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Freaks and Geeks set a high value on realism: it contains just about every embarrassing teenage experience you can think of
The pilot episode of Us comedy teen drama Freaks and Geeks opens with a footballer having a deep and meaningful with his pretty cheerleader girlfriend. "Ashley," says the jock, "it's just . . . I love you so much it scares me." They start making out as Starbucks-lite music wafts in.
But things are not what they seem. Suddenly the camera darts beneath the tiers of seats, the music switches to Van Halen, and we find ourselves at a stoner party happening under the stand. "God, I Hate high school," says Lindsay Weir, the show's heroine, setting the tone for what is to come.
Set in 1980-81 at McKinley High School in a (fictional) suburb of Detroit, the series follows Weir as she migrates from star "mathlete" to the "freak" crowd, while »
- Priya Elan
Michael C from Serious Film here.
This Tuesday the Sundance Film Festival announced its 2011 Dramatic Competition lineup. It's ironic that a festival devoted to independence and originality has me looking over the list of films like the crassest studio boss ever to chomp down on a cigar behind a giant desk. You can't help but gravitate towards big stars and familiar concepts. "You've got fifty words, kid. Wow me!"
One can't help but run over the list trying to spot the future of filmmaking somewhere in there. Last Winter's festival had Blue Valentine, which is still a big part of the conversation, and Winter's Bone, which gains momentum by the day. In fact, the roots of the current awards season goes all the way back to the 1998 festival where Darren Aronofsky was awarded for directing Pi and Lisa Cholodenko won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Prize for High Art.
History has »
- Michael C.
Reviewed by Dane Marti
Throughout the history of moving images, there have been many films that have dealt with alienated, disaffected youth. Gosh, every decade has a new armada of weird teenagers to complement the incoming freshman of either High School or College: Zits can be big business, baby. In reality, a person’s early years can be extremely dramatic, filled with hormonal conflict. Besides, filmmakers love to make movies that contain messages that appeal to the massive audiences who pay the large sums to see the latest weekend release. These days, that large crowd is in their teens and twenties. Anyway, I imagine that everyone has at least one horror story from his or her early years. I might have too many.
As far as this film goes, ‘The Graduate’ has nothing to worry about. Neither does good ol’ Holden Caulfield in the groundbreaking novel, A Catcher in the Rye. »
- Movie Geeks
I feel as though I should have a beef with Todd Solondz. After all, the man did name a pedofile/rapist after my hometown in his movie Happiness. But it's hard to hate the man that created a film as gloriously screwed up as Welcome to the Dollhouse. His next film, Dark Horse, is currently in preproduction and has already signed Justin Bartha, Aasif Mandvi, Jordan Gelber, Zachary Booth and Donna Murphy, but now three big names are coming on board. THR reports that Christopher Walken, Mia Farrow and Selma Blair have all joined the cast of Solondz's newest outing. The film is about a thirty-something toy collector (Gelber) who is still living with his parents (Walken and Farrow), and, in an attempt to get rid of his "Dark Horse" label, decides to pursue a woman (Blair) much like himself. Production has already begun on the film, which is shooting »
Todd Solondz, the provocative, some might say confrontational filmmaker behind such bold, brilliant films as Welcome to the Dollhouse and Happiness, has found his cast for Dark Horse. The indie drama began principal photography earlier this week, with frequent bit player, first-time lead Jordan Gelber taking the center role, Justin Bartha (The Hangover) playing his more successful brother, and Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi (The Last Airbender) playing his love interest's "not quite" ex-boyfriend. Now there's a casting update that sees the film's actor roster getting a big push. Joining the film are Christopher Walken, Mia Farrow and Selma Blair, who round out a cast that revolves around "a thirtysomething man (Gelber) in arrested development who lives with his parents (Walken and Farrow), reluctantly works for his father and avidly collects toys. He seeks out a thirtysomething woman (Blair) in arrested development in an attempt to shed the "dark horse »
- Adam Quigley
- Garth Franklin
There is nothing quite like low expectations, which is how one speculates Will Gluck’s directorial debut Fired Up was greenlit. With low expectations for turning out a genre film in the vein of–dare I say–the evil twins Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, Gluck turned out a minor comic masterpiece. With developed characters and situations with a level of self aware, self-mocking humor, he created a parody of what it could have evolved into.
Gluck’s Easy A is a more calculated and perhaps more mature, losing the postmodern spunk of Fired Up, it trades the cheap shots for well developed characters played by seasoned professionals and anchored by a strong performance by Emma Stone. Stone pays Olive, a largely unnoticed high schooler that spends her weekends listening to Natasha Bedingfield tunes while lounging around the house. Lying to her best friend with an overtly active libido, Rhiannon »
- John Fink
400 Screens, 400 Blows is a weekly column that takes an in-depth look at the films playing below the radar, beneath the top ten, and on 400 screens or less.
