July 30, 2010 |
Todd Solondz is a shock jock of a filmmaker, a writer-director who always keeps a glass of cold water for throwing at the audience handy. Which almost but not quite prepares you for "Life During Wartime," his latest sharp-edged comic tragedy about families, forgiveness and the unsettling ironies that can threaten to unravel even an ordinary life. The film, a taut and tantalizing mix of salty bites and lazy blanks, stars Shirley Henderson, Allison Janney and Ally Sheedy as the latter-day Jordan sisters Joy, Trish and Helen, respectively, that Solondz first introduced in the uneasy brilliance of 1998's "Happiness."
July 29, 2010 |
Directors don't normally travel with theme music, but as Todd Solondz walks in the door, the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" comes over the house stereo. It's a fitting bit of serendipity, given that Solondz's films are rich in explorations of the dark side of human nature. Or, as his critics would have it, he's a misanthrope, creating miserable, pathetic characters and then driving them further into the depths of despair. "Americans are so in love with redemption," he says a bit later, toying with a forkful of pasta.
April 14, 2005 |
There is simply something strange about seeing Todd Solondz in the sun-drenched environs of a Southern California beachside resort. The New York-based filmmaker, writer and director of the films "Welcome to the Dollhouse," "Happiness" and "Storytelling" -- all set on the East Coast -- was in Los Angeles for a few days of screenings and Q&As for his latest film, "Palindromes."
March 24, 2002 |
In Los Angeles, script reading can be a badge of honor, a sign of position. "Don't bother Mommy now, she's reading scripts." The little tyke is expected to back off, knowing there's no appeal. Mommy's mired in her "weekend read," plowing through scripts of unproduced movies. It means Mommy's important. Now another kind of script is gaining a new popularity: the published versions of movies already made and in some cases even playing at the multiplex.
January 25, 2002 |
With "Storytelling," Todd Solondz continues his acidly funny exploration of the darker side of life in the suburbs of New Jersey that began with "Welcome to the Dollhouse" (1996) and "Happiness" (1998). This time he also probes the ambiguous, paradoxical nature of filmmaking in its relationship to fictional and documental narrative. Solondz contemplates the awesome capacities of the motion picture camera, which can exploit and distort the reality that it can record or simulate with precision.
January 13, 2002 |
"People who are right are never confident, never well loved, never well liked." Writer-director Todd Solondz is smiling as he says this. He is delivering the bad news to a crew member that tonight's shoot, already late, may run even later (it's now past midnight). It's a weirdly penetrating remark, but then, on the face of it, Solondz is a weird guy.