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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    ‘Games’ pokes fun at violence-hungry viewer

    Michael Pitt plays one of two disturbed young men who terrorize a family in Michael Hanekes remake of his own Funny Games.
    Michael Pitt plays one of two disturbed young men who terrorize a family in Michael Haneke’s remake of his own ‘Funny Games.’

    Director Michael Haneke wants to make you think. Hell, maybe even consider what a sick human being you really are.

    And so is the purpose of “”Funny Games,”” the latest by the Austrian writer/director, a remake (literally, almost scene by scene, line by line) of the original thriller released to Austrian audiences in 1997.

    The film follows an upper-class family as they arrive at their lakeside vacation home and settle in for the duration of their stay. While unpacking, Anne (Naomi Watts) is approached by a young man clad in white, claiming to need eggs for her neighbor. The debacle over acquiring eggs accelerates as another man in white, Paul (Michael Pitt), comes to the aid of his friend Peter (Brady Corbet) and the two claim to Anne’s husband George (Tim Roth) that her rude attitude is not to be appreciated. And then, violence ensues. Well, at least what the viewer can assume is violence, as the audience (one brief scene aside) never sees bloodshed or even punches thrown.

    “”Funny Games””
    Rated R – 107 mins.
    Celluloid Dreams
    Starring Naomi Watts, Tim Roth and Michael Pitt
    2 1/2 stars

    Paul and Peter lead the married couple and their young son into a devious arrangement: The two men bet all three family members would be dead by 9 a.m. the next morning, while the family would bet they remain alive.

    The emotional vs. unemotional acting keeps the film bearable – spotlighted by Watts’ composure ranging from tense to scared, hiding behind trees and nose-running, gut-wrenching sobs directed at the men’s disposal of her loved ones. Pitt also shines in another role to add to his dark repertoire as his rosy lips spout condescending and hateful words, and his wide-set eyes portray him as an innocent-gone-psychopath.

    Although Watts and Pitt excel in their roles, the theme of the film leaves much to be desired. In this character study disguised as an intelligent horror flick (as if that isn’t a conundrum in itself), does the audience really learn anything? Haneke does get the point across through a lack of violent scenes that we are generally a violence-craving society, as the viewer wants to see George beaten endlessly instead of Anne’s shocked face or Peter’s cringe-worthy smirks. But through awkward moments where Paul speaks directly into the camera at the audience, or an unexplainable scene where a remote control takes the film back in time, the point is weakened and seems futile when Haneke could have constructed a simple thriller to please audiences, not question the viewer’s movie-watching intentions.

    Although “”Funny Games”” does bring to question the violence fetish of today’s movie-watching society and boast two believable performances, the film’s overall composure toys with the audience and compromises the fluidity of its cruelly themed manner.

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