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Has anyone heard of a movie called Funny Games?

Posted: Wed May 30, 2001 4:07 am
by Latte Thunder
I was reading through an issue of Stuff recently when I came upon an article of 50 "forgotten" movies (which included Dawn of the Dead and Evil Dead 2. Forgotten?). One of the movies mentioned was this one called Funny Games which is supposed to be some kind of study of violence. Two guys terrorize and torture a family in their home and it's all pretty extreme from what I understand.

If it's any good, I want to try and track it down.

Posted: Wed May 30, 2001 9:05 am
by Griff [Mola]
Hey Latte, I have the Fox Lorber R1 DVD of FUNNY GAMES and that's because I think its, well, swell. Alot of people think that director Michael Haneke's flick is pretentious and its true that he has no particular affinity for the genre but I don't think that that's a necessarily a pre-requisite to making an effective genre flick. He makes quite a few interesting observations about violence in film but be warned as he occassionaly uses devices that disrupt your suspension of disbelief to illustrate them.

Alternatively, you can just appreciate the flick as a hostage/home-invasion movie and I'm sure you'll enjoy the clever set-up and execution. There's a few tough moments of human suffering you'll eagerly endure and the ending is appropriately true to the nature of the film.

By all means, check it out, but there is the possibility that as a horror fan, you'll be offended by what its got to say. I wasn't.

Posted: Wed May 30, 2001 9:07 am
by Griff [Mola]
I should add that its German and was made in 1998 incase you didn't know.

Posted: Wed May 30, 2001 2:52 pm
by Mike B
Yeah, a lot of folks don't seem to like this film, but I thought it was quite good.

Sure, I suppose you could make a case for it being a little pretentious, but I think it makes the points it sets out to make fairly well, and it's intense to boot.

There is one scene where he sort of breaks the rules big time (aside from his lead characters continually breaking down the fourth wall and talking to the audience), but it works well enough, I think.

Definitely a film worth checking out--seems to me you'll either love it or hate it.

Mike B.

Posted: Wed May 30, 2001 4:03 pm
by Jon
Put me down as one of the people who didn't like it. I personally think the filmmakers have got their heads lodged well and truly up their own rectums. However, I still recommend that you see it. Love it or hate it, this film will definitely get a response from you and hang around with you for a while after watching it. That's an all too rare occurance these days.

Posted: Wed May 30, 2001 6:15 pm
by Mike B

Any particular reason you didn't like it? I've heard people say they didn't like it, but I've never really heard why.

Just curious.

Mike B.

Posted: Wed May 30, 2001 11:09 pm
by Jon
I felt that the filmmakers were basically saying that if you liked to watch violent films then you condoned violent/cruel behaviour in real life, and that you lacked compassion and sympathy, or at the very least that you should feel guilty for being a fan of violent movies. Same theme that occurs in an earlier film by the same guy called BENNY'S VIDEO. Not a theory that I agree with.

[This message has been edited by Jon (edited 05-31-2001).]

Posted: Thu May 31, 2001 1:33 am
by Griff [Mola]
I didn't take it as personal as Jon did, neither did I think that FUNNY GAMES made a comment about my behaviour in REAL LIFE (although I haven't seen BENNY'S VIDEO) but its definitely pointing a finger at its audience. What it seems to be suggesting to me is that all this onscreen human suffering (be it in horror films, action films, dramas, whatever...) isn't solely due to the story teller but is also a shared responsibility with the viewer.

After all, when you rent your conventional home invasion or rape & revenge exploitationer, you're expecting firstly for the victim character to suffer a demeaning and prolonged violation. Then, if all goes to plan, they turn the table on their persecutors and give even better than they got. So much pain and all for our benefit.

I think that FUNNY GAMES gets its strength from the notion that (in some crazy roundabout way) we're the one's provoking these terrors but rather than pandering to the formula, its sticks the knife in, turns it and offers little relief.

Think about those dudes who go rent a movie like I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE or HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK and once it gets too intense, they get all hoitey-toity on the filmmaker's arse. Well, fuck, they got what they asked for, didn't they?! Its not, let's say, Ruggero Deodato's fault that you wanted to be able to enjoy all this deprivation in guilt-free comfort. Let's face it, if you rent a movie to watch some chick get raped, people get shot and/or for true love to pass someone by, then maybe you deserve a bit of shaking up you sick fuck...

Ha ha, I dunno. I think its an interesting theory and offers a unique way of looking at things with a perspective I hadn't really considered until I saw FUNNY GAMES. Its like its saying 'OK, we're gonna give you what you want but there's a catch: we're not gonna make it pleasurable for you and ultimately you've got no one to blame but yourself'.

Now, I'd like this applied to a romantic comedy that starts off with the young couple hopelessly in love and progresses without so much as a hiccup in the relationship, thereby denying the audience of the anticpipated 'break-up, make-up' pay off. That's it, take the romance and poor it down their throats until they gag. It is, after all, what they paid for.

[This message has been edited by Griff [Mola] (edited 05-31-2001).]

Posted: Thu May 31, 2001 9:46 am
by Mike B
Thanks for the interesting responses.

Jon, do you feel the same way about Pasolini's Salo (if you've seen it)? I've always thought that both films were making sort of the same statement (that by watching the atrocities committed onscreen, you're as guilty as the men committing the atrocities).

Mike B.

Posted: Thu May 31, 2001 9:55 am
by Latte Thunder
to say that by watching the violence on screen and somehow being guilty of that same violence in reality is pretty delusional and brings up some interesting questions.

By saying we are guilty of contributing to violence by watching fake violence on screen we would have to assume that the person making that statement can't delineate between reality and fantasy. I'm pretty sure that all of us here are fairly sure that what we are watching in the movies that we do is fake. It's all just a movie and nothing more. We know that violence of any kind is morally wrong. In order to make the statement that this film maker is, we would have to be watching this stuff and seeing nothing wrong with it.

