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Happiness, sigh. [Apr. 9th, 2004|03:15 am]
[In the Moment |lethargiclethargic]
[Special Music |World's smallest violin, playing for Solondz.]

Man, what do you get when you have a director's cut film length of 140 minutes, a family of Larry David-ian proportions without the laughs, a kleptomaniac cab driver from Russia, a perverted-crank-caller who can't muster up the strength to talk to women, a father/pedophile/Doc couch-listener, an overweight neighbor who kills a doorman after she's raped by him, a Jon Lovitz character who commits suicide, and a dog that unknowingly laps up a child's first ejaculation?

You have a Solondz film.


News flash, Solondz:

"Large modern world does not need to be horrified and educated that life can be awful!"

Trust me, life works out that way. Those that don't see the runny-snot side of life, well, why tell them about it?

The film is as hollow as Lara Flynn Boyle's character's poems. Which, actually, is ironic, and my only laugh.

So, it's a mix of poorly-executed dark, and it's not funny.

Redemption is at hand!

Try watching the movie, I Love You to Death, starring Kevin Kline and Tracy Ullman.


That movie is based on a real-life event.

Also, River Phoenix's death qualifies as a tragic story better than what Solondz's imagination can invent. On Halloween, 1993, Phoenix went to The Viper Room in Los Angeles, took a touch too much, and died of a drug overdose. Talk about sad, disturbing, and tragic, Solondz . . . shit, that's pretty sad.

Oh good Lord, I'm turning into a critic. My momma warned me about being negative.

It's all Austin Powers's fault!!! Err, the Devil made me do it!!!!

Um, yeeeeahhh.

[User Picture]From: renazle_dazzle
2004-04-09 08:55 am (UTC)

I actually disagree with you about a movie!

You forgot to mention the mom letting the dog lick her face/lips 30 secondes after the fact (She was oblivious to what the dog licked up before hand of course)
I saw happiness when I was 21. I laughed my ass off. It would have been the most offensive film I saw that year, had I not been so desensitized in the past. I just like the fact that this movie made light of such awful disgusting things.

The title alone is ironic.
I love dark morbid offensive humor. I think thats why I bought it on dvd a few months ago.

I also think thats why they are have a space reserved for me in hell.
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2004-04-09 08:48 pm (UTC)

Re: I actually disagree with you about a movie!

Fear not!

I merely point to other works with a better story that are much more worthwhile . . .

I also look at it this way . . .

Kevin Smith is a guy who is also quite long in film time. He's had his sucky films. However, Smith does some rather zany dialogue.

The characters in Smith's films, they're also much more likeable.

Not one of the characters, save maybe the little kid of the pedophile dad, was likeable. In that case, being the dunce that Solondz is, he should have told it from the kid's point of view.

The dialogue is horrible. The visuals hold back on me too, so that is what got to me the most.

No biggie though . . . there's a particular experimental film, Timecode, that I love. Most people don't like it. I find the stroke of genius in having four panels that one can switch in focus . . .

I'm usually noticing something new when I play that film.
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2004-04-09 11:32 pm (UTC)

I sometimes disagree with myself when thinking.

Okay, here's some more re-constructed thoughts on Solondz's Happiness.

I liked Kids . . .


It was an interesting look at the horrors of absent parenting.

It depends on the type of disturbing, and how it's presented.

Given that I didn't like any of the characters in Kids, it's somewhat similar of an approach to Happiness.

The difference lies in the presentation. Of course these kids are horribly ignorant and quite lame. They can be quite dangerous as well. The commentary is more important . . . "Look what happens to your kids if you don't take time to be there for them!"

Of course, that's total bullshit if totally believed. Not every kid who has parents who are merely backstage members of their lives will become a horrible sex-fiend, drug-abusing, menacingly-awful teenager.

In that case, it's like the absurdity of Reefer Madness.

However, the style of presentation in the film is quite interesting. I can't remember the actual details, blow-by-blow, but it had a better delivery of the events than Happiness did.

What burns me about Happiness is the time taken with some of the characters. Little is resolved by the end of the film. The mousy girl is still mousy and very much the sucker. The artistic and hollow nympho is still very artistic and hollow and a nympho. The mother of the pedophile's children is still the mother, and she hasn't changed one bit.

The dad showed a little change . . . he realized that he felt nothing, and that his life was very numb. Yet, he didn't do anything about that. He's at the end of the film, still quite entrenched in his family of dysfunctional love.

The dad's wife, the matriarch, she's still the same, pretty much. She didn't run over the suspected and then-mistress of her husband. She did nothing important.

Nothing happened. In all, it's a pretty sad piece of story-telling. I disagree with life being a series of bad to worse situations, but that's beside the point.

My dislike of Happiness is less to do with the shocking nature of the pedophile-dad of the one daughter of the family . . . that's fine . . . in fact, if the story centers around that kid of his, it's a great story . . . an interesting story worth development.

