Ever wanted to work with director Michael Haneke? You may want to watch this first…
Michael Haneke's films tell us that life is meaningless nightmare of suffering. Yves Montmayeur's Michael H. Profession: Director tells us that working on a Michael Haneke film is a meaningless nightmare of suffering. So you have to applaud this nifty if conventionally assembled documentary-profile for at least possessing some semblance of ideological coherence to it.
Starting with Amour and working its way back through Haneke's catalogue of directorial works, Michael H. Profession: Director appears to exist as a kind of primer for Academy members who didn't have the gumption or wherewithal to navigate the daunting, circuitous corridors of a film with subtitles.
Sure, there's insight a-plenty into Haneke's ultra-rigorous and domineering working methods, but frankly, if you've seen the films, you'll have probably have guessed that he's hardly the type of artist to spend his time on set high-fiving the sound mixer and letting of stink bombs in the dressing rooms.
What makes this worth a watch, though, is Montmayeur's exclusive backstage access and Haneke's willingness to allow the magical process of his filmmaking to be captured on camera by this artistic interloper. The opening shot of the film is undeniably great, with Haneke enacting the dream sequence from Amour in which Jean-Louis Trintignant's Georges briefly wanders out of his apartment to check on a strange disturbance.
It's fascinating to see just how closely Trintignant's version of this scene mirrors the version that Haneke shows him, not only offering the suggestion that the director has his films mapped in dark, indelible ink in his head, but hints at some of the autobiographical textures of the film.
Elsewhere, the film contains interviews with collaborators such as Isabelle Huppert, Beatrice Dalle and the late (and very great) Susanne Lothar who all concur that Haneke is indeed a visionary and that working for him is about as fun as thumbscrews. It should also be noted that this works far better as an accompaniment rather than an introduction to Haneke's oeuvre, mainly because Montmayeur replays all the most important scenes and plot-points from titles such as Benny's Video, Funny Games and Hidden.
The low point in the film is watching as Haneke goes utterly crackers during the filming of the opening long tracking shot in 2000's Code: Unknown. He almost transmutes into one of his own vile creations on camera as we watch him berating a supporting character for getting the tone of his performance wrong.
A timely profile of the Oscar darling.
Nothing revolutionary here, but a few spellbinding behind the scenes moments.
Who knew that working for Haneke wouldn't be superfun happy time?