Michael Haneke, a Cinema of Disturbance
November 18, 2005 8:30 AM   Subscribe

"... we are sweeping everything under the carpet, but the oddness is cropping up all over the place. And then, the carpet starts to move…".
Michael Haneke, "le manipulateur" who introduced his latest film, Caché, at Cannes with a half-amused “I wish you a disturbing evening”, is the proponent of a "cinema of disturbance". A cinema of loving self-mutilation, where time is non-linear and everything happens in long take shots; in Haneke's world, guilt destroys lives decades after the original sin. All his male characters are "Georges" and his female characters are either "Evas" or "Annas", "because I lack fantasy". Unsurprisingly, he is a Bresson and Tarkovsky fan. He'll direct "Don Giovanni" at the Paris Opera in early 2006: "In 20 years of working in the theater, I only staged one comedy, and that was my single failure".
posted by matteo (19 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks Matteo, I've been looking for stuff like this.
posted by david wester at 8:36 AM on November 18, 2005

Danke schön, Matteo. Very much appreciated. (I bet Haneke would prove quite adept at the helm of a film based on Iain Banks' Wasp Factory.)
posted by shoepal at 8:59 AM on November 18, 2005

Press Book for Code Unknown (.pdf)

mk2 site for La Pianiste
posted by matteo at 9:29 AM on November 18, 2005

Thanks, matteo. Excellent as always. I was all gung-ho to get Haneke to give you a shout out at this year's Toronto Film Fest but he was a no show. :)

For my money, Haneke is the greatest living filmmaker and, imo, one of the masters of all time. Few of his contemporaries can say so much with so little and have such stunning mastery of mise-en-scene and montage.

It is very unfortunate that his work is so scarce on DVD. Only 4 of his titles are available (Code Unknown, The Piano Player, Funny Games, Time of the Wolf). His early work is extraordinary and just as amazing as the work he is being recognized for lately. I've emailed with Criterion about releasing some of his titles and their official word was "no plans to" and I got the impression from the email that they weren't fans, which is disappointing. Though Haneke would loathe doing a commentary, I'm sure some scholar could offer interesting incite into his work and process--though he really is one of the few filmmakers who consistently makes such self-contained works that outside commentary does run the risk of polluting rather than enhancing.

I've met Haneke twice ('94 and '97). The first time was to speak about releasing some of his stuff on video--I wanted to put out Benny's Video and 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance (Rob Tregenza's label had already released Seventh Continent). After discussing it with him (he seemed eager), he referred me to the Austrian Film Commission. Unfortunately, the AFC were not convinced I could have made a good go of it as I was young and had only released two titles by that point. I can't be sure, but I think they were pissed about the lacklustre sales of Seventh Continent and didn't want to screw up the release of, at that time, Haneke's best films. (Incidently, to my knowledge, to this day neither of those titles have been released anywhere in the world in any format.)

The second time I met him was in a hotel lobby the day after seeing Funny Games, which has since become one of my favorite films ever. He was in a terrific mood and cracking jokes--even made fun of one of the audience members at the screening I attended, calling him, if I remember correctly, an idiot. (During a Q&A, the boy had said he liked the film but thought Haneke should be bolder and show more violence onscreen, clearly missing the point of the film and the violence he did show).

It sucks that his films are so poorly received by most audiences, at least in North America. Each time a new Haneke film is made I have to cross my fingers and hope to get tickets for a Toronto Film Fest screening as I'm never sure his films will open here (most have not) or be distributed on DVD. Very annoying.

I attended an afternoon screening of Cache in September and thought it was terrific. It was the only movie I saw at the fest this year (out of 42) that everyone was discussing just outside the theatre, post-screening. The sidewalk was alive with chatter and theories and whatnot. It is a film that binds story theme and production technique as tight as any I've ever seen and I am looking forward to seeing it again. Thankfully, Hussain Amarshi, of Toronto's Mongrel Media, was smart enough to pick up the title for distro in Canada so this should be pretty easy to do.
posted by dobbs at 10:19 AM on November 18, 2005 [1 favorite]

Dobbs: to my knowledge, to this day neither of those titles have been released anywhere in the world in any format.
They are available in France, for instance at the FNAC stores. There's box set available with these 3 movies (just search for "Haneke").
posted by elgilito at 10:53 AM on November 18, 2005

dobbs: here
posted by matteo at 11:01 AM on November 18, 2005

it's cheaper on amazon.fr, though
posted by matteo at 11:02 AM on November 18, 2005