Todd Solondz's sixth feature film, Life During Wartime (14 screens), opened in theaters a few weeks ago. I've heard some people hailing it as his best film, but it has barely made much of a ripple in the big movie pond. His second feature, Welcome to the Dollhouse (1996), had Siskel & Ebert buzzing, and his third, Happiness (1998), had everyone buzzing. And his last film, Palindromes (2004), at least had the power to piss off some people. I'm not sure what Todd has to do to get himself noticed these days, but apparently making a good film just isn't enough.
Filed under: Columns, 400 Screens, 400 Blows
Continue reading 400 Screens, 400 Blows - The Good 'Life'
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- Jeffrey M. Anderson
In the film, friends, family and lovers struggle to find love, forgiveness, and meaning in a war-torn world riddled with comedy and pathos.
"...Part sequel, part variation on his acclaimed and controversial 'Happiness', the newest film from celebrated director Todd Solondz ('Welcome To The Dollhouse') assembles an ensemble cast including Allison Janney, Shirley Henderson, Paul Reubens, Michael Kenneth Williams, Ally Sheedy, Charlotte Rampling and Ciáran Hinds in a hilarious exploration of the boundaries of forgiveness, family, and love.
"...Ten years have passed since shocking revelations shattered the world of the Jordan family, and now sisters 'Joy' (Henderson), 'Trish' (Janney) and 'Helen' (Sheedy), each embroiled in their own unique dilemmas, struggle to find their place in an unpredictable and volatile world. The »
- Michael Stevens
This week's big news is that Landmark is closing the legendary Dobie Theater after Sunday's shows. A lot of reminiscing has been going on, most of which is about memories predating the theater's Landmark days, back when it was an independent theater. Our own Jette was interviewed about it on News 8 Austin after her post waxing nostalgic earlier this week. Surprisingly, two new films are opening there today, and a whole lot of films opening or returning to Austin big screens.
Cairo Time -- Described on IMDb as a "A romantic drama about a brief, unexpected love affair that catches two people completely off-guard," its stars (Patricia Clarkson, Alexander Siddig) are the main attraction for me. (Dobie)
Farewell -- Looking up this French spy thriller, I was surprised to see the likes of Diane Kruger (Inglourious Basterds) as "Femme jogging" and an international cast, it makes me wonder if it's worth seeing. »
- Jenn Brown
I'm glad Todd Solondz is still making films, and that there is a place for him in the movie landscape. Even if I don't love every one of his films, I think his voice is a significant one, and when everything comes together, his work can break your heart with the force of a punch from Bruce Lee. "Life During Wartime," which I reviewed out of Toronto last year, is a sort of summation of his work, a quasi-sequel to both "Welcome To The Dollhouse" and "Happiness," and it seemed like the perfect time to finally chat with him, even if it »
- Drew McWeeny
Aug 05, 2010 If you’ve seen any of his films – Welcome to the Dollhouse, Happiness, Palindromes, Storytelling, or the new Life During Wartime – then you have probably formed an opinion about writer/director Todd Solondz. You may think he’s a deeply intellectual filmmaker and you’d be right. In person, he is one of the most in-depth interview subjects I’ve spoken to in years. You might think he’s “weird” and he’s certainly admittedly left-of-center. His speech pattern and mannerisms are unlike most people you know and it almost feels like a ...Read more at MovieRetriever.com »
Some directors burst out of the gate with fully formed visions and debuts that set Sundance aflame. Others take longer to firm up their perspectives and filmmaking identity. (And, of course, many, many others don't get going at all.) "Your Early Work" is an occasional feature in which we'll take a look at an established auteur's first movie and how it fits in with or foreshadows the ones he or she made down the line.
"Fear, Anxiety & Depression" (1989)
Directed by Todd Solondz
These days, it's almost inconceivable to picture Todd Solondz, the premiere '90s maestro of deadpan misery, putting himself front and center on screen. For Solondz to subject himself to the same unflinching (if non-judgmental) gaze he's centered on countless characters, not to mention the humiliations, awkwardness and despair which make up their day-to-day, would »
- Alison Willmore
"Exploitative," "mean-spirited" and "misanthropic" are just three of the many severe adjectives that tend to pepper discussions about the acidic work of Todd Solondz. The New Jersey-born indie filmmaker arrived on the scene in 1995 with the bitterly funny "Welcome to the Dollhouse," courted critical accolades and controversy with 1998's sharp-fanged "Happiness," and further established, with 2001's "Storytelling" and 2004's "Palindromes," his status as one of American cinema's most idiosyncratic voices.
