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Saturday, February 04, 2006


Austrian/French filmmaker, Michael Haneke's CACHE (HIDDEN) is one part thriller/mystery and more part societal commentary. And, quite timely coming from the French perspective. Without cramming the message down the collective throat of the audience or banging the message into our heads, Haneke finds a number of interesting ways to illustrate his point. In one very telling scene as the husband and wife fret over their problems we see a world at war on their big screen television to which they are both oblivious. The undercurrent of racial and class tension runs strong throughout the film and the white upper class characters never seem to notice or acknowledge on any level.

No real spoilers -- but, "the set up" is an upper class French family begins to receive anonymous video tapes taken of their home and other mysterious long running scenes where very little if anything ever happens. The tapes arrive packaged in what appear to be a child's rendering of a bleeding mouth or the dismemberment of a chicken's head. The creepy factor runs high and the family slowly begins to unravel under the pressure of the stress that "the threat" of these odd tapes and the many hidden secrets being carefully concealed. Working on both the emotional and metaphorical levels of emotion and non-acceptance of French history (specifically the French war in Algeria and the horrid repression against Algerians living in France at that time) or the unwillingness to admit that there are some very serious and brewing racial and class tensions just waiting to explode. French riots, anyone? The almost pathological refusal to accept any blame for something horrible from the past on the part of the main character packs a strong punch to the French conscience. This film is not just liberal posing --- Haneke is out for blood. And his aim is his chosen home country -- and all of us in general I should think.

Anyone familiar with the challenging, transgressive and violent work of Michael Haneke knows that his films are not going to be every viewer's cup of tea. However, to deny the impact and power of his talent would be a horrible mistake on the part of any viewer. Deliberately paced so that we fall into a sort of trap - midway into the film we are not quite sure when we are viewing "real time" reality or the creepy surveillance tapes being made of and for the family. It works. The suspense builds. However, don't be fooled into thinking you can predict what is going to happen. Suspense and thrills are not the point of Haneke's vision.

Aside from being a bit experimental, there is a particularly surprising and gruesome scene which caused a number of gasps and two quick exits when I was viewing the movie. However, there is a point being made and it would not be made without the shock value of that moment. However, it is nightmare-inducing. But, if violence upsets you may want to skip this one because you will not get much warning for what is going to happen.

The performances are pitch-perfect. One would expect no less from such talents as Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche. Auteuil is particularly effective in a role that allows him to go from one extreme to the other. By the film's end he is a very different man than the one we meet in the first few minutes. French film fans will love Annie Girardot's brief cameo! With barely 4 minutes on the screen she still manages to rip your heart out. An amazing actress. Prior to Haneke's filming of this movie I had read that Isabelle Huppert turned down the role played by Binoche. She was an idiot. Was the role not perverse enough for her?!?!? LOL! Oh well. Her loss is Binoche's gain especially after that American spelling bee movie she did with Richard Gere.

To say that CACHE is thought-provoking would be an understatement. This film left me in total awe and horror. There are no easy answers. In many ways, this is a mystery left for the audience to solve. ...or to resolve. There has been much written and discussed about the film's "odd" and "unconventional" ending. Going into the cinema I was already aware of this, but did not know what the nature of the ending. I guess this is with good reason as it was the topic in the lobby as the audience headed out into the fresh San Francisco air. Several people debated the idea that a plot point or clue was given to us in the closing sequence. It is my opinion that to focus on that is to miss Haneke's point. In the end, it isn't the mystery that matters. It is the horrible secrets and truths we hide from not only our loved ones, but from ourselves. Thus far, this is Haneke's best work.

...the talking head discuss the literature, but the books are all empty and blank.

On the plus side, my mood got better. Wasn't feeling very social, I guess. But, the weather we enjoyed today made impossible to feel down! I did go to the beach to watch the surfers, but it was too cold so I headed to the piers. I took these two shots while I was sipping a Diet Coke and watching tourists taking pictures of homeless punker types. Always amusing to watch. There are always things to see/watch when in SF or NYC. ...without fail!

(well, I am unable to share my pix with you tonight as blogger has been acting very strange as of late! -- but they are very pretty!)


Blogger ing said...

Cache sounds very Lost Highway.

I'll catch up on blogging tomorrow (if things still work).

12:18 AM  
Blogger joe said...

oh, I skipped reading this post. I cannot read about movies I am going to see. ;)

6:50 AM  
Blogger matty said...

ing - the idea of the video tapes also made me think of LOST HIGHWAY, but there is no connection beyond possibly that. And, there too, not really. Can't seem to articulate it. But, while Lynch created a mind-screw-identity-nightmare --- this film is totally grounded in reality. ...and the tapes are intended to be quite mundane -- which, oddly, makes them all the more disturbing.

joe -- am with ya. i only read about movies if i am delayed in seeing them -- or if i am unsure if i want to see it. i think you'll love it.

10:23 AM  
Blogger Lubin said...

I went to our local cinema to see this on Thursday and it was sold out, so ended up seeing the Ipcress File instead.

12:03 PM  
Blogger matty said...

Lubin -- Did they remake the old Michael Cain film? I've not heard anything about it. Hmmmm...

12:34 PM  
Blogger ginab said...

Cache sounds plainly great. I look forward to seeing the pics, the images that lifted you.

I saw Grizzly Man last. Boy, someone really could have used a bit of an education. Would be here today.

8:03 AM  
Blogger matty said...

Gina -- Wasn't GRIZZLY MAN incredible? I had the same thought, but now I wonder if it would have made a difference. That poor guy was just so lost. What made it all the more tragic to me was his lover who got pulled into that journey. I was so relieved that Herzog opted not to exploit that anymore, or in a way different than he did. Sad stuff, but so well told. ...i major'd in and have a dekree Englich. I feel it shows so well in the way I write. LOL! ugh.

8:09 AM  
Blogger laurenbove said...

It sounds great. I have to find a place around here to see it. Off to search...

1:42 PM  

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