Tag Archives: Gerwig


7 Jul

Todd Solondz’s films have always been about the quiet struggles in dark corners. His 1989 debut, Fear, Anxiety, and Depression,pretty much tells you that in the title, but it was his sophomore effort, 1995’s Welcome to the Dollhouse, a coming-of-age tale down all the wrong paths, that cemented that notion and branded Solondz an indie auteur to watch for.

Solondz’s latest, Wiener-Dog, is a sequel of sorts to Dollhouse as that film’s protagonist, Dawn Wiener, is one of several owners of the film’s titular dachshund. This is not the first mention of Dawn in Solondz’ cinematic universe; her name also popped up in the director’s 2004 flick Palindromes, which featured the travails of her cousin Aviva played by seven actors of varying race, age and gender. Sadly, it was revealed early on in Palindromes that Dawn had committed suicide. With Wiener-Dog, it’s unknown if Solondz has had a change of heart or if this film take places before Dawn’s death. Either way, Dawn “Wiener Dog” Wiener is back, with Greta Gerwig taking over for Dollhouse‘s Heather Matarazzo.

In Solondz’s latest, the titular pup evokes, much in the same way the onerous ass does in Robert Bresson’s timeless classicAu Hasard, Balthazar (1966), the true nature of its handlers. Just how humane are they behind closed doors with no one but the dog as a mute witness. But unlike Au Hasard, Balthazar‘s donkey, Christ-like and in ways, more human than the people around it, Wiener-Dog is just a furry prop, however sad and vulnerable, that is passed from one set of hands to the next to elicit the truthful testimony of Solondz’s troubled souls. Continue reading

Wiener-Dog, Todd Solondz Interview

7 Jul

‘Wiener-Dog’ — A Comedy Of Despair About Mortality And A Dachshund

A still from Todd Solondz's latest film "Wiener-Dog." (Courtesy IFC Films)closemore

Indie auteur Todd Solondz, whose latest dark comedy “Wiener-Dog” opens Friday, has always made films his way — on his own terms — plumbing moral and ethical realms that would make most cringe. If he sounds like something of a maverick or self-starter, on paper he is, but in the flesh he casts a very different image.

To begin with, Solondz, who cites Andy Warhol and John Waters as influences, is a mild reflective sort and willing to collaborate for the sake of art. He’s quite humble too. After eight features he points out, “I am very fortunate I am still able to get films made,” referring to the struggle many directors face trying to garner enough funding to make independent film.  Continue reading

Maggie’s Plan

5 Jun

Rebecca Miller, who’s always been able to woo a talented cast (being the daughter of “Death of a Salesman” playwright Arthur and wife of Daniel Day-Lewis can have that effect), wades into Woody Allen territory with this acerbic, yet not quite fully formed, rom-com that could easily be a sequel to “Frances Ha” or the next chapter in Richard Linklater’s “Before” series. Part of that has to do with the fact it stars Ms. Ha herself, Greta Gerwig, and longtime Linklater collaborator Ethan Hawke, but more to the point, there’s ceaseless banter from quirky personas kvetching about their fragile self-esteem and station in life (which happens to be far better than the vast majority of their fellow Americans).

060316i Maggie's PlanThe basis of the film is an unpublished novel by Karen Rinaldi, who must be a friend of Miller’s. Or perhaps the project began as a fragile conversation at a cocktail party and took root once the financial backing got the green light. After sitting through the visual adaptation, I can only imagine that the final pieces of Rinaldi’s complicated love triangle among intellects never quite got cemented – thus its in-limbo status. Miller, who adapted the story as well as directs, is clearly all in and seems more comfortable behind the camera than with earlier efforts “Personal Velocity” (2002) and “The Ballad of Jack and Rose” (2005).  Continue reading