After winning the Palme D’Or for the black-and-white intro to fascism “The White Ribbon,” Michael Haneke announced that he would reunite with great French thespian Isabelle Huppert (“The Piano Teacher,” “Time of the Wolf“) and French icon Jean-Louis Trintignant (Bertolucci‘s “The Conformist,” Eric Rohmer‘s “My Night at Maud’s,” Claude Chabrol‘s “Les Biches” to name just a few classics) in a brutal-sounding story about the agony of aging titled “These Two.” Excitement rose, but then quickly deflated: after seeing a similarly themed Canadian film (the question being whether it was Sarah Polley’s “Away from Her” or “The Barbarian Invasions“), he opted to cancel to project in favor of an Internet pic set to shoot in September in both the US and Japan.
So it’s November, and surely we should’ve heard something more about this Internet project by now, no? Something is up. We sat down with Huppert and director Claire Denis for their film “White Material” and Huppert let a few morsels slip, saying that Haneke had revived his once-canceled project. “He went back to it. I’m playing the daughter of my two parents, played by Emmanuelle Riva (“Hirsoshima mon Amour,” “Three Colors: Blue“) and Jean Louis Trintignant, set in Paris. It will be shooting in a few months.” Needless to say, we’re excited and even the relatively subdued Denis is pumped, remarking, “I’m already longing to see that film.” We’re with you on that one.
Details are at a minimum on the picture except that it will center on the “humiliation of the physical breakdown in the elderly.” Uhh, you might not want to buy tickets for your grandma for this one.
So what does this mean for the “Internet film” that was promised to start production in September? Well, there’s a small likelihood that it was shot completely under the radar, but everything else points to postponement. Worry not, Haneke-fiend, the relationship between people and the world wide web seems like a ripe subject for his cold dissection, if anything it has been put on the back burner rather than been canceled. After all, “The White Ribbon” had been bumping around for ten years before it went in front of cameras. We’ll get our bleak take on the information superhighway in due time.
Huppert and Denis had plenty more to say about the excellent and haunting “White Material,” and more on this interview soon. We implore you to mark your calendars for November 19th, when “White Material” rolls into NY via IFC Films.