Haneke. Haneke’s strength for the purposes of this list are the 3 top 500 films (very few of those left at spot #72 here) with remarkable stylistic and narrative consistency in his oeuvre. Dominant during the 2000’s—Haneke gave us 4 films that found their way into the decade’s top 100. I’m not sure he’s a “style-plus” auteur but his films follow a rigid form and are intellectually superior and consistent. He is certainly no caretaker or game manager of great films. Unlike many great auteurs on this list he got his start very late in the game. In fact, Benny’s Video is his firs archiveable film and it was released when Haneke was 50 years old. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is white-ribbon-haneke-ladjfljadfkldjasf-1024x578.jpg
haunting monochrome imagery from The White Ribbon

Best film:  Cache. For me it was the second viewing that cemented this masterpiece as one of the elite films of the 00’s decade.

from Cache– matches the greatest shot from Time of the Wolf (below)

total archiveable films: 10

top 100 films: 0

top 500 films: 3 (Cache, The Piano Teacher, Code Unknown)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cache-haneke-aldjkljafl-1024x557.jpg
static shot duration to open and close Cache– ambiguity
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cache-haneke-ladjfdaf-1024x569.jpg
the brilliant final shot from Cache

top 100 films of the decade: 6 (Funny Games, Code Unknown, The Piano Teacher, Cache, The White Ribbon, Amour)

most overrated: Amour It is #1 of 2012 on TSPDT. I’ve seen it twice and I did think it was better the second time but I don’t think it’s the best film of 2012 by a long stretch. I’m honestly closer to 10th of 2012 so this is an easy choice for me.

most underrated:  The Piano Teacher #717 on TSPDT all-time. It’s a landmark performance from Hubbert but this is Haneke’s cold torture chamber of a film (a trait they all share).

  • It’s clearly one of Haneke’s best works (and Hubbert’s single best I’ve seen) an unflinching portrait of a complicated and icy woman
  • Haneke, like many of his works, is incredibly brutal here- he means to flatten us.
  • It’s an intellectual work- odd Freudian (sorta) scene later
  • There’s a high level Schumann vs. Schubert discussion that could easily be a funny intellectual joke in a Woody Allen movie
  • Reoccurring overhead shot of hands playing the piano
  • It would make for a nice dual feature pairing with Elle– Hubbert’s character and the issues
  • Haneke, wisely, spends a lot of time holding the frame (past the point of comfort for most viewers) on Hubbert’s icy stare
  • Twin obsessions of music and sex— repression, self-mutilation
  • Exacting and rigid
  • Hubbert’s character is clearly cracking up and getting worseT
  • there’s no musical score to the film—actually I don’t think any of Haneke’s films have a score
  • It’s about power and control for Hubbert’s character- there’s a very long domineering scene in the bathroom that is tough—it’s a painful watch
  • This singular character study by Haneke is like a 2002-2017 PT Anderson later work without the visual flair (I think Haneke would be proud of that but artistically it just puts it a notch below)
  • It’s an isolated world—Hubbert’s character is in prison (many scenes show he captured)—she sneaks off to a porno rental store—her worlds are colliding here as she’s less and less able to control herself
  • She cannot love “you’re sick” he says of her. The scene is devastating. Hubbert’s eyes during that scene is extremely powerful acting
  • Hubbert’s character also tortures a student of hers- but you could read it as she’s trying to prevent the student from having her awful life
  • The finale is perfect- we have the self-abuse scene and then the gorgeous exterior concert hall which could substituted as a big beautiful prison—it actually mirrors the school ending in Cache
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is piano-teacher-haneke-ladjfkldjafkldjaklfj-aldfj.jpg
icy– from the performance to the decor/lighting/set– here from The Piano Teacher
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-piano-teacher-haneke-prison-alsdkjfljfkla-1024x530.png
the conclusion of The Piano Teacher– beautiful shot- yes– but tied to the characterization and Haneke’s statement on the upper crust
gorgeous wall-art imagery in The Piano Teacher

