"I started out by calling Mr. Haneke a sadist, but it seems to me that he may be too naïve, too delicate, to merit that designation, which should be reserved only for the greatest filmmakers."
- A.O. Scott, reviewing Michael Haneke's remake of his 1998 film Funny Games
I'd hate to do this, but I already agree with A.O. Scott, and must link his Funny Games review. Have I seen Haneke's update? No, I've seen the original German version, and the new one is a shot-by-shot American version, the director's first film in English.
I'll do without. I was propelled, by a fascination with The Piano Teacher and Caché, to see another Haneke feature, Netflixed the original Funny Games (unaware, at the time, of its impending remake), and was thoroughly unhappy for a few days after watching it.
I don't care that that is partly his intention. I don't care that he's deconstructing 'our' predilection for or 'enjoyment' of violence. Nor am I impressed that he lets us know it's all only a movie.
If you want to see acting on a level you've rarely seen, rent the original version. I don't doubt that Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Michael Pitt and others give performances that are equally powerful, but I know all the twists and turns, and don't wish to return to Hell.
The horror we witness on the screen during your film is borne so realistically and painfully by your actors that it's most certainly hypocritical to deride us for the natural, primal attention we give it in return. But deride us you do. You mock us for wanting them to survive it all, as if you're taking us to task for rubber-necking.
Doddering, curmudgeonly, pomo nonsense like that cheapens both the humanity of your film's suffering actors and the accomplishment of their performances, which, in your original version are considerably brave ones.
Michael Haneke, you make Lars Von Trier look like Marc Forster.