In the Bedroom with Sissy Spacek, that's actually an interesting story because of the aftermath of the destructive event that takes place near the beginning of the film.

My comparison of Solondz in less-quality story-telling to that of Kevin Smith is telling . . . Smith suffers from the long-winding nature, but again, his characters, whilst somewhat disturbing, they are generally much more likeable.

I dunno if the words are making any sense, but I know I've seen better disturbing and more of it elsewhere.

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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2004-04-09 11:47 pm (UTC)

Collection of better disturbing films . . .

As they appear from the ether of my mind.

Requiem for a Dream - http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0180093/

Marvelous tale of the characters who fall worse into addiction. Quite disturbing for me generally is the close-ups of needles. The infection near the end is quite gross.

Naked Lunch - http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0102511/

Insanity of a junkie's collected words from the direct subconscious in the conscious. This film is much harder to accomplish successfully from Burrough's novel, in comparison, than Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas from HST's book.

The film inspired me to go and read the book, which was a much deeper foray into total madness.

Sadly, Burrough's important work is so scattered that it is nearly impossible to translate into a blockbuster film yarn. Yet, it was rather disturbing and quite good, both the film and the book even more so.

Timecode - http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0220100/

Given the general attention span of the general population, this style of film-making will probably never become vogue, unless our society is witness to an advancement in our genetic stock.

What I mean by that is . . . if suddenly, the new generation of children are much more brilliant and powerful in mind than ever before, in a larger concentration . . . they may really appreciate this film.

In that reality, Figgis would be the Einstein of film.

Otherwise, it's generally wasted on the large mass of folks as-is.

Figgis is responsible for the magnificent Leaving Las Vegas, also a rather disturbing film that treats the final degeneration of an alcoholic. That's a personal favorite of mine, and so is Timecode.

The replay value of Timecode is rather immense, as there are four-screens of real-time action.

Just a few that captured me with more of an impression than Happiness . . .

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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2004-04-10 12:01 am (UTC)

Re: Collection of better disturbing films . . .

The acting in Timecode is fair, at best, and sometimes poor.

With four running cameras and no edits, it's to be expected. Timecode is more of an experimental film than a regular one.

The humor in Happiness didn't make me laugh . . . I don't know why.
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2004-04-10 01:56 am (UTC)

Our disagreement I suppose is not so much of a disagreement, I'd wager.

I guess that I wouldn't totally poo-poo Happiness. After all, as you mentioned in more detail, that final scene did bring a small bit of amusement.

I would, however, wish that Solondz spend some more time in school or study, so that Solondz could write better material.

This could have been so much better some other way. He had a pretty good cast too, which makes me wonder why this film was so poorly-conceived in story.
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[User Picture]From: renazle_dazzle
2004-04-10 02:12 am (UTC)

Re: I actually disagree with you about a movie!

I think the fact that the characters weren't likeable made it better for me. Because I just laughed everytime something bad happened.
The beginning when Jon Lovitz cusses out the youbgest daughter was so great.
And I love when the dirty shrink is in the park shooting everybody.
I really hated the pediophiles wife. She was alway rubbing it in that she was better because she got married and popped out some babies. Then when her husband is arrested, it really shut her up.

Did you like Welcome to the doll house? or fear anxiety and depression, or story telling?

Welcome to the dollhouse is my favorite.

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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2004-04-10 02:59 am (UTC)

Re: I actually disagree with you about a movie!

I haven't watched Dollhouse!

It sounds like I may have to do so . . . however, maybe Solondz's Happiness wasn't the greatest of first choices of his work.

As always, I remain an open mind.
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2004-04-09 11:13 pm (UTC)

You know, disagreements are never a bad thing with me.

I don't mind at all if someone disagrees with me, especially if they post reasons why they disagree.

Considering that I'm passing some time now, you'll have to forgive the long and wordy responses.

We aren't dissimilar in our enjoyment of the disturbing and the morbid and the humor.

The phenomenon of desensitization has little to do with being abnormal.

For instance, if one were to not be affected by violence in their midst, I'd be concerned, in the sense that the reality of violence, whether it's caused or witnessed or experienced, that is much greater than anything viewed on the TV set.

Also, in terms of oddball films, I do love them generally. Again, I'm probably going to post quite a few words, since I'm in a loving mood at this moment, and it has nothing to do with arguing a case against Happiness . . . just a simple request for all to bear with me, for a revealing look into the mind of Sauce is to follow.
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[User Picture]From: kerrykate
2004-04-09 12:45 pm (UTC)
I love this film and havent seen it for years.. thanks for reminding me about it *adding it to Netflix Queue*
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2004-04-09 08:50 pm (UTC)

If anything, when I get negative, the reminders are always a good sign.
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