Funny Games ★★★★★

Well, the title does have multiple meanings — it’s mostly just a tongue-in-cheek reference to the endlessly disturbing mind games the two monstrous sociopaths play with our tortured family, but also... like... this is actually a fun game of a movie. Haneke is so clearly and antagonistically seeing what he can get away with, not necessarily with on-screen violence, but just narratively, too. Characters break through walls, we literally rewind the story, and everything is played at a grueling tempo, all meant to benefit the bad guys and only the bad guys. There is no hope whatsoever for these genuinely fine, good people that are being poked and prodded, and when hope seems barely within reach, Haneke dangles it in front of us, the audience, in the same way it’s dangled in front of the family, in the same way a carrot might be dangled in front of a horse to keep it moving, but to no avail. It’s not fun, but it totally is. As always, the thing that sticks out to me most with Haneke is the way he uses diegetic sounds in literally the best way, whether it be the droning of car racing on a TV in one of his longer, more emotional takes, or the silence that comes after the TV is turned off (again, there’s something about going from loud to silent that only increases the level of emotional intensity and fragility to that particular situation). Nondiegetic music is used to the greatest effect, too, slicing the tension of classical music with a knife forged from the loudest, whiniest grindcore ever heard with human ears. This is masterfully deconstructive on every level (and so is its remake, because they’re literally the same movie).

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