Michael Haneke

Last Gasp

'Amour' owes its existence to an industry under siege

Michael Haneke is a paragon of the benefits of a generous state-funded film industry.

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The Oscars are odd. It’s just about the only reason left for having them; that and for the sake of the people who make red carpets. Every year when the nominations come out, there are three or four days of stories about the “surprises” and the people who were “snubbed.” So Tom Hooper and Kathryn Bigelow were overlooked, but Michael Haneke was remarked on. And Helen Hunt got a supporting actress nod for The Sessions. No, I’m not suggesting that she was undeserving—far from it.

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Three extraordinary small films.

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Amour is an unsentimental film about an intense, selfish love,

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Discoveries

The White Ribbon Sony Pictures Classics Creation Newmarket Films   Michael Haneke, whose new film is called The White Ribbon, has given it a subtitle: A German Children’s Story. That is warning enough. This Austrian director is by now so distinctively established as a connoisseur of darkness--with Funny Games, about neighborliness as murder; with Caché, about the past seeping into the present; with The Piano Teacher, about the animal in the civilized--that his dainty subtitle must be seen as a deadpan tease.

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Haneke Panky

Jacob Rubin has a rather more generous view of Michael Haneke--and his most recent film, Funny Games--than my own, but his article on the site today is sharp, sophisticated, and well worth reading. Moreover, I was struck by the degree to which, despite approaching the film from markedly different directions, he ("[Haneke] is far more interested in reflecting the world than changing it") and I ("[T]he lessons Haneke claims to impart... are ones that his viewers already know, or will never learn") wound up at very nearly the same place. --Christopher Orr

Conventions Upset

 Cachè (Hidden) (Sony Pictures Classics THE NEW FILM YEAR BEGAN in at least one heartening way: Daniel Auteuil arrived in a new picture. This French actor is so incredibly credible, so unostentatiously fine, that he makes his way from film to film without attracting the hoopla that attends more consciously virtuosic actors. I mention here only two of his many roles. In The Widow of Saint-Pierre, set on that French island, Auteuil was a nineteenth-century army captain whose spiritual tenor changes while he waits for the arrival of a guillotine to execute a murderer in his charge. In Apres Vous,

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Quietly, almost politely, English film-makers have in recent years been developing a sub-genre in social heterodoxy. These films do not break convention, they ignore it completely. Two instances: Stephen Poliakoff's Close My Eyes, about a man who accepts his wife's affair with her brother; Anthony Harvey's Richard's Things, about a widow who discovers that her lately deceased husband had a mistress, seeks the mistress out in curiosity, and eventually has an affair with her.

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