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Todd Solondz Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (2)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Trade Mark (3)  | Trivia (6)  | Personal Quotes (15)

Overview (2)

Born in Newark, New Jersey, USA
Height 5' 7" (1.7 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Todd Solondz was born in Newark, New Jersey. One of his earliest jobs in the film industry was when, as a young man, he worked as a messenger for the Writers' Guild of America. During this time, he wrote several screenplays.

Solondz's first color film with sync sound was the short "Schatt's Last Shot" (1985). Solondz played a high schooler who wants to get into Stanford, but cannot because his sadistic gym teacher fails him. He also has no luck seducing the girl he desires. It was a student film, and is still screened at NYU, where Solondz made it.

Solondz's first feature was Fear, Anxiety & Depression (1989), a piece about a writer (Solondz) writing a play and sending it to Samuel Beckett.

Solondz found great critical acclaim with his second feature, Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995), a film about the cruelty of junior high school, parents, adult figures, and suburban life. The film won awards at Sundance, Berlin, and countless other festivals for its cruel realism, bitter humor, and unflinching portrayal of adolescence.

His third feature effort, Happiness (1998), was a wildly edgy and provocative film. The film revolves around a group of people who are miserable in their conventional lifestyles and pursue happiness in various forms of perverse sexuality. It featured a murderer, a rapist, a pedophile, and a man who harasses others with sexually obscene phone calls The film incited major controversy and was dropped by its original distributor, only to be picked up by another company. One of the particularly controversial aspects of the film was the element of the child psychologist as a repressed pedophile. In the film, he molests his son's friend at a sleep-over; but the character was sympathetic and deftly presented. Once again, the film was lauded with numerous awards and strong critical praise.

Solondz made it clear he was not softening up with his next effort, Storytelling (2001), which was about the artistic process. The film is divided into two halves, "Fiction" and "Non-Fiction." "Fiction" centers on a character in a creative-writing class, and "Non- Fiction" on a desperate filmmaker making a documentary about a depressed, listless, unmotivated teenager. "Fiction" concerns how fictional stories can be used to distort rather than illuminate reality, which is displayed via the exploits of the protagonist, a college student in a creative writing class. The film was in danger of being rated NC-17due to a racially charged sex scene. Solondz's response to the threat of the NC-17 was quite clever (and a bit tongue-in-cheek). Instead of trimming the scene, he simply blocked the image of the copulation with a large orange box. The film got an R rating. "Nonfiction" was loaded with social commentary. Topics covered in this part included a listless teenager and his overbearing family, homosexuality's current parallels to the scarlet letter, drug use, gun control in the home, and one's capability to murder.

Solondz's next film was Palindromes (2004), which was also controversial, due to the fact that the protagonist was played by eight people of differing size, race, and gender.

Solondz has established himself as a consistently engaging and unique filmmaker, as opposed to just one more cookie-cutter conformist director making his movies on the Hollywood assembly line. He is a real writer and filmmaker, agent provocateur, and a force with which to be reckoned.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

Trade Mark (3)

All his movies involve Livingston, New Jersey, in some way
Realistic, twisted characters
Black comedy involving social satire and exploration of deviance.

Trivia (6)

Solondz went to Yale University, graduating in 1981.
He worked as a messenger for the Writers Guild.
He accepted a job as a teacher of English as a second language to newly arrived Russian immigrants, an experience he has described as deeply rewarding.
He spent his entire life savings on making Palindromes (2004) because no studio would back it.
His favorite writers include Philip Roth, Michel Houellebecq, and David Sedaris.
He initially gave up on his film career after negative experiences making Fear, Anxiety & Depression (1989) but a friend convinced him to give it another try.

