08 November 2007

I do go on (and there's a SPOILER, okay?)

*In my institutional-observational documentarian voice*:

That’s not to say that there isn’t a sense of play amongst the British, though this type of humour (predicated on the mock-subversion of their strict conventional code, of course) seems mainly to take place between close friends or colleagues and serves to strengthen established relationships or engender a sense of belonging in newly formed alliances.

It’s charming, and it really highlights the fact that I’m, like, not fitting in. I am a horrible, anti-social recluse who can barely stand to be among friends!

Oh well.

(And cut. Check the gate, it’s a wrap.)

We’ve been watching a lot of Michael Haneke lately. You know - the guy who remade an American version of Funny Games? I know I said bad things about that film, and about Haneke in general, but once the hate wore off, I was left with a lingering sense of dread that could only be remedied by watching more Michael Haneke.

It’s an awfully persistent linger, so it’s a good thing we have five more films left in our Michael Haneke box set.

We finished The Seventh Continent a few days ago, and I have to say that even in the midst of the horror there is something compassionate about the eye that records it. You have to choke and nearly asphyxiate on the message before it finally softens enough to sink in.

In the Seventh Continent, a Viennese family goes through its rather depressing routines of breakfast, school/work, dinner and bed, resulting in long shots of silent car washes, scenes of tacitly insipid domesticity and an overall mood of futility.

Somewhere past the middle-mark, it dawns on viewers that the family (a husband, his wife and their nine-year-old daughter) mean to commit suicide. And while your brain may be screaming NO! at this revelation, there’s something terribly logical about it – something that makes you want to see it through with them.

So you do that, and then you’re left with the whys and wherefores and these horrible, almost beautiful images that have already burrowed in the mind’s eye.

The filmmaker seems to approach subjects in the same way a self-harmer approaches life - asking difficult questions about existence and painfully probing for answers that might possibly bring the fracturing of self (already exacerbated by the isolation and alienation of middle-class establishment) into sharp focus.

And I think his films toy with the notion that if convention ever ceased to be upheld, society – any society – would buckle beneath the unfamiliar weight of fiction.

We’ve tamed, shaped and internalised fiction to the extent that we can spy our little lives through its dark lens, though I think there still remains an unsettling uncertainty about our place in these real and imagined paradigms that encourages us to explore the source of discomfort again and again.

I think Kubrick could have learned a thing or two from Haneke. Maybe he did.

1 comment:

Watch the triangle said...

I think you should have used a *Spoiler Alert* but I agree with everything you said :-)