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Cinema Junkie by Beth Accomando

Funny Games U.S.

Funny Games
Funny Games (1997) and Funny Games U.S. (Attitude Films and Warner Independent)

Remakes are a mainstay of Hollywood. If something worked once - do it again. But among remakes there are some oddities. Gus Van Sant did a shot for shot remake of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho . The only differences - new actors, color film and the fact that the remake couldn't hold a candle to the original. So that remake seemed ridiculously unnecessary. Then there's the case of Japanese director Takashi Shimizu who made Ju-On/The Grudge for Japanese video, then remade it as a Japanese feature, then remade it again as a Hollywood film. He also made a Japanese sequel and an American sequel, and is now on The Grudge 3 . Shimizu gives new meaning to the notion of a one- trick pony. This year brings Michael Haneke's English language remake of his 1997 German/Austrian film Funny Games , and now called Funny Games U.S. (opened March 14 at Landmark's Hillcrest Cinemas, Edwards Mira Mesa, AMC La Jolla and UltraStar Flower Hill). I can't think of any other filmmaker who has done a shot-for-shot remake of his own film. (If you know of any please tell me.)

JP Ward from Phx, AZ
March 25, 2008 at 11:25 AM
Greetings, Zombie Grouch here, "I can't think of any other filmmaker who has done a shot-for-shot remake of his own film. (If you know of any please tell me.)" The closest I can think of is The Vanishing, the disturbing French film by George Sluizer that he remade 2 years later in Hollywood with a happier ending. But the main thing I want to say is the Funny Games franchise is a completely self-defeating exercise. Desensitized moviegoers don't go to limited arthouse screenings, they stick to the multiplex. So we're left with Haneke hammering his finger-wagging sadism to a crowd that already gets the F-ing point. Haneke not only wants to have his cake and eat it too, but proceed to vomit it at the very people who helped him afford the cake.


Beth Accomando from San Diego
March 25, 2008 at 03:39 PM
JP, Thanks. I had forgotten about The Vanishing but I think that does come closest. But at least the filmmaker changed his ending -- I'm not saying that was an improvement but at least he did something different in the remake. As for Funny Games, I'm wondering if Haneke will try to turn it into a franchise. What next, Funny Games Japan? Maybe a video game is next.

JP Ward from Phx, AZ
March 25, 2008 at 11:29 PM
"What next, Funny Games Japan? Maybe a video game is next." Hahaha! A video game that won't let you win. "Shame on you for wanting to play this." Unless you play the intruders, in which case it would be like Grand Theft Auto without any police intervention. You get to choose how many eggs you want to drop. I do hope you're not planning to take your students to this one... Oh yeah, re: self-remakes, I just remembered Hitchcock with The Man Who Knew Too Much and Cecil B Demille with The Ten Commandments. ... in case you're wondering why this weirdo from AZ found this place to begin with & keeps posting comments, it's all because of Diary of the Dead, I came across your podcast & like how you defended it against the "I'm above monster movies" attitude. My "liberal" folks raised me to appreciate PBS, heh.

Beth Accomando
March 26, 2008 at 02:23 AM
Well of course you'd play the intruder! And you could pair it up with the Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer video game where you choose random victims. I may be joking but the scary thing is that it's not that far off from what you can find in gaming. As for the Teen Critics -- I wouldn't force them to see Funny Games but I certainly wouldn't stop any of them who might be interested. I'm fascinated by horror and even a hollow exercise like this holds interest for me. And with the self-remake info, you are now putting me to shame coming up with so many that I completely forgot about. And anyone who comes to this site by way of Romero and zombies is by no means a weirdo! Thanks for the posts and your continued interest.

JW from AZ
March 26, 2008 at 04:27 AM
"And with the self-remake info, you are now putting me to shame coming up with so many that I completely forgot about." There's also Evil Dead II, depending on whether you see it as a remake or a sequel. ;) Well personally I find Henry to be a far superior film. It got its point across without insulting the audience. Putting aside all this cult/arthouse stuff, the most effective I've seen a recent film get a general audience to take violence seriously was No Country For Old Men (I'm a huge Coen fan, btw). I was on vacation when it came out and ended up seeing during the weekend in a suburban Louisiana multiplex. I was bracing myself for an obnoxious audience, but when the movie started, to my amazement (and delight) it was the most riveted I've seen a cinema audience towards screen violence since Saving Private Ryan. Not a single wiseass remark. This film honestly and palpably conveyed the loss of human life and the damage inflicted to the human body. Which goes to show, a simply well-told story can be far more effective than a didactic, condescending lecture.


Beth Accomando
March 26, 2008 at 05:19 AM
I agree that Henry was the more effective film. It was a horror film that found horror in real life crime. And I would also agree that No Country for Old Men dealt with violence effectively. I would also add Eastern Promises (and Cronenberg as a filmmaker) as a film that depicted violence in a fittingly disturbing manner. Both films are disturbing because you care for some of the characters and are more engaged in what happens to them. In Funny Games the characters have no depth so although you don't want to see them hurt you don't actually feel much for them when they do because the director seems to care little for them. But when Kelly MacDonald meets Javier Bardem's Chigurh at the end of No Country for Old Men, we care deeply about what happens to her. Thanks for the thoughtful comments.