Personal Quotes (15)

In American films, this period of life is not treated seriously. You have either the cute and cuddly Disney kid or the evil devil monster. For me it's fertile territory - middle class kids growing up in the suburbs.
(On his movie "Happiness"): "It's not for everyone and it's not designed for everyone and I don't think I'll ever write anything that's designed to appeal to everyone. If you want sympathetic characters it's easy enough to do, you just give someone cancer and of course we'll all feel horribly sad and sorry. You make anyone a victim and people feel that way. But that's not of interest to me as a filmmaker or as a writer. I may be accused of a certain kind of misanthropy but I think I could argue the opposite. I think that it's only by acknowledging the flaws, the foibles, the failings and so forth of who we are that we can in fact fully embrace the all of who we are. People say I'm cruel or that the film's cruel, but I think rather it exposes the cruelty and I think that certainly the capacity for cruelty is the most difficult, the most painful thing for any of us to acknowledge. That we are at all capable. And yet I think that it exists as much as the capacity for kindness and it's only the best of us that are able to suppress, sublimate, re-channel and so forth these baser instincts, but I see them to some degree at play as a regular part of life in very subtle ways and not so subtle ways. I don't think that after the seventh grade that these impulses evaporate. So from my perspective I'm trying to be honest with what I see and what I've experienced and what I believe is true to our nature."
There's good laughter and bad laughter. As long as they're not laughing at the expense of any of these characters, it's OK. My films are comedies, but they're sad comedies and this is the saddest of all.
I don't have children but if I did and my child wanted to act, I'd be fine with him acting in my movie where I feel a certain dignity is accorded. But I would never let my child act in a commercial for the Gap or Banana Republic or for some other consumer goods corporation. That would be the obscenity.
To be an abortionist today in the States is, to my mind, very heroic. Who wants to put their lives on the line? You get assassinated, there are bombs in the clinics. There are so many other easier ways to make a living. You put yourself in a very vulnerable place if you do choose that calling.
Some people will of course accuse me of misanthropy and cynicism. I can't celebrate humanity but I'm not out to indict it either. I just want to expose certain truths.
I'm just unfortunate that I have this job I hate, I suppose. I keep thinking I've got to find a new career and maybe I will. But for now, this is all I've got. I haven't found a good alternative yet.
Even talking about the nature of this war, and Iraq and the Middle East, it's very difficult even to have a conversation. Anything that veers away from the official line, there's a hysteria that pops in.
I saw Vera Drake and Mike Leigh is a masterful filmmaker. I think it's indisputable. He works with actors like no one else. It's beautifully shot and beautifully played. And yet at the same time, I just want to scream! I say, would it have been a sin for her to take money for a job well done? Does she have to be sanctified? I can't take it, just how all the liberals, we all go in to see the movie and in a sense it turns us all into martyrs for the good fight. But it's clearly not an examination of the ethical nature and so forth, it's just a given that this is the good fight and we are martyrs for this cause. There's another movie, a lovely film, wonderfully directed, Maria Full of Grace. There's a scene in the movie where you have this 17-year-old pregnant girl in Queens and she sees Women's Health Services, and she goes there. What's the purpose of the scene? All it does is tell us that the baby is okay. I just want to scream! She stays in American, 17, pregnant, no money, no friends, doesn't speak the language. I mean, really, the only thing she's equipped to do is be a prostitute. To me, it's just the falseness of that stay-on-in-America, land-of-hope and so forth, the falseness just makes me want to scream. It's faux-liberal, in fact. I guess it's just being patted on the back, being told, 'You're doing the right thing.' There's no questioning. There's no examination. There's no stopping to think.
There aren't any other countries in the world where they kill abortionists and bomb clinics. To be an abortionist in the United States is like to be a fireman or a policeman, to take on a heroic profession, but of course, it puts your life on the line. Regardless of one's political convictions, you have to respect the integrity of someone who is willing to risk his life to perform this kind of procedure. You can make a good living doing other sorts of procedures.
My movies aren't for everyone, especially people who like them.
One of the lessons that I tell my students is: You want to make a film only YOU could make, but NOT only you can sit through.
[on Wiener-Dog (2016)] On one end of the spectrum is Au Hasard Balthazar (1966) and on the other is Benji (1974). In between the two this movie lies. [2016]
[on Wiener-Dog (2016)] I teach Monday mornings. I love it. I have a great time. I love teaching the students, working with them. They're like little puzzles. Trying to help them figure out their own solutions. [2016]
[on Wiener-Dog (2016)] I do love going to the movies. I don't watch them otherwise unless it's homework. I don't like to watch them on TV or the computer. I like to watch them in the movie theater. Many years ago when they invented the DVR you could record all these great movies and you'd have all these great movies recorded, but it would feel like homework to watch them. I like to go out to see movies on a big screen in a dark room. I like having an audience. That's what movies are for me. [2016]

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