Friday, August 08, 2008

Auteur Watch - Todd Solondz

Oh look at me! Not entering in the text like I used to. Pre-digesting blog entries, so sad. No good excuse for it.

Anyway, I've been neglecting this feature of mine for a while now, the Auteur Watch, but I'm all ripped and rarin' to go. Now, I was going to tear K. Smith a new one for Zack and Miri make a you-know-what, but to me that's old news. It'll bomb soon enough as it is, and so, like Weird Al moving on from the same old Michael Jackson parodies, it is time to wander into the Auteur forest for a virtual 40 years, because lemme tell ya, it's a big forest, folks. Trust me. Lotta hungry people out there waiting to direct their next film. Take Todd Solondz, for example. Now, in looking back on his career, I think we can all agree that his favourite decade would have to be the go-go 90s, quite a time for films like his. He was at the apex of critical and audience buzz with Welcome to the Dollhouse, and these were in the days when Sundance was the only indie film festival, so you HAD to be good. Yes, no longer a player in bit parts such as the Zany Reporter in Married to the Mob, he was now in the big ol' director's chair on the giant lift that goes up and down WHEN HE SAYS SO. With all this cinematic political capital saved up, his next flick was Happiness (1998), and he took the opposite approach to Baseketball with this one, saying HIMSELF in an interview that well, you can just choose not to see it if you want, instead of saying that if you don't get the joke, you're just a humorless right-wing Christian. I applaud him with one hand clapping for that. But he weathered the storm, and big-time indie producer James Schamus and his company called Good Machine stood by Mr. Solondz until his next feature in 2001, Storytelling. Shorter, wiser, but no less controversial, I guess. Nuff said.

And in keeping with his new-found 3 year gestation period he managed to crank out his 2004 masterpiece, Palindromes. Some of the critics loved it, others not, while more importantly, others like those wise-asses over at the Onion were noticing the trend and slapping on dirty labels like ... oh, I don't know, things like "Oh, here we go again with another Todd Solondz picture, full of his unique brand of awkwardness and awfulness." Those kinds of things that you don't want people to think about. And yet, everyone goes gaga for I'm Not There. What an unfair universe we live in. And so, he missed his next 3 year mark with no film in 2007, and nothing scheduled in the near future! You're not Martin Brest here, fella! Or Terrence Malick. Gotta keep busy now.

And from there it just gets worse. Apparently he used his own money to finance Palindromes, and it's always a bad sign when it says on the internet that your "life savings" was used to do it. Well, we can't all be Jennifer Fox over here. So what does the future hold for provocateur extraordinaire Todd Solondz? Well, he did get a mention in an Onion article about the top 20 director provocateurs, so maybe someone will jump to his financial aid, and he can do a follow-up to Storytelling. I suggest calling it something like "Redemption" or "Back from the Brink". Meantime, guess you'd better have a pint with some of the others trapped in Auteur Purgatory, like Bill Forsyth and Pat O'Connor and Martin Brest and Whit Stillman ... oh, wait, not Whit Stillman. He just jumped on that Christopher Buclkey Gravy Train. Good for you, Yuppie Trilogy Sellout!

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