Friday, May 18, 2012
Everything invariably leads back to it...
Even if I keep digging myself into holes, I'm absolutely relishing this back-and-forth because its taking place entirely on the blogs. It's GREAT to get some discussion going back on here.
I knew you or someone would come back at me exposing all the formulaic films I love or choose to overlook. It was bound to happen. Admittedly, I'll probably never be consistent when it comes to formula. It doesn't bother me in certain cases depending on how well executed the film is. DRIVE is a great example, for sure, of a film that I love regardless of its formulaic plot structure. Like you said, I love it because of its unique execution not its cliches. HOSTEL PART 1 and 2 are two films that I couldn't see past the formula with. They didn't do anything for me as films, so all I could see was that big, fat cliched structure staring me in the face. SHAME did the same thing for me. It was formulaic and empty and I didn't like it at all. And I'm not just trying to single out the horror genre for formula I can't get behind. There's formula in THE OTHERS, THE STRANGERS, 28 DAYS LATER, CABIN FEVER, THE CABIN IN THE WOODS etc. and I like all of them. Again the formula only stands out as something egregious to me when I think that the film is genuinely bad. You're right, there's formula in just about everything and there has been for thousands of years. I don't hate formula; I just hate it when it's the only thing there to grab a hold of. Does that make sense? I'll easily forgive formula when there's other stuff to dig.
The dead horse is back! It was only a matter of time.
Alas, FUNNY GAMES, you and I will probably never see eye to eye on because I've completely rejected Haneke's intentions with the film. Everything you said about the film, in terms of how Haneke wanted it presented, is 100% spot on. However, I don't care about how he wanted it presented and what he wanted to say about violence in the media with it. I saw it without knowing about any of this, so I choose to interpret it in my own way.
So, to be clear, I don't think FUNNY GAMES mocks horror film lovers (I'm sure Haneke intended as much, but fuck him); as it stands, I think it can reward horror film lovers. I think it mocks people who can't handle horror films, who can't separate themselves emotionally from what they are seeing, and who find themselves needing comfort from a film. For anyone who is like this, I'm sure FUNNY GAMES is hell. But, if you understand that what you are seeing is just a movie and that it's all a silly, meaningless gag, then it can be quite fun. I wanted to laugh throughout FUNNY GAMES. Not because it's cruel and sadistic but because its fucking fake and it knows it. How many meta jokes are in there? How many times does it reference itself or know its being watched by an audience? It's the Brechtian alienation effect at work. It's constantly trying to alienate you from itself. Maybe you don't care about this, maybe no one in film club does. I liked it and thought it was clever. To me it wasn't trying to be anything more than that, and I liked it for it. Again, fuck Haneke's intention with it. I like the way the film comes across without it.
It's hard for me to explain why I like FUNNY GAMES without sounding like a complete asshole; I'm aware of this. But, it's really all about the experience I had seeing it for the first time. I saw it with the type of people I thought the film was mocking. They hated the film and were especially pissed at the rewind scene and the ending. This only made me appreciate it more. I'm sorry if this makes me seem callous or supercilious, maybe I am. I had a blast not taking it seriously.
You're right. Most slasher films do end that way. I think I meant that the ending of FUNNY GAMES is different than something like HOSTEL. There is no vengeful third act. I Didn't make that clear.
I don't blame you for wanting to attack FUNNY GAMES and defend HOSTEL. Amongst an arthouse crowd, the former is much more acceptable than the latter. Personally, I can only say that I prefer FUNNY GAMES because its clever, fun, and mean whereas HOSTEL is just gross. There may not be much difference between them other than my own varying levels of enjoyment. If there were fourth wall breaks in HOSTEL, I might have loved it. I'm easily amused.