If you like your comedies dark or your characters deeply eccentric and emotionally fraught, then chances are you’ve stumbled onto the work of writer/director Todd Solondz. The filmmaker found himself a success straight out of NYU, landing a three-picture deal with 20th Century Fox off of the strength of his student films. However, the lack of control and immense disappointment saddled on Solondz during his first feature Fear, Anxiety, And Depression (a potential subtitle for any of his movies) was enough to send him fleeing from the film industry for six years. He returned with the independently financed high school humiliation comedy Welcome To The Dollhouse, which promptly won awards at Berlin and Sundance. He then achieved infamy with his multi-character masterwork Happiness (which notoriously brought a compassionately and frighteningly written pedophile into his harsh comedy world). The self-conscious Storytelling and experimental semi-sequels Palindromes and Life During Wartime followed, inevitably garnering controversy, critical acclaim, and cult appreciation.
Few comedy directors are as fearless or divisive. Solondz has a special knack for latching onto outcasts and discovering the pain and sorrow of their existence through laughs designed to stick in his audience’s throat. Solondz returned to the Toronto International Film Festival this year with his latest movie Dark Horse, his version of the regressed manchild comedies made popular by the Apatow crowd starring Jordan Gelber, Selma Blair (reprising her role from Storytelling), Mia Farrow, and Christopher Walken. Collider got a chance to sit down with the Solondz during his stay in Toronto to discuss his latest feature, his unique sense of humor, his interest in revisiting former characters, and how his movies can so often be misunderstood. Hit the jump for all the Solondzian goodness.
Following his surreal and reflective Happiness sort-of-sequel Life During Wartime, dark comedy specialist Todd Solondz returns with Dark Horse, a film that only initially appears to be his most mainstream outing to date. As a filmmaker who revels in the world of societal outcasts, it was inevitable that the writer/director would eventually find his way to creating an entry in the recent spat of manchild comedies. However, Solondz is no Apatow and his tale of a 35-