Media Blog

NY Times Movie Picks for the Weekend

From their positive review of “Funny Games”, who would want to see this?

Michael Haneke, an Austrian auteur who has worked for many years in France, has always been more interested in punishing his audience than in entertaining it. His scrupulously constructed, skillfully made films, many of which have won prizes at leading international festivals, are excruciatingly suspenseful and also, more often than not, clammy and repellent.
It is likely that Mr. Haneke would take the last two adjectives as praise — it’s fine with me if they show up in advertisements — or at least as the acknowledgment of fulfilled intentions. His is an especially pure and perverse kind of cinematic sadism, the kind that seeks to stop us from taking pleasure in our own masochism. We will endure the pain he inflicts for our own good, and feel bad about it in the bargain.
“Funny Games,” Mr. Haneke’s first English-language film — and a compulsively faithful replica of his notorious 1997 German-language feature of the same title — subjects its viewers to a long spectacle of wanton and gratuitous brutality. So, of course, do countless other movies, though few of them can claim this one’s artistic pedigree or aesthetic prestige. And indeed, the conceit of “Funny Games” is that it offers a harsh, exacting critique of vulgar, violent amusements, a kind of homeopathic treatment for a public numbed and besotted by the casual consumption of images of suffering. That the new version takes place in America is part of the point, since Americans — to a European intellectual this almost goes without saying — are especially deserving of the kind of moral correction Mr. Haneke takes it upon himself to mete out.
Our problem is that we think violence is fun.  Well, the fun stops here, people.

Since it’s a remake scene for scene from the original, you can read the spoiler here and save your money.
And here’s the somewhat negative review of “Horton Hears a Who.”
It’s an interesting pairing, since we’re told from the first review that Americans love violence, let’s see, via the magic of box-office numbers, which genre of movies Americans really want to see this weekend.  I trust more Americans want to watch a talking elephant than be “punished” by an Austrian filmmaker.

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