Monday, March 03, 2008

 

Not ha-ha funny (Deja vu)

By Edward Copeland
The Tonys have a general eligibility rule for their awards when it comes to Broadway revivals: If the staging is essentially the same and by the same director as the original production, he or she is ineligible. The same applies to performers if they are playing the same role they did before.

Michael Haneke's American remake of his own 1997 film Funny Games brings this to mind since except for a new cast and a new language, it is nearly a shot-by-shot recreation of his original film.


Since the two versions are so similar, all you can really compare are the casts. Both sets perform particularly well, especially Naomi Watts, though I still prefer Susanne Lothar in the original.

Tim Roth gets the role of the father this time, but it's nearly as underdeveloped as Ulrich Muhe's was in the original, though Muhe managed to bring more to it.

Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet as Peter and Paul/Tom and Jerry/Beavis and Butt-head in the new version pretty much end up in a draw with Arno Frisch and Frank Giering in the original.

The problem with remaking Funny Games is that it probably will only work for those who haven't seen the original. It's so much like the original version that it's as if you're watching the same film again and this is not a movie that gets better the more you see it.

Its points seem more obvious and some of the breaking of the fourth wall and other tricks seem even more gimmicky the second time around. The differences between Haneke's two versions are so minimal that I'd tell anyone planning to watch one to quit after one.

Personally, I found the original a little better simply because it was new, but if someone starts with the remake, they will likely have a better reaction to it and should skip the original.


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