As follow-up to my January 15 post dumping on Krzysztof Kieslowski (though actually it didn’t: more like precise contextual description, applying to just one film), what say we play around with this idea: that Michael Haneke‘s the anti-Kieslowski of our time. Not all of Haneke, obviously, and in fact maybe only the recent Caché exactly fits the model, but do consider: the reflecting glass that Kieslowski’s “Trois Couleurs” systematically applies to the audience’s self-infatuated gaze—so fine to think these elegant thoughts, feel these delicate feelings, consume these exquisitely upmarket consumables, etc—Haneke just as systematically shatters: thoughts curdled, feelings gone to seed, consumables like ashes to the touch, almost a death’s shroud. Except it’s not crassly done, that shattering, and in fact employs roughly the same palette of tones that Kieslowski himself might bring. Since if anything Caché is even more “tastefully” leached and muted, in fastidiously monochrome ways, with shadowy grays and neutrals that nonetheless seem to glow, like the glass of milk Cary Grant carries up the stairs to Joan Fontaine in Hitchcock’s Suspicion, quotidian “poison” of an almost numinous kind.
So maybe the question ought to be: do we really still want/need these antidotes to mythification in our terminal Götzendämmerung state, stripping away class attractions once again, the implied cachet these accoutrements inevitably bring? So old they’re new, I guess—and always in contrasting directions: for each celebrationist a naysayer in return. Except already Kieslowski’s more than a decade in the grave, so what’s Haneke’s excuse?