Let me preface this by saying I am a huge Todd Solondz fan, ever since watching Happiness on a whimsical Blockbuster™ night, back in 2000.
I’ve been looking forward to Weiner Dog for quite a while, laughing at the trailer and excited by his casting choices.
I’ve learned what to expect from Todd Solondz, which also means giving in to the unexpected.
Last night, as the film unfolded, my mind filled with negativity:
“What awful parenting”
“What a pathetic and resgined outlook on the world”
“All of these people are so fucked up!”
I almost convinced myself that the absurdity was beyond believable – a sort of dark fairy tale that serves to teach lessons instead of reflect reality.
I’m not sure that is true.
My favorite films are those that you can’t shake, that get under your skin and make you think. When I watched Happiness, I remember it took me weeks to recover.
I am sensitive (thanks Mom!), which can be frustrating when taken advantage of, but overall I consider an advantage. I can feel all kinds of things, empathy is important.
After watching Weiner Dog, the main thought I had was “Damn that was bleak.”
Well, of course it was, I knew that going in.
When I got home, I realized there was a lot to process still. I had this sort of deep anxiety fluttering inside me (I still do).
The knowledge of solitude was crystal clear, that we are all destined to death, that our lives are fleeting, slipping through our fingers like sand. I am ultimately alone, but if I don’t struggle to connect, isolation will only suffocate society.
I know this stuff, of course, but to feel it, in my guts, is a rare treat.
Once again, I went in knowing what to expect, faced the film with a bit of distance and pessimism, and it still crept into my heart.
I’ve seen a few reviews brush it off as another piece of Solondz style malaise, hinting that maybe the guy should get a new schtick or find something fresh to talk about. I completely disagree!
I think we need more art like this, more films that explore the trenches of fucked up humanity and try to do so in a genuine but humorous way. I did laugh during the film.
What we need more of is people willing to take these things in, to let this bleakness disturb us, and push us to find our own goodness and live better lives.
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 Solondz doesn’t seem to enjoy the process. But there is value in being torn up by dark truths and putting yourself back together. I appreciate his work. I feel kind of weak and morose today, but I know on the other side is a better me.
Most of the hardest work we do on ourselves involves facing the things we are running from. Solondz always finds a way to brings those up, inside of me, and for that I am thankful.
Worth it every time.
If you haven’t ventured into Solondz territory yet, I recommend Happines, Welcome to the Dollhouse, and then Palindromes. The rest are equally absurd and fantastic, but I think those three, in that order, capture some profound ugliness and humanity worth exploring.
Thanks buddy. Until next time.