FUNNY GAMES

Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games” (U.S.) is an unsettling stylistic exercise, a darkly funny social commentary, an existentialist nightmare (of sorts), and a bleak, nihilistic vision of the encroachment of evil on ordinary, everyday affluence. In short, a frightening and wickedly pointed tale of voyeurism designed to shock and sicken, implicate and accuse, and ultimately alienate whilst causing serious debate and discussion.

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<br/><br />This gorgeously pretentious morsel comes from writer-director Haneke via English-speaking actors such as Michael Pitt (brilliant as Paul, or was it Jerry?), Tim Roth as the assaulted and ineffectual husband George Sr., and Naomi Watts as Ann, the traumatized housewife who first invites pure evil into the home (as personified here by Pitt and Mysterious Skin’s Brady Corbet).

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<br/><br />Haneke has created basically a shot by shot remake of the original 1997 German version, this time in English and with better actors, yet I’m surprised to find this one with a slightly more obvious (if sick) sense of humor (though you’ll be hard-pressed to utter a chuckle too often here), and also more of a clear perspective on what violence as entertainment really is like (and how we as audience members drink it up without thinking of the consequences). Some pointed dialogue toward the end of the film seems to have been added in (I think) about one of the psychotics’ heroes, a fictional character whose family was in “reality” and who himself ended up in a fictional alternate universe. The suggestion is made that… well — see for yourselves!

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