Thursday, October 25, 2007
Haneke at Harvard
It's been gratifying to finally see Michael Haneke granted the acclaim he has deserved for years, including retrospectives in New York at MOMA, and now at the Harvard Film Archive. I had to miss Haneke's personal appearance last weekend due to the rampaging performing arts schedule (a decision I will always regret, particularly as one of Haneke's great innovations is to design his films as "performances"), but for the uninitiated, there's every reason to check out the series this weekend, which features screenings of Benny's Video, 71 Fragments in a Chronology of Chance, The Castle, The Seventh Continent, The Piano Teacher, Code Unknown, and, of course, the original Funny Games. Of these, only The Castle, a meandering treatment of Kafka's fragmentary text, is something of a disappointment (imagine - Haneke produced six films of the highest, most challenging quality in something like a dozen years!). Haneke virgins should, of course, see Funny Games and The Piano Teacher for a sample of the director's full-force shock treatment - just prepare to lie in a limp, quivering pile for the rest of the weekend. Haneke initiates might want to try an "artistic development" schedule - Benny's Video clearly prefigures Funny Games, while 71 Fragments in a Chronology of Chance is a rough sketch of Code Unknown. If you can't make it to the Film Archive, however, you can always catch up with the master on DVD - all these titles are finally available from Kino. Now if only some theatre company would invite him over here to stage a play (he directed a famous Don Giovanni in Paris last year). Are you listening, ART? Imagine a season that included Robert Woodruff and Michael Haneke (and maybe a play by Howard Barker!) . . . trust me, if you pulled that off, all would be forgiven between us!