying for our sin of needing to see torture.