Posts Tagged ‘Michael Haneke’

Antichrist: Vu de l’extérieur

January 14, 2010

It says something about the extraordinary Antichrist that the first time Squally saw it, the film felt like a comedy. The second time, it felt like a tragedy. The movie was greeted with jeers at Cannes, which writer/director Lars von Trier brushed off with the proclamation, “I am the world’s greatest filmmaker.”

The critics were trying to take Antichrist too seriously. In dealing with the disintegration of a woman, after all, Von Trier was walking on hallowed ground. The cracked woman is a favorite trope of (male) directors, whether it’s Marnie or Rebecca, Catherine Deneuve in Roman Polanski’s Repulsion, Monica Vitti in Michelangelo Antonioni’s Red Desert, any number of women in Bergman’s films, Gena Rowlands in John Cassavetes’s A Woman Under the Influence, Julianne Moore in Todd Haynes’s Safe, or especially Isabelle Huppert in The Piano Teacher, by von Trier’s bete noire, Michael Haneke. Squally could go on, but let’s just say that it’s one of the greatest clichés of the art house cinema: a beautiful woman goes to pieces, the beautiful actress who plays her is acclaimed for the performance.

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A Serious Man: But Seriously …

December 15, 2009

A Serious Man is not a nice movie. Like both No Country for Old Men or Burn After Reading, it’s a film where the pieces don’t quite add up. You could compare it to Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon, except the Coen Brothers are less interested in sifting through history than grappling with the eternal mysteries. Man depicts a kind of war against God, a war which is always going to be one-sided. As the protagonist Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) puts it at one point, why does God give man so many questions if He’s not going to provide any answers?

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Trailerama: The White Ribbon

November 16, 2009

“Did you ever wonder who mistreated Karli?” Michael Haneke dips pre-war Germany in a B&W acid bath for his latest sermon/Palme-winner. Doesn’t look like we’ll get an videotape shenanigans, but to compensate there are some electrifiying following shots and a country dance. Those are always good things.

Trailerama: Extract (Mike Judge, 2009)

April 10, 2009

It’s always worth reminding yourself that Hollywood is a bloodier arena than the Roman senate on the Ides of March. Mike Judge learned this when he made Idiocracy. No film has come close to its skin-crawling vision of the future. Luke Wilson falls asleep for 500 years and wakes up in a world drowning in stupidity. Garbage assumes natural formations, energy drinks have replaced water, Starbucks is a brothel chain, and a pro-wrestler/porn star has become president. It’s American as apple pie and bleak as Haneke‘s Time of the Wolf.

20th Century Fox rewarded this unique vision by not screening the film for critics and releasing it into less theatres than Midnight Meat Train. Opinion was divided as to whether there was too much diss in the dystopia or whether Judge went too far in offending corporations with business ties to News International. Idiocracy didn’t fare much better than the Beavis & Butthead creator’s live action feature debut Office Space. So we can expect him to tread lightly for his latest film Extract, right?

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