Monday, February 4, 2008

Too Little Too Late

Sundance has been over for a week now. I went through this weird withdrawal/movie fatigue phase after it was all done. I was confused when I'd get up for the day, or after I'd get off work and there was no direction for me. I wasn't supposed to hop in my truck and drive to the mountains to see movies. I had nothing to do. Well that's how I felt anyway. I eventually found other things to do. I rediscovered 'Celebrity Rehab,' 'I Love New York' and various other VH1 productions. I did a little homework and I even started reading for pleasure.

I ended up seeing eight movies, all of varying degrees of quality. I think I've waited too long to write anything coherent about the films and I'm debating whether to even try.

First was Michael Haneke's remake 'Funny Games.' It was disturbing. Horrifying. The acting was brilliant. But I quickly remembered why the original had made such an impact on me: it's one giant slap in the face for seeking violence as entertainment. And as well made as it was, and as effective as it was as a social commentary, it's not a fun watch. The only disappointment I took with me as I left the theater is that the movie was a carbon copy of the Austrian version. The same shots, the same script, same soundtrack. I'm not sure what I was expecting. Maybe Haneke was completely satisified and felt no need to change. I guess I expected him to use the past ten years to some how build on his ideas or maybe I expected a change of opinion. Who knows? I've posted the trailer's at the end of this blog of both the Austrian and American versions. That terrifying, feral, howling song by John Zorn and Naked City that can be heard in the Austrian trailer is also heard in the American version. It's a shame they didn't use it in the trailer.

The truly disturbing element of the movie is how Haneke makes the viewer feel complicit with the 'bad guys' that terrorize the victim family. Although the majority of violence takes place off the screen, Haneke focuses the camera on the reactions of the nearby family members that are forced to watch which takes violences out of it's glamourous video game mode and turns on the humanity. What actually made me disgusted and angered in the film is this: at the points in the movie that are truly the most hopeless and sadistic, the parts that really make you feel deseperation, the audience surrounding me laughed. In one particular scene, immediately after the mother and father of the family watched their son murdered, the mom gets ready to go for help (the father was crippled by the villians). The father sobs uncontrollably and askes his wife to forgive him for not being able to protect 'his family. Heartbreaking, yeah? The other Sundancers thought this was hilarious. Haneke's point was that society has turned into this weird, soulless, entertainment whore that feeds off violence as entertainment and even worse, no one seems to feel that there's anything wrong with this. Towards the end of the film, the mother asked why the boys won't just kill them and end this, to which they answer: You mustn't forgot the importance of entertainment. In the Austrian version of the same scene, the boy answers, 'We haven't reached the length of a feature film yet!' Some may feel that this opinion is unjustified, but I was one hundred percent convinced that this is true as I saw people eating their Milk Duds and laughing at the torture and murder of an innocent family.

So, there are seven more, but I don't think I can invest the time, and I think it's probably boring to read about anyway. However, two other movies definitely deserve mention: Alan Ball's 'Towelhead,' and Clark Greg's 'Choke.' Both have been purchased, so I'm sure everyone will have the opportunities to see them. Be warned, they'll both probably have to have things cut out of them to keep an R rating.

Well, as bitchin' as this is, The Flavor of Love is on.

Oh, and New Kids on The Block are back together. They have a new album coming out.



2 comments:

Jessica said...

You didn't mention your poor tortured sister flinching through all of Funny Games. Also, Sundance is cool and all, but don't you think you should have led with NKOTB getting back together??

Magicman said...

My only thing is you still paid to see the movie didn't you? So in reality, its kind of contradictory for a commentary on how audiences revel in violence by requiring audiences to pay to see the movie. If the movie was made to make any profit whatsoever, its message is negated. But what do I know? I only saw one movie at Sundance.