Thanks, guys! Looks like they just came out a few weeks ago. Excellent!
posted by dobbs at 11:16 AM on November 18, 2005

Well, after such a good post and dobbs' excellent comment, I think it's high time I looked deeper into the works of this director. Thanks people.
...also, I've just checked www.zip.ca (the online dvd rental people in Canada) and they have five of them for rental, including 'Cache' - Canadian MeFi-ers take note!
posted by Zack_Replica at 11:26 AM on November 18, 2005

Oooh, I just love Haneke. Suspect Video in Toronto (Canada) has his early films (on video at least), and they are indeed amazing. I'm always surprised at how affected I am by his films - they really stick with you, and can mess you up big-time if you sort of 'give yourself over to them'. I took the day off after seeing "The Seventh Continent" - I couldn't deal with anything after that movie, and just stayed in bed.

As to dobbs' comment regarding DVD commentaries - from the brief interview available on the DVD for "Time of the Wolf", as well as the scant interviews I have found online, Haneke comes off as not only unusually intelligent and insightful in discussing his own films, but often displays a very glib and surprising sense of humour as well. I'd love to hear a commentary for "Funny Games" in particular; again, as dobbs suggests, it seems to be his most misunderstood film.

Can't wait to see "Cache"!
posted by stinkycheese at 12:41 PM on November 18, 2005

including Cache

I don't see how that's possible. It's not been released anywhere on DVD nor theatrically yet. It only played Cannes in May and TIFF in September. What happens when you try to rent it?

stinkycheese, I didn't mean to imply that Haneke couldn't do a good commentary, I just don't think he'd want to. In the liner notes for Code Unknown he states that he was asked for liner notes from the distributor but that he thought that defeated the purpose (paraphrasing)--he says something similar in one of the linked articles. Why talk about the movie? If I could explain it, I wouldn't have to make it.

Suspect Video's Benny's Video is a bootleg as is, if they have it, 71 Fragments. I think they bought 7th Continent from my old shop, Art & Trash Video, when it closed in '98. We had two. I took the other one.

Also, if you've seen all the Haneke films, I suggest you try and find The Moor's Head, which he wrote but didn't direct. It's quite interesting till the terrible ending. Also, Antares, an Austrian film from '04 is good and the director has been compared to Haneke. They deal with similar themes but Antares' director doesn't have the craft. I'll certainly watch his future films though.
posted by dobbs at 2:04 PM on November 18, 2005

It only played Cannes in May and TIFF in September.

saw it a month ago

posted by matteo at 2:37 PM on November 18, 2005

posted by matteo at 2:38 PM on November 18, 2005

But it's not on DVD there yet, is it, m?
posted by dobbs at 2:42 PM on November 18, 2005

dobbs - seems I didn't read the fine print. oops. Quote from zip.ca...

Rental Availability
This title has not been released on DVD, and a date for such release has yet to be announced.

It does say it has a release date of 2005, but maybe that's just wishful thinking on their part. Well, I suppose it's good that they've got 4 films definitely in anyways... I'm looking forward to seeing them.
posted by Zack_Replica at 5:04 PM on November 18, 2005

it's not on DVD there yet, is it, m?

not officially, no
posted by matteo at 6:04 PM on November 18, 2005

La Pianiste is one of my favorite films.

Thanks for the links.
posted by nonmerci at 10:36 PM on November 18, 2005

dobbs: I rented my copy of "The Seventh Continent" at your store (the one on Yonge just north of Eglinton) - what a small world it really is. And I agree with you that Haneke doesn't seem inclined to do commentaries. I was just saying I thought he'd be great if he did.

Still haven't seen 71 Fragments or The Moor's Head. Thanks for the recommendation. "Benny's Video" was almost certainly a bootleg, yes. Not to derail or anything, but if it isn't commercially available, I certainly can't see the harm in renting a bootleg. I'd buy a copy if I ever saw it for sale.

And then I'd set a camera & film myself stunning it.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:27 PM on November 19, 2005

stinky, click matteo or elgilito's links above. Benny's Video & 71 Fragments on DVD!

If you don't have an international dvd player (and you should), a boot of it is available from superhappyfun.com, but they only rate it a 6 outta 10. I suspect it's the same source as Suspect's copy.

Neat that you were an Art & Trasher! Small world indeed.
posted by dobbs at 9:58 PM on November 19, 2005

« Older News Filter: Hollywood Madam Starts a Stud Farm   |   A China That Never Was Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments