Wiener-Dog (Todd Solondz, 2016)

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worriedfire
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Re: Trailers for Upcoming Films

#2 Post by worriedfire » Thu May 26, 2016 1:24 pm

Wiener-Dog by Todd Solondz just got a trailer.

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CSM126
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Re: Criterion and Sony

#3 Post by CSM126 » Thu Jun 30, 2016 7:26 pm

swo17 wrote:Welcome to the Dollhouse
I'm guessing this and it's semi-sequel Wiener-Dog (an IFC title) will make for back-to-back spines sometime next year.

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swo17
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Re: Wiener-Dog (Todd Solondz, 2016)

#4 Post by swo17 » Mon Aug 29, 2016 12:42 pm

I don't know if this means anything but The Criterion Collection is given a special thanks in the credits of this film...

This isn't going to win Solondz any new fans, but it's kind of amazing--his most focused and subtly biting film. Note how the couple in the film's first section explain to their son that instead of God they believe in love and compassion, but never display anything remotely resembling these virtues. Or how Burstyn's character gives generously (though dispassionately) to her daughter and yet feels haunted by her selfishness. And then in between, Solondz has fun reliving old characters as well as his film school experience. A+

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The Narrator Returns
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Re: Wiener-Dog (Todd Solondz, 2016)

#5 Post by The Narrator Returns » Mon Aug 29, 2016 1:16 pm

I hope it means something, otherwise we're stuck with a burned Amazon-exclusive Blu-Ray as the only way to watch this on home video.

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swo17
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Re: Wiener-Dog (Todd Solondz, 2016)

#6 Post by swo17 » Mon Aug 29, 2016 1:22 pm

Nice that the only place you can access it is one where 62%(!) of users give it the lowest rating possible, with many naming their review as some variant of "Worst movie of my life."

I did say this wouldn't be winning him any new fans!

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D50
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Re: Wiener-Dog (Todd Solondz, 2016)

#7 Post by D50 » Tue Aug 30, 2016 8:44 am

The kid in the first one is introduced in a Boyhood-like pose,
SpoilerShow
...until the take gets longer, and you wonder if he's alive. And his conversations with Julie Delpy were hilarious - the first one comparing being spayed to getting your teeth cleaned, and the second describing cremation - like being put in an oven.

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Re: Wiener-Dog (Todd Solondz, 2016)

#8 Post by Rupert Pupkin » Tue Aug 30, 2016 2:26 pm

This is a kind Todd Solondz's "Au Hasard Balthazar". I'm not a big fan of all of this movies, but I was really into this dark humor and some scenes (I like the first part with Julie Delpy (to the post above by D50
SpoilerShow
the story of the dog named "Mohamed" is also priceless- And I love this instant (unique?) moment of happiness with the pillows in slow motion
-and this superb traveling with Wiener-Dog's dinner (gorgeous photography by Ed Lachman). I love Danny Devito's part, and there's even a memorable tribute to " The Hurt Locker". Really, une vraie vie de chien... Cruel but fair like Waters said in a concert in L.A in 1975. And there's even a scene with the infamous "Postal" video game.
such a great cast - I forgot to mention Ellen Burstyn (I knew the young girl from the series Girls), Greta Gerwig is lovely as always, but she plays again another Frances Ha variation (and a sweet cute one)
Oh and for a movie that lasts not much more than 1h30 there's even an irresistible intermission...
This could have been a very good choice for Todd Solondz Criterion.

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MoonlitKnight
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Re: Wiener-Dog (Todd Solondz, 2016)

#9 Post by MoonlitKnight » Thu Nov 24, 2016 8:17 am

I'm really not sure what to think of Solondz anymore. This is probably his best effort since "Storytelling," but it's still pretty uneven. Maybe another viewing would help.

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dustybooks
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Re: Wiener-Dog (Todd Solondz, 2016)

#10 Post by dustybooks » Thu Mar 16, 2017 12:44 am

swo17 wrote:Note how the couple in the film's first section explain to their son that instead of God they believe in love and compassion, but never display anything remotely resembling these virtues. Or how Burstyn's character gives generously (though dispassionately) to her daughter and yet feels haunted by her selfishness.
This is a stellar observation that really influenced my reading of this, fwiw.

As usual with Solondz, I found myself almost breathlessly excited as the credits rolled but couldn't really explain why. It's so sharp, short and elegant, and pretty effectively fuses the intense dark humor of his earlier films with the slightly more gentle and humane nature of the last two. And despite the bleak feeling it leaves you with, it's splendid that
SpoilerShow
Dawn Wiener is at last permitted to have a happy moment, even if it turns out to be fleeting.
Also, the America in his films is looking increasingly desolate. There's nothing so direct as the use of a Toys R Us as stand-in for purgatory in Dark Horse, but all the strip malls and vacant parking lots feel like an eerie reflection of a civilization's emptiness. Anyway, I feel like it's a pleasant surprise every time Solondz gets to make another seemingly uncompromised film, I only hope Annapurna supports him again in the future. (Those Amazon reviews, mentioned above, are dire.)

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mfunk9786
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Re: Wiener-Dog (Todd Solondz, 2016)

#11 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Dec 03, 2020 2:41 pm

I cannot get this film out of my mind. That it comes so far into Solondz' strange but mostly artistically successful career is fascinating for a number of reasons, chief among them that he is telling what are superficially shallow stories from a less philosophically dense, emotionally distant place than usual, and the added emotional heft to his almost manipulative form of satire only serves to amplify its strengths.

It's the things not often associated with Solondz: images, emotion, sincere and heavy morality - those are the things that I keep going back to in my mind here. Perhaps it's COVID-colored glasses, but seeing the best and very worst of our society over the past year likely helped the medicine of Wiener-Dog go down, and despite his reputation as a provocateur (and this maybe having the most "fuck you"s to the audience of anything he's made), it seems most resigned to the reality that life is hard, and the only way out is to access enough empathy to protect those who cannot protect themselves - whether that person is a child, someone with a disability, someone who is depressed, elderly, put upon, lost.. or, more importantly, a little dog who barely has any legs and even less say in where he ends up in our cultural food chain.

Put this on right after Dark Horse, and I was too focused on evaluating the two films against each other just by virtue of viewing proximity - each have their pluses and minuses - but something tells me that the moment I go back to Wiener-Dog, it will become crystal clear that this is Solondz' most fleshed out (and best) work. Already so prepared to make that pronouncement that I might as well do so now to save myself some time.

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knives
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Re: Wiener-Dog (Todd Solondz, 2016)

#12 Post by knives » Thu Dec 03, 2020 3:27 pm

I’m surprised I didn’t write this up here, but I’m with you on this film’s strange magic. For me it’s another brick of proof that Solondz's reputation focuses too much on what he shows then how, It's a hilarious film full of dark moments and a lot of diarrhea, but all of that is used to convey a message of caring and the need for acceptance as shown through honesty. All the bad in the film is born out of lies which are made to comfort people while the raw honest truth is what creates the most successful relationships such as between Culkin and his brother. I also adore the implication that our dog's final home is the one before the intermission. There’s a sincere love that goes into the film.

Since you brought up Dark Horse, my personal favorite, I think the contrast they create is with Solondz’s pessimism and optimism on pessimism. The former film is what happens if you allow pessimism to be a pessimistic tool while here he uses it to strengthen the bulwark of the good in life. Yeah, there’s shit head students you want to stab in the eye and the possibility of loneliness, but there’s also the small connection you can make with anyone to throw that pain into relief.

I also constantly think of the structure of viewing the world through the eyes of different ages and how that shows when and how we can do damage. At our youngest parents have some blame, but by our twenties we are already responsible for our outlooks and can work toward using pessimism well so that the inconvenience of life doesn’t drag us down.

Less high falutening, I think this is seriously my favorite Delpy performance. She’s so good at being so bad.

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mfunk9786
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Re: Wiener-Dog (Todd Solondz, 2016)

#13 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Dec 03, 2020 4:13 pm

Tracy Letts is downright terrifying when he's in "training" mode. Far too realistic a portrait of the way that our most vulnerable are also treated with the least respect and decency, which is something we all need our noses rubbed in right now more than ever. The first segment may be the least narratively compelling of all, but it sets a tone of "it's not about this story, it's about how this story feels." that applies to every tale that follows. It's a very different narrative approach to this kind of film than other recent examples of the genre like Relatos salvajes or The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, because Solondz isn't grouping these stories together out of some preternatural sense of showmanship (which he arguably does not have much of). Despite the silly intermission bit, which is delightful but perhaps wasted on this of all films.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Wiener-Dog (Todd Solondz, 2016)

#14 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Dec 03, 2020 8:51 pm

Great discussion- I revisited Dark Horse today and it still holds up wonderfully. knives' explanation of the contrast is good, though I appreciate how Solondz tricks us by initially showing more empathy towards the conscious pessimists than the antisocial solipsistic lead who can't read social cues and hides behind delusional defense mechanisms, before we realize that he also identifies and even admires that resilience, and even suggests that it is to some degree necessary (though obviously in not such an animated, creepy way) in an equally absurdist social atmosphere. He always bets on the dark horse, even if the horse doesn't know it's a loser and even if it doesn't win.
mfunk9786 wrote:
Thu Dec 03, 2020 2:41 pm
It's the things not often associated with Solondz: images, emotion, sincere and heavy morality
Perhaps a coincidence, but there may be a connection in how Wiener-Dog is a sorta-sequel to Welcome to the Doll House- which I think is most effective because of its "images, emotion, sincere and heavy morality" and very distinct amongst the rest of Solondz's work. I'll have to revisit all of his films again to formulate a stronger connection myself (and why not, I love them all- well, maybe not Life During Wartime) but I wouldn't be surprised if, even on a subconscious level, returning to that energy through some characters of his early work elicited those more compassionate, raw meditations on the soul's many shades, brought into a more mature cosmic sphere.

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knives
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Re: Wiener-Dog (Todd Solondz, 2016)

#15 Post by knives » Thu Dec 03, 2020 9:20 pm

Well, I’m annoyed with myself as I just deleted by accident an in depth thing. The short version is I love Life During Wartime. Solondz is perhaps the most empathetic filmmaker ever and the only artist I feel is a fair point of comparison is Bruegel. I think all of his films are sincere, in a queer sort of way, with a consistent moral sense even if that moral sense is focused on the idea of empathy. Specifically that no human is beneath that with all of Solondz’s provocations being caused be him almost naively asking audiences to become people such as pedophiles and the mentally disabled who we usually other. Solondz’s portrayal of Down Syndrome throughout his career is one of the most fascinating things in the world of for no reason other than no one else does that.

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Re: Wiener-Dog (Todd Solondz, 2016)

#16 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Dec 03, 2020 9:33 pm

I agree with you 100%, and couldn't have described that unconditional humanism any better as his primary auteurist stamp. I suppose my piggy-backing on mfunk's comment was due to the more clear emotional space cut out in images in that earlier film, which (though I haven't seen Wiener-Dog since 2016) I remember finding in the camera's stalling on the dog, whereas not all of his other films linger in the same way. I do agree with you, however, that all his films are about empathy and have that pointed emotion, just sometimes a bit more hidden away in various outlets shining through in creative routes depending on the film.

Also, it should be noted that Life During Wartime was the first Solondz film I ever saw (yes, before Happiness) and I'm not sure it's a very good entry point. It took two watches to "get" Happiness and then I moved onto the others, which I loved unequivocally, so that's a long way of saying I need to revisit Life During Wartime before passing judgment on it. At the same time, I can't in all honestly say I "love" it, so my comment is technically true even if it indicates I've given it the chance I haven't yet to make it on that 'love' list.

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knives
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Re: Wiener-Dog (Todd Solondz, 2016)

#17 Post by knives » Thu Dec 03, 2020 9:45 pm

It was my first as well and it was a deep love at first sight. The way he portrayed everything was pretty new to me at the time with his conception of depression in particular having a deep impact on me. I also just find it hilarious particularly as it so deftly undermines the idea people build of of the ‘Jewish’ artistic character. I joke with friends that the difference between NY and NJ is best illustrated with Solondz as his rough weirdness would be intolerable in the city.

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Re: Wiener-Dog (Todd Solondz, 2016)

#18 Post by dustybooks » Fri Dec 04, 2020 10:37 am

I really appreciate this discussion though I can't add much at the moment -- Solondz is one of a few directors (Lars von Trier is another) of whom the general perception (that he is disdainful of people in general and his characters specifically) is so far from my own feelings that I often think I'm crazy, so to see him described by someone else as one of the most empathetic filmmakers working is quite a relief personally.

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mfunk9786
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Re: Wiener-Dog (Todd Solondz, 2016)

#19 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri Dec 04, 2020 1:16 pm

Yes, I was trying to describe the empathy to misanthropy pipeline and how one might be overwhelmed enough by their level of feelings for others that they no longer suffer any illusions about what the world is to LQ last night, and she absolutely tuned me out. But to me, empathy can be easily misinterpreted as misanthropy if it's genuine and particularly if it's "too much" over time for the person experiencing it.

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Re: Wiener-Dog (Todd Solondz, 2016)

#20 Post by domino harvey » Fri Dec 04, 2020 1:27 pm

Team LQ on this argument, though I haven’t seen this particular example

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Re: Wiener-Dog (Todd Solondz, 2016)

#21 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri Dec 04, 2020 4:31 pm

Will take a stab, at least: I don't think Solondz takes any joy in the suffering of his characters, but he chooses to depict that suffering straightforwardly because he doesn't carry around the optimistic notion that it could get any better on a significant scale. Would also contend that doesn't mean he doesn't see that suffering correctly, or doesn't feel it deeply - I read the blackly comic maturity of his work as a sign that he feels it very deeply. A lot of art of this sort goes out of its way to indicate that the artist behind it is well aware that what they're showing is not what they stand for, that it is below a standard that they personally think humans should seek to uphold, and (often worse), that they believe that people can rehabilitate themselves, improve their station in life, heal, treat others more kindly, so on and so forth. Is that possible in actuality? Of course. But if you have seen enough smaller scale human suffering that turns your stomach, there is a certain serenity that comes with realizing there is nothing that can be done to correct the course of the human condition wholesale in a way that would soothe you.

Is that misanthropy? I don't think so, in fact I think it's just about as far to the other end of the spectrum as one can get, but it sure looks like it sometimes, especially in the sort of art that Solondz creates. This film is deeply critical of the engrained "moral" choices that many of us simply take for granted (particularly, in this example, around dogs, the elderly, and the disabled) without ever blaming people for their own choices - rather simply observing the reality of living in society with millions of others who all have their own concerns that come first. A misanthrope, I'd contend, would choose to blame people for their own problems.

We have seen plenty of examples over the last few months of how people who are beaten down by dozens of factors far above their station are being blamed for, say, contracting a deadly disease at their job that they can't afford to quit or aren't allowed to do from home. This is all something that'd been on my mind anyway, so sitting with Wiener-Dog for a few days has certainly gotten me thinking about the distinction between being an empath and a misanthrope and how closely the two can be conflated if the former is unblinking in their approach.

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