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NYFF: The White Ribbon

NYFF: The White Ribbon

As is the case with several films in this year’s New York Film Festival, Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon exemplifies the pleasures and drawbacks of auteurism. On one hand, familiarity with Haneke’s (or Denis’s or Dumont’s or Breillat’s or Resnais’s or Rivette’s) filmography deepens our understanding of his latest film. We can see patterns, hear rhymes and echoes, obsess over variations, while monitoring the path of a larger career arc—the director’s progress and maturation. On the other hand, we’re all too familiar with what’s in store. Viewed in relation to previous work, new films can seem not so new. They are too familiar. Which side gets the upper hand largely depends on one’s appreciation or affection for the filmmaker (and filmmaking project) in question. Even indefatigable auteurists, for whom pattern itself—rather than the meaning of the revisited gesture or theme—is sacrosanct, can play favorites. At this point in his career, especially after his disastrous stunt remake of his own Funny Games, Haneke has as many detractors as he has supporters, and The White Ribbon will repel or reward them accordingly. And as it happens, each response will be justified. Click here to read the rest of Eric Hynes’s review of The White Ribbon.

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