Happy End (2017)

Happy End
Director: Michael Haneke
Writer: Michael Haneke
Cast: Isabelle HuppertJean-Louis TrintignantMathieu KassovitzFantine HarduinFranz RogowskiLaura VerlindenAurélia PetitToby Jones
Seen on: 12.10.2017
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Plot:
After her mother is admitted to the hospital, Eve (Fantine Harduin) moves in with her father Thomas (Mathieu Kassovitz) and his new wife Anais (Laura Verlinden). They all live in Eve’s grandfather Georges’s (Jean-Louis Trintignant) house. Georges is starting to show symptoms of dementia and is desperately trying to keep control of his life. His business has already been taken over by his daughter Anne (Isabelle Huppert) who struggles with problems at work. In this difficult constellation, it comes as no surprise that secrets start coming to light everywhere.

Happy End, unfortunately, is a weak film, at least for a Haneke film. There was a lot of potential and some very good stuff, but it just doesn’t really come together.

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Così fan tutte

Così fan tutte
Director: Michael Haneke
Writer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (music) / Lorenzo Da Ponte (libretto)
Cast: Anett Fritsch, Paola Gardina, Andreas Wolf, Juan Francisco Gatell, Kerstin Avemo, William Shimell
Part of: Wiener Festwochen

Plot:
Ferrando (Juan Francisco Gatell) is engaged to Dorabella (Paola Gardina) and Guglielmo (Andreas Wolf) to Fiordiligi (Anett Fritsch) and both couples are very much in love. They are staying with Don Alfonso (William Shimell) and his wife Despina (Kerstin Avemo). Don Alfonso is convinced of the fickleness of women and Ferrando and Guglielmo agree to a bet with him: They will dress up as strangers and try to seduce the fiancées of the other guy. But will that end well?

This production of Così fan tutte is extremely slick – from the stage design to the costumes, from the acting to the music, everything is just really glossy and smooth. For me, it hit a couple of wrong notes (no pun intended), but it was beautiful.

cosifantutte

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Amour [Love] (2012)

Amour
Director: Michael Haneke
Writer: Michael Haneke
Cast: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert, Alexandre Tharaud, William Shimell

Plot:
Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) have been married since about forever. Now well into their eighties, they have a comfortable routine with each other. But that routine is interrupted when one morning, Anne seems to fade out for a little while. After a check at the hospital, it turns out that Anne had a stroke which is only the starting point for her slowly falling apart.

Amour is a slow movie that tells its story calmly. Nevertheless it never gets boring. The story is just that absorbing and engaging.

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Das weiße Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte [The White Ribbon] (2009)

The White Ribbon is Michael Haneke‘s newest movie, starring Christian Friedel and Ulrich Tukur (and Birgit Minichmayr in a mini-mini-role).

Plot:
A German village just before World War I. Strange things start to happen, attacks that seem like punishments, and everything seems to point into the direction of the abused and supressed children of the village. The story is told from the point of view of the village teacher who tries to get to the heart of things.

I have to admit that when I left the movie, my first comment was that it was really unsatisfying [and yes, I did sound like a snob saying it]: this movie doesn’t have an ending! Having had some time to think about it, I think it’s more satisfying than I actually thought it was (if that makes any sense). In any case, it’s beautifully shot, well acted and extremely cruel.

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Funny Games (1997 and 2007)

Funny Games is an Austrian movie by writer/director Michael Haneke starring Susanne Lothar, Ulrich Mühe, Arno Frisch and Frank Giering which he then remade shot for shot ten years later with Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet.

Plot:
A well-off family travels to their weekend getaway at the shore of a lake. While the father Georg(e) [Ulrich Mühe/Tim Roth] and the son get the boat ready, the mother Ann(a) [Susanne Lothar/Naomi Watts] stays in the house to prepare dinner. Suddenly a young man, Peter, [Frank Giering/Brady Corbet] comes from the neighbour’s house to ask for some eggs. He’s joined by another young man, Paul, [Arno Frisch/Michael Pitt] and while both of them are very polite, things become threatening really quickly. When the father and the son return to the house, Peter and Paul take the whole family hostage to play “games” with them.

Both movies are heavy cost – a thorough and deep analysis of violence in movies and what it does to the viewer. Haneke uses the horror genre conventions to hammer home a point – and hammer it he does. This is no subtle pointer that maybe violence in movies is not such a good thing but a huge, blinking neon sign that screams about the depravity of the average movie consumer.

[SPOILERS]

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