Dec 30, 2008

Funny Games (2008)

I usually get disgusted when I find out that a foreign director had decided to remake his own film so that illiterate Americans can watch a film without the difficulty of having to read subtitles. Usually the product is a cheap imitation of the director’s original work that loses most of its original artistic integrity. Michael Haneke’s remake of Funny Games is an exception to the rule. The 2008 version of Funny Games is a shot-for-shot remake of Haneke’s 1997 Austrian film. What makes the remake of Funny Games interesting is the new cast for the film.

Funny Games opens up with a cliché and stale upper middle class family driving on their way to what one can assume to be an outdoors vacation. This scene looks like some sort of car commercial to convince some bourgeois that to have the ideal life they need the ideal car. The family in the car looks content, clean, and without worry. The family lives a life that is ultimately contrived. Despite their happiness, something seems not quite right with the family. Finally, the title “Funny Games” appears on the screen and very deranged music plays. It becomes obvious that this family is about to have their ideal life taken off course.

Anyone that has seen the original Austrian version of Funny Games will obviously know what to expect with the remake. However, the acting performances in the remake were much more effective for me. Unlike a lot of people, I am not put off or offended by the German language. The fact that the original Funny Games was an Austrian (Uncle Adolf’s homeland) production and in German might scare some. I found the less aggressive American English accents to be more effective with Funny Games. What better killers than two young soft-spoken men such as Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet.

Pitt and Corbet were possibly the best choice as the two charming killers featured in Funny Games. I found the lead killer in the Austrian version of Funny Games to be a believable killer. He has a certain ugly look about him that made me believe that he could have been some type of guard at a Bolshevik Gulag. Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet, on the other hand, look like they should be teaching grade school children at some summer bible camp. The fact that these seemingly harmless and weak young men could easily play with and kill a sheltered bourgeois family can be very unsettling for most people. Michael Haneke demonstrates that in their soulless lives, the ideal “American” family doesn’t even have the ability to put up a fight against two weak and mild mannered young men.

With the Funny Games remake, Michael Haneke was able to do some fine tuning with a change of actors. Every fellow American I have talked with about Funny Games showed an irrational hatred of the film. Although they cannot articulate why they hate the film, they show their hatred by waving their fists and yelling obscenities. I feel that Funny Games is a good film for America and one that should be studied by the bourgeois. After all, Tyrone and Jose aren’t nearly as nice as Michael Pitt and Brady Cornet.

-Ty E


Anonymous said...

Happy New Year!
stay true to what you do~

thebonebreaker said...

While I don't wave my fists and yell obscenities reagarding the original, I disliked it enough not to bother with this re-make.

However, after reading this review, I just may have to give it a shot one day. . .

Nice Review TyE!

Phantom of Pulp said...

This is a harsh, candid film, and the poster art (with Watts in tears) is sublime.