This week, he returns to theaters with "Life During Wartime," a featured selection at 2009's New York Film Festival which revisits the characters of "Happiness" using an all-new cast. The film's less a true follow-up than a quasi-sequel in which Solondz, employing a more melancholy, elegiac tone, twists and bends his familiar characters in new and unexpected ways. It's a meditation on man's capacity for change and forgiveness, defined by the director's trademark blend of the caustic and the compassionate. »
- Nick Schager
The critically acclaimed independent director discusses his latest film
Director Todd Solondz is best known to audiences for making dark, thought-provoking, socially conscious, satirical independent films such as Welcome to the Dollhouse and Happiness. Now the director returns to the genre he knows so well with his latest film, Life During Wartime opening on July 23rd, which is not exactly a sequel to his previous films but does center around many of the same characters that are featured in Welcome to the Dollhouse and Happiness, with different actors playing those roles. We recently had a chance to speak with director Todd Solondz about his new film, its connection to his past films, the cast and what's next for the talented director. Here is what he had to say:
Five things you must not miss this week, including a new album from The Books, Todd Solondz’s Life During Wartime, and, of course, Mad Men. MUSICThe Way Out, The Books The Books’ latest album continues a path they’ve carved for themselves for almost a decade, one that straddles the line between music-nerd obscurity and NPR-world approval. Their distinct sound — a collage of folk melodies, voice samples, and bleepy electronic music — is simultaneously interesting and inoffensive, a trait that inspired the French Minister of Culture to commission the band to compose music for his building's elevator. So there you have it: a band for arty bureaucrats and art-school kids alike. July 20 MOVIESLife During Wartime, Todd Solondz The darkly comic Welcome to the Dollhouse put Todd Solondz on the map, and his next movie, Happiness, kept him there. But [...] »
- Ray Rahman
Todd Solondz's Life During Wartime is set for a limited theatrical release later this month -- and to help get everyone prepared for the filmmaker's latest journey into uncomfortably hilarious family drama, we've got a new, exclusive clip of the film to show you after the jump.
A sequel to the filmmaker's 1998 cult classic black comedy Happiness, Life During Wartime finds all your favorite characters from that film back on the screen -- only played by different actors. The new film picks up years after the end of Happiness and follows the same three sisters (this time out played by Allison Janney, Ally Sheedy, and Shirley Henderson) as they live their undeniably strange lives. There's more pedophile humor, plus ghosts, suicide, and Paul Reubens -- sounds like a recipe for laughter to me!
The clip for the film features a scene that's typical of Solondz's work. Reubens is sitting »
- Alison Nastasi
"I like to manipulate and play with the audience," admits filmmaker Todd Solondz, "but at the same time, I couldn't do this if it didn't have emotional weight for me." Indeed, from his 1995 breakthrough "Welcome to the Dollhouse" to his latest "Life During Wartime" (which opens next Friday), Solondz's work always rides a fine line between humor and sorrow, seemingly predictable set-ups and profoundly upsetting payoffs. And it's the oscillation »
When a movie has a foreboding title like Life During Wartime, you kind of expect it to be a little dark. But that's just par for the course for Todd Solondz (Welcome to the Dollhouse). This time around, the director takes us into the lives of three sisters (played by Allison Janney, Shirley Henderson, and Ally Sheedy), as they try to escape secrets of their past and get a fresh start, preferably in Florida. Oh yeah, and it's a comedy. The trailer doesn't reveal much, other than showing the women moping about, along with a very sullen Paul Reubens who looks like he's just been crying. Someone give that man some Clear Eye. The film comes to theaters July 23, but get an early peek when you read more. »
Few modern film-makers can combine visceral thrills and intelligent substance as dextrously as Paul Greengrass. Having refined his trademark faux-vérité style through such gripping docudramas as Bloody Sunday, this astonishingly energetic director successfully infiltrated the mainstream with his action-packed Bourne sequels, giving the then-flagging Bond franchise a run for its money. Now with Green Zone he deftly dovetails the disparate strands of his career to conjure a nail-biting war movie (inspired by Rajiv Chandrasekaran's book Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone) that is big on crowd-pleasing excitement while still packing a popularist political punch.
Posted to Iraq to seek out invasion-justifying weapons of mass destruction, Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) finds only dead ends and duff information. When complaints to his superiors fall on closed ears (even the media seem to be carelessly complicit in a would-be cover-up), Miller goes off-message, discovering »
- Mark Kermode
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