The Bayley Film Club: Michael Haneke

WEEK 2

Director: Michael Haneke

Film 1: Caché

Film 2: Funny Games (1997)

What follows are the reviews starting with film 1.

 

Caché

Author: Agsy E Drapinska

Anticipation: 3
Enjoyment: 1
Retrospect: 4

Score: 8

Mr. Haneke is famous for creating films that are of a rather disturbing matter. His films seek to make the audience question their beliefs. ‘Caché’ focuses on how we take our privacy for granted, about secrets and finally about hidden but wildly nurtured scars from the past. ‘Caché’ means exactly that – hidden. 

The story develops slowly as the atmosphere becomes darker. While the approach is minimalistic, it captures that itchy part of the mind, where a creepy voice whispers: ‘you are being watched…’.

What is ‘Hidden’ then? Is it the camera used for filming the entrance of the main character’s house which location is never revealed or the identity of the person filming it? We do not get a clear answer two any of these questions which isn’t really relevant nor it is important – what matters is the feeling it creates inside of the viewer’s head. In my view, it is the motives of people involved that are hidden. Ultimately ‘Caché’ illustrates the irrational behaviors that occur when our normal lives are disrupted.

 

Caché

Author: N A Tonge

Anticipation: 3
Enjoyment: 4
Retrospect: 5

Score: 12

Caché’ was the first experience of the world according to Michael Haneke and it was very quickly made clear that he isn’t much a fan of bourgeois life. In fact, he is rather fond of outright punishing those lucky enough to live in that world – maybe even you!

‘Caché’ focuses on the break down of a middle-class Parisian family, following the delivery of tape, which includes an eerie recording of the front of their home. The tapes keep coming, with the contents becoming increasingly personal in respect of the past relating to the father of the family, Georges.

The tapes, which include a recorded car journey to the large family farmhouse that Georges grew up on, contribute towards the uncomfortable feeling that Georges is hiding something. Georges struggles with this guilt. He argues with his wife, who is having an affair with her boss. He becomes ill, and he is no longer able to enjoy the company at his dinner party, in his dining room –  a shrine to his profession. Georgie boy’s guilt is getting the best of him, and Michael’s making him squirm.

As is happens, George pulled a dick move on Majid, the son of an Algerian couple, who used worked for his parents before becoming victims of the French Police during the Paris Massacre of 1961. All signs point to this mysterious Majid, shown through flashbacks to Georges’ childhood, of making the tapes.

Whilst Georges waits for his unfaithful wife to return home and contemplates if and how to confront Majid, news plays in the background on Georges widescreen television, which displays images of the Iraq conflict, a nod maybe to the bigger picture of West / Muslim tensions that George feels so guilty for in some part contributing towards.

George survives this one, but George is a clown, and actually, I rather enjoyed his punishment. In fact, as reflected in my retrospect score, I could watch it again.

 

Funny Games

Author: Agsy E Drapinska

Anticipation: 5
Enjoyment: 1
Retrospect: 2

Score: 8

After Michael Haneke was drawn from the bowl, I began my research to select a film – ‘Funny Games’ was the one that caught my eye. I had already learned by then that his films can be difficult and uncomfortable to watch, and this one was no different. A third of the audience left in the middle of it’s Cannes premiere in 1997. How often do you think that happens? Well, that didn’t stop the director from filming a remake ten years later.

When you watch ‘Funny Games’ you can’t avoid feeling the following: shock, disbelief, disappointment, pitty, disgust, but also hope. That is why I have not particularly enjoyed watching it, and sure as hell, I do not want to see it again (or the remake!). But don’t get me wrong – the film does not contain any actual scenes of brutality – everything is implied which forces YOU to participate whether you like it or not. By connecting those dots, which sometimes are just subtle hints left for you by the director, you have become a part of the story. You are dragged into the game further when addressed directly by Paul (one of the key disruptors) making you in some way responsible for what’s happening. Using this trick, Michael Haneke raises one of the typical sociopathic behaviors – avoiding responsibility – as a subject in cinematography and takes it not just a step further, but a mile.

‘Funny Games’ sticks with you. I have been thinking about dimensions, symbolism and implications of it in the days that followed. These are the headlines from my mind: 

‘Sociopaths – what are they after?’
‘Addiction to comfort – our deserved luxury or today’s society biggest flaw?’
‘Fragility of the human spirit’
‘Bias to truthfulness – psychologists share latest discoveries in the field of Forensic Psychology’
‘Why most people will never be good at intensions recognition?’
‘How far would you go to save your life?’

Funny Games

Author: N A Tonge

Anticipation: 1
Enjoyment: 2
Retrospect: 3

Score: 6

Not a film reflected by the warmest of sentiment – it got a 5 for anticipation from me. Nevertheless, whilst I enjoyed the film encouraging the audience to be active in trying to second guess what game Peter and Paul wanted to play next, ultimately I got bored – a 3 in retrospect, but that’s just because of Paul’s quips.

Michael Haneke’s pleasure in disrupting bourgeois comfortabilities is explicit in this one. I think I’m supposed to be outraged, but I’m not.


 

This week is all about Michael Haneke, this was a tough one I admit, not for those of you who consider themselves the sensitive type, I think. and next week? Just wait and see when we post the lottery for week 3 on Instagram! Stay tuned!

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