Does that make sense?

Posted: Thu May 31, 2001 4:30 pm
by Jon
BENNY’S VIDEO is about a youngster who decides to make his own snuff movie. Griff, it has played on SBS a couple of times so it may show up again.

OK, I perhaps have taken it a little too personally, but if the makers of FUNNY GAMES are saying “we’re gonna give you what you want but…we’re not gonna make it pleasurable for you”, then I find that to be pretty condescending. It makes assumptions about why people watch certain kinds of movies. Sure, I’ll admit there are certain storyline elements that will attract me to one film over another but I don’t think I watch them because of catharsis or to live life vicariously. Do you really rent a movie just to watch someone get shot or see someone raped?

Mike – yes I’ve seen SALO, and I don’t quite feel the same way about it. While the guilt by association is evident, the film isn’t strictly about violence as entertainment but rather about inability to unite against forces of oppression, so I think the technique is serving a different purpose.

Posted: Thu May 31, 2001 10:16 pm
by Griff [Mola]
I don't place an association at all between screen violence and the real stuff and that's not the impression I got from FUNNY GAMES although, granted, that could have been Haneke's intention. If so, Haneke sucks but I like this flick. I don't feel I have to agree with a movie's creed to admire its virtues. I think we lot tend to reserve that sort of thinking for the likes of those who criticize horror movie enthusiasts.

I was trying to say that by watching certain types of films, we the audience are in some way possibly deciding the fate of the characters more so than the characters
themselves ...if you get what I'm blathering about. FUNNY GAMES seems to illustrate this by having its two antagonists acknowledging the camera and occasionally addressing the audience as they brutalize the family for our benefit. This is, after all, what we expected. The neat thing is that they take it to that level, my threshold anyway, and then a little bit further. That's usually the point when I start squirming, which ain't often. And I'm thankful for movies like that and AUDITION which remind me that despite my extreme viewing habits, I'm still vunerable.

Do I watch movies to see people shot, raped or otherwise? Not specifically and ideally, I'd like to say an adamant 'no' but when I whack on a movie like CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, I must admit, I'm there for some no-holds-barred gut munching (animal snuff, however, is another topic entirely). And let's say it gets a little too much for me, that I think Deodato goes just that little bit too far, are the filmmakers at fault or am I? Do I have the right to call them irresponsible? Am I just pissed off because the (remote) control is out of my hands? I think this question is the essence behind FUNNY GAMES.

Perhaps FUNNY GAMES is condescending to its audience but I don't think its drawing parallels between fantasy and reality. To suggest such a thing is irresponsible
and I can understand why people who interpret this as its meaning resent the film. They may be right.

Its a funny thing. We all think we are smarter than films, that we know where they're going but when one comes along that thinks its smarter than us, we shoot it
down (SCREAM, anyone?). Not that we're wrong to do so but its a reaction worth thinking about. I think where FUNNY GAMES alienates its audience is by rather than merely outsmarting its audience, it basically tells the audience that its gonna do it. That, I freely admit, is downright cheeky. But shit, I also find it funny because after all, maybe we self-righteous armchair critics deserve it.

I'll definitely check out BENNY'S VIDEO next time its on, Jon, and tell you what I think!

Posted: Fri Jun 01, 2001 5:42 pm
by Jon
Well let's just say that FUNNY GAMES is back on my list of films to revisit. I've only seen it once when it first hit video (about 3 years ago) so in light of this discussion I think I better give it another go. Haneke seems to have made quite a few flicks looking at the issues of cinema/media portrayal of violence, I'll keep my eyes peeled for screenings of them on SBS.

Posted: Fri Jun 01, 2001 9:00 pm
by Mike B

Good point about Salo--I think you're right on that one, and I'm embarrassed that the thought hadn't occurred to me before I posed the question.

Let us know what you think after catching this one again. I'm still in the 'like it' camp, but I can see things that could lead someone to dislike it.


Great post man--I think you make some really excellent points.

Didn't Haneke's latest just win something at Cannes?

Mike B.

Posted: Sat Jun 02, 2001 10:01 pm
by Griff [Mola]
Thanks Mike but I owe everything to the deadly concoction of Zyban, alcohol and various other stimulants/depresants which have made me go a bit loopy (eg. attempting to urinate in my housemate's wardrobe, repeatedly) these past few days.

From now on I'll stick to one-sentence posts, fellas. Cheers.

Posted: Sun Jun 03, 2001 3:35 pm
by Jon
Haneke's latest film, LA PIANISTE, did receive awards for best actor, actress and director at Cannes this year so it might show up at your nearest foreign/arthouse cinema sometime soon.

Posted: Sun Aug 19, 2001 7:34 am
by DylanDog
Ha ha ha, good one guys. You got me! This whole thread was an elaborate hoax to get me to waste an hour and 40 minutes of my life and $2.00 of my money, right? Right? Quick, name a movie more boring than this one! Can't do it, can ya?

Man, the eternity the camera lingered on the mother as she sat in front of the tv crying....that was great! And the scene where they hair-dried the telephone....riveting! I couldn't turn away! Ha ha, obviously I'm being sarcastic. Seriously, this movie was awful. A movie like this really needs to have tension more than anything else-not violence, gore or sex, but tension, and it was noticeably absent here. Or maybe I just don't find Pete Sampras to be a frightful villain. Whatever it was, this movie really disappointed me.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go watch a REAL movie about a family being terrorized-you guessed it, Luther the Geek!

"In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet and say to us, 'Make us your slaves, but feed us.'" (Dosteovsky's Grand Inquisitor.)