A director revisiting their earlier work is not a new phenomenon. Cecil B DeMille in 1956 remade his 1923 silent classic The Ten Commandments. Alfred Hitchcock made The Man Who Knew Too Much in 1934 and again in 1936. More recently Francis Veber (Three Fugitives) and Takeshi Shimizu (The Grudge) made English language versions of their hit films. However, none of the previous revisits has been as needless, bizarre and self-aggrandising as Michael Haneke's reworking of his 1997 cult favourite Funny Games. Haneke takes his lead from the similarly ill-conceived Gus Van Sant remake of Hitchcock's Psycho by creating a virtual shot-by-shot remake. The only differences are that now the story is told in English with superstar actors and mobile phones. Naomi Watts and Tim Roth play the unfortunate couple terrorised by a duo of young Clockwork Orange wannabes, played by Michael Pitt and Brady Corbett. The biggest problem is that the original wasn't that good in the first place. The film's polemic on violence in modern popular culture has a self-defeating narcissism; cheap comic violence is used to propel the action forward rather than develop plot or characters. Haneke's ego is what really needs a bashing.
Published: July 9, 2008 04:00 AM