Todd Solondz

Welcome to the Dollhouse

Dawn Wiener is dead, long live Dawn Wiener! Todd Solondz‘s second feature film, Welcome to the Dollhouse, is hailed as the filmmaker’s big breakthrough — a bold, gross, weird and uncomfortably honest look at one awkward tween’s coming-of-age in nineties New Jersey. The film starred Heather Matarazzo as Dawn “Wiener Dog” Wiener, an outcast desperate to fit in with her bone-headed peers, her terrible family and a classmate who repeatedly attempts to rape her. As is Solondz’s signature, the film is admirable and unique, even if you feel like you need a shower after watching it. The Hollywood Reporter now reports that Solondz is “sort of” working a sequel to the 1995 Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning feature film, as the filmmaker is currently casting for Wiener-Dog, billed as “an ensemble indie that is tied together thematically by a dachshund.” Moreover, “the script tells several stories featuring people who find their life inspired or changed by one particular dachshund, who seems to be spreading comfort and joy.” Of course, anyone who is familiar with Solondz likely won’t think, “oh, yes, a dog” when they hear “wiener-dog,” they’ll think of Dawn Wiener, and they won’t be wrong, because one of the new film’s stories will indeed be about Dawn Wiener. Wait. How does that work?

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Dark Horse Movie 2012

The parallel is too easy, but Todd Solondz‘s Dark Horse really is a Dark Horse. Not only does the main character, Abe (Jordan Gelber), take some time to get any empathy, the movie itself isn’t exactly an instant winner. The reason is clear: so much of it is tied directly to a curly hair-chested baby of a man who drives a yellow hummer and doesn’t understand anything except his own victimhood. With only ten minutes under its belt, it’s difficult to see falling in love with it. That’s where the saying about books and covers comes in. Almost any other director might struggle to avoid making a movie focused on Abe into a chore, but Todd Solondz is most comfortable when he’s most uncomfortable, and the result is a drama that is singed with comic moments that belong in a therapist’s waiting room.

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As Todd Solondz explains, Dark Horse is a different kind of take on the Judd Apatow celebration of the Manchild. It’s a bit more aggressive, a lot more realistic, and complex in the way that fans have come to expect from the director of Welcome to the Dollhouse and Palindromes. Set beyond cheerful pop music, the film follows Jordan Gelber, looking a lot like Jeff Garlin, as he attempts to navigate what he views as a cruel, unfair world in the yellow hummer his parents bought for him. He discovers something like love with the depressed Miranda (a differently-named character reprised by Selma Blair from Storytelling), and he struggles (often hilariously) to understand a world shifting around him. Fortunately, Solondz took some time out to discuss his take on later-life childhood, how to respond to fans who laugh at child-rape, and how the indie filmmaking world has changed since the 1990s. Download Episode #135

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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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published: 12.12.2014
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