THERE’S SOMEONE AT THE DOOR (A REVIEW OF FUNNY GAMES)

(BY ALI NADERZAD) Director Michael Haneke’s Funny Games starring Tim Roth, Naomi Watts and Michael Pitt was released this Friday. Have you seen it? If not, and especially if you did not see the first Funny Games (1997) by the same director, then you ought to. It’s suspenseful and there’s even a certain brilliance in it, but be prepared for unchecked wickedness. A upper middle-class family of three (played by Watts, Roth and young Devon Gearhart) are sojourning at their vacation home. Peter (Brady Corbet) and Paul (Pitt) are guests at a neighboring house and soon enjoy the family’s company. But, the party turns sour. The boys, wearing white gloves, have a propensity for violence and turn on the family members an experiment in Kubrickian ruckus. With this second unprovoked installment of Funny Games Michael Haneke again indulges his preoccupation with unusual aspects of bourgeois life: secrets, pretenses and self-destructiveness. The original Funny Games, which starred Uhlrich Mühe (The Lives of Others) was a smash hit but unsettled many with its graphic depictions of savagery. Why Haneke wants to repeat the same film he did ten years ago remains a mystery. Oh, the white gloves. Why do Peter and Paul wear gloves? It’s a little strange, gimmicky even, but then these boys who unleash a torrent of brutalities upon this hapless family don’t seem real, not any more so than our Alex Delarge and his droogs. They are archetypes through whom Haneke allows us a look into the slimy belly of the beast. Watch these boys closely, you’ve probably seen or heard about them in the papers recently.

This new Funny Games is quite suspenseful, a thriller that, while not as original as its German-language counterpart has the advantage of a memorable cast. Pitt, especially, has a particular penchant for his character. He plays Paul with such gusto that he will leave you breathless. Pitt’s cachet has been rising steadily this past year–Funny Games means he can add another feather in his cap.

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