gem I want to spotlight:   Code Unknown

  • It’s a very strong entry for Haneke’s oeuvre, Binoche’s, and the intersecting or non-linear narrative (Pulp Fiction, Rashoman, mystery train, Inarritu) sub-genre—the full name of the film is Code Unknown: Incomplete Tales of Several Journeys
  • Full of Haneke’s trademark dread and pessimism both in the systems and people’s nature—there are heavy racial tensions
  • Half conversations
  • Bressionian in the dogmatic approach—very intellectual approach
  • A story of moral emptiness
  • Cryptic- elliptical editing breaking in and out of these characters who met in the racially charged and superb opening
  • No music, simple black and white credits
  • Opening and closing are deaf kids who can’t figure out what the other is saying
  • Very long-opening shot on the streets of Paris (above)- 9 minutes and it’s marvelous. Intense, filled with social and moral implications—a stunner. The film actually can never reach this level again. The system is a disaster. The black guy is arrested or brought in by the police. The poor begging woman is departed. These are the two victims.
  • Haneke stays in frame for an uncomfortably long time. His intent
  • Vignettes—great short one of Binoche hearing domestic violence next door and another unbelievably intense one on the subway which has an Arab man playing both the attacker and defender of her
  • Haneke loves scenes showing the banality and ineptitude of the affluent
  • The 4 characters at the center of the incident on the street are shown in their own worlds throughout the film- sometimes connecting again for a second
  • Books as mise-en-scene again for Haneke. He’s targeting the intellectuals who can’t figure it out
  • Almost all scenes cut off prematurely in the editing
  • The camera never moves in or out but often side to side
  • It’s way more intellectually focused and subtle (and less visually appealing) but it’s very similar to Inarritu’s 2006 Babel
  • Some scenes are just complete throwaways unfortunately
  • A devastating account of the immigrant experience
  • Haneke brilliantly interjects some fake scenes as Binoche as an actress- this is a statement for him on movies
  • Her scene on the subway is marvelous where she breaks down- great acting
  • Long silent finale of the Paris street or the subway is where Haneke should have stopped- the photographer then the deaf kids with not subtitle is a little weaker
the opening of Code Unknown– perhaps Haneke’s finest single moment

stylistic innovations/traits:    Haneke is stern, icy, unsparing and controversial. His films are both intellectual and uncomfortable. Again behind the camera he isn’t Cuaron but few are–and the run he went on from 1997 to 2009 put him up there with PT Anderson and others as the best during that stretch.

  • children desensitized (because of media, bad parenting)- like , Happy End, Benny’s Video, The White Ribbon or Funny Games. sexual repression, loathsome white privilege
  • structured formal opening and closing shots – often repeated bookends
  • No musical scores
  • No humor—many of Haneke’s films could easily be a comedy in the hands of like Bunuel with this god-awful rich real estate empire family being the “bourgeois”
  • the long awkward pauses
  • like many of his works, is incredibly brutal here- he means to flatten us.
  • Haneke, wisely, spends a lot of time holding the frame (past the point of comfort for most viewers) on
  • Exacting, rigid, calculating
  • It’s about power and control for Hubbert’s character- there’s a very long domineering scene in the bathroom that is tough—it’s a painful watch
  • Full of Haneke’s trademark dread and pessimism both in the systems and people’s nature—there are heavy racial tensions
  • Books as mise-en-scene again for Haneke. He’s targeting the intellectuals who can’t figure it out
  • Mise-en-scene he favors shots of crowds (end of Cache, subway in Code Unknown) – he wants the viewer to pick what to watch—like Hou Hsiao-Hsien
  • The average shot length is very high- long takes specifically at the end of Cache, Funny Games and the opening of Code Unknown
  • Very anti-Hollywood
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is funny-games-haneke-ladkjklfjafa.jpg
Haneke’s coming out party was 1997’s Funny Games at age 55
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is time-of-the-wolf-cinematography-djasfkl-haneke.jpg
from Time of the Wolf– a doppelganger image to the one he’d use above in Cache

top 10

  1. Cache
  2. The White Ribbon
  3. The Piano Teacher
  4. Code Unknown
  5. Funny Games
  6. Amour
  7. The Time of the Wolf
  8. Happy End
  9. Benny’s Video
  10. The Castle
this sort of photographical beautify is frankly not Haneke’s forte– but this image here from The White Ribbon would make Malick proud

By year and grades

1992- Benny’s Video R
1997- Funny Games HR
1997- The Castle R
2000- Code Unknown MS
2001- The Piano Teacher MS
2003- The Time of the Wolf R
2005- Cache MP
2009- The White Ribbon MP
2012- Amour HR
2017- Happy End R

*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film

MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film

HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film

R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives