“If you have the slightest awareness of the current film industry, you likely know that the Academy Award nominations were announced today. I save my full thoughts for a later post, but in short, most if it was pretty predictable. I will join the general outrage over Christopher Nolan’s directorial snub for Inception. That’s the only one that’s got me upset. Nothing’s got me particularly excited, but only because most of what may have excited me a month ago (Christian Bale, James Franco, etc) was kinda expected by this point.
While looking over my list for the past few days, I was _really_ excited to watch this one. Definitely moreso than the film on the 86th spot. That probably means I should have swapped them, but I justified my impatience by saying that technicall 86 (to be revealed later) is the better quality film. Not that I judge on quality. I judge on preference, which is to say entertainment and enjoyability, but dammit I wanted my \m/ up movie fix now!
First, lemme suggest you check out my previous write up on the film. I went into pretty good detail into the cast and direction and such, and there’s some fun clips linked. (Damn, further review shows two of the three clips have been un-YouTube-d)
One thing that I love about being so on top of the movie scene is being able to recommend films. I always jump at the chance to suggest Funny Games. However, those chances are rather few and far between. The reason being that this really is one seriously \m/ up film. Believe me when I say that. It takes a lot to get me uncomfortable and squirmy and this film certainly accomplished that.
Before I continue on that train of thought, there is something I need to make absolutely clear. While this film may have been released during the rise of the torture porn subgenre (ie Saw, Hostel), it isnt. Now you know I rarely give my opinions with any sorta authority. There’s always some sorta justification or something. So know how serious I am when I decidedly say again, this isnt torture porn. The premise may sound like it: (from IMDB) Two psychopathic young men take a family hostage in their cabin, but I assure you it doesnt count. The reason I say that is that torture porn got its name because people would get off (figuratively) to the blood, guts, and gore. As the trend continued, the films got gorier while their plots got thinner. In Funny Games, all of the violence happens off screen, which is so much more effective. I suppose you could still argue that it qualifies as torture porn because the carnage is then imagined, but I say the fact you dont see it (and that thinking is required) discounts it in my opinion.
The director, Michael Haneke, is brilliant at playing up the suspense. A lot of times when you have a frightening flick that builds up the creepy, the build is slow and kinda yawn inducing. Yes, the lack of action sorta builds the suspense, but a lot of times it just goes dull. Haneke takes a different approach. The build is AWKWARD. That just adds to the uncomfortable (yet somehow thrilling) disgust you feel watching.
Aw man, how much Im enthusiastically writing about this one has me wondering if maybe it shoulda ended up higher on the list. Im actually pausing the movie when I need to get up and go to the kitchen for 30 seconds. I typically only do that with things I’m watching for the first time, and even then, only if I know Ill be a few minutes.
I think what I find most brilliant about Funny Games, is that not only does it nail that I-feel-icky-inside type of horror subgenre, it makes a statement about it as well. Michael Pitt, playing the more cunning and crafty leader of the demented duo, breaks the fourth wall multiple times. Its as if he’s telling the audience he’s not alone in his insanity. On some level, we’re enjoying it with him, fuelling him to keep going. Whoa.
But yes, Pitt is absolutely brilliant. The film wouldnt have worked without him, and he is def my favorite element of the whole damn thing.
I also love some of the smaller sadistic surprises. The specific example Im thinking of happens just minutes into the film. The family is driving along happily, listening to opera music. Then the soundtrack changes to screaming thrashing death metal, playing over their smiling revelery. On top of that, you’ve got stark red opening credits. Such a disjointed image, and so telling of what’s coming. That music shows up a couple more times.
Is it wrong how much I enjoy this one?”