Feb 6, 2013

Haneke goes to Hollywood

From my Guardian column:— 
"The Academy Awards are known for their bold and unexpected juxtapositions: Burt Lancaster and Ingmar Bergman! Yul Brynner and Francis Truffaut! Sharon Stone and Michaelangelo Antonioni! But nothing quite beats those generated by Michael Haneke’s progress through 2013 awards seasons. For starters, there was Haneke’s appearance at a Hollywood Reporter round-table of Best Screenplay contenders, alongside Mark Boal, John Krasinski and Judd Apatow.  The Haneke-Apatow pairing is one serious cinéastes have been awaiting a long time. Finally, the director of The Seventh Continent, about an archetypal middle-class family who have decided, for no apparent, to destroy all their possessions and commit suicide, was in the same room with the director whose most recent film is about an archetypal middle-class family who have decided, for no good reason, to peer up their dad’s butt crack. To say that Haneke brought gravitas to the proceedings is putting it mildly. He had roughly the same effect on the room that black holes are said to have on their surrounding star fields. The first question — would Haneke ever make a film about Hitler? — was met with a swift “no.” The director then proceeded to make mincemeat of Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Downfall (“repulsive and dumb”) before moving onto Schindler’s List. “The idea, the mere idea, of trying to draw and create suspense out of the question whether out of the shower head, gas is going to come or water, that to me is unspeakable,” said Haneke. Not an unfamiliar argument, perhaps, to those familiar with German sociologist Theodor Adorno’s pronouncement that “to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric”, or Haneke’s own diktats on the “totalizing productions” of the “American cinema of distraction,” but still, a little early in the morning for those more used to fielding the question “what will you be wearing?”  
 Judd Apatow looked as tight-lipped as a kid in front of the head-master who knows beyond all measure of doubt that anything he says will be his Waterloo. The interviewer moved onto John Krasinski.  
 “Yeah — John?”  said Apatow, laughing. “When he said the J- part I was so happy it ended with you.”  
The lanky, affable Krasinski then spent he better part of a minute untying his tongue on the subject of cinematic manipulation and why it was a Bad Thing, all the while wiggling his feet, as if awaiting rescue from the school bell.  
 And all for naught. Come the day of the nominations, Apatow and Krasinski didn’t make the cut. Haneke instead found himself nominated alongside none other than Quentin Tarantino, a pairing that but for the resolute atheism of Haneke’s work, is bound to be interpreted as the only proof of the existence of God provided by the 2013 Oscar season thus far. For irony alone, it beats the Haneke-Apatow match-up hands down. It’s like getting Julian Asssange and Dick Cheney to debate state secrecy." 

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