21 October 2007

Why don't you just kill us

It’s six o’clock and dark already – the kids still laughing in the chilly autumn air, crows awake and doing their thing, fireworks exploding at various intervals to celebrate the impending Guy Fawkes Day. People here don’t really ‘do’ Halloween and I keep forgetting to organise a party.

We had lunch at the White Hart pub in Waterloo – proper roast dinners that last well into an evening, which I guess it is now. I’m laid up in bed feeling sniffly and sore-throaty and a bit spent despite my continued resolve to avoid alcohol.

Last night we went to see the premiere of Michael Haneke’s remake of Funny Games (aka Funny Games U.S.) which was anything but. The night started off with promise – seeing Ang Lee on the red carpet and then trying to fool paparazzi into thinking I was someone (one nearly lifted his camera and then laughed).

Then Jennifer knowingly lured me into a restricted area above the screens, this fact only dawning on me when I turned to see Naomi Watts bringing up the rear. By then it was too late and some ditzy American PA was telling us off and so back down the stairs we went to get a regular coke at the regular concession stand for regular people. Bah. Naomi Watts was enchanting though, and impossibly tiny.

Michael Pitt was there as well and tipsy producers made their smug introductions before the cast skulked off the stage and the movie began.

I came knowing very little about the film, though Bruce said the Austrian version was about a wealthy couple who get abducted in their summer home and tormented. I wish I’d known a bit more about what to expect because it’s not a film I’m glad I sat through in any respect.

Without giving too much away, I think the introduction encapsulates the experience pretty well. Naomi Watts and Tim Roth are in their Mercedes, sail boat in tow, ten year old son in the back seat, and they are playing a musical guessing game.

Don’t look, now! George, did Daddy look? No mom. Are you sure? It’s Handel. Yes, but which overture?

Then a medium shot of the threesome in full holiday mode: skin dewy and a bit red, they are carefree; joking, smiling and chatting happily while Handel tinkles away.

It’s jarring when the death metal – heavy, empty, poisoned with sickening peals of laughter – replaces Handel at a gruesome decibel and the title appears superimposed over their holiday faces in an angry red font:

Funny Games U.S.

I was so incensed after the film and practically in tears. I’d never encountered anything so vicious. I felt profoundly violated and wanted to take out everything on my aggressor – that arrogant, flippant director who regards his audience with such blatant disdain.

But I thought about it and thought some more and by morning, after very little sleep, I could at least conclude that this filmic assault was likely aimed at the kind of people who typically enjoy a bit of violence with their fantasy. So, nothing personal I guess.

I suppose if you’re going to stumble into the most controversial film of the year, it might as well be at its London Premiere. And there’s really so much to say about it, though I’m not sure it warrants the effort.

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