Sunday, 6 September 2009

Michael Haneke

Michael Haneke is perhaps my favourite film director working today. His films are challenging, raw, honest and more often than not, quite disturbing. They focus upon tearing through the security and banality of everyday life, exposing dark realities of emotion, perversion, obsession and the like. Aside from that, his films question the medium of cinema and our role as viewer and consumer. Such complexities served as a pivotal focus in Funny Games with its relentless depiction of sadistic violence, while in Caché the lines of cinema and reality completely blur as Haneke becomes the off-screen instigator / agent provocateur of the whole storyline

His films are not for the faint-hearted. Haneke's first films formed a trilogy of 'emotional glaciation' that focused upon alienation, repression, the media and violence. My favourite of these is The Seventh Continent that ranks as one of the bleakest films I've ever seen. Based upon a true story, its depiction of a family's collapse caused by the boredom and banality of modern life is shocking. Visually, the film is beautiful, rich in repetition and clean edits that create an almost hypnotic and mechanical sense of detachment

Other films that come highly recommended are Benny's Video that focuses upon themes of voyeurism, detachment and responsibility, famously opening with the slaughter of a pig, and The Piano Teacher, a film bursting with sexual tension and perversion

Haneke's latest film The White Ribbon won the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival and opens this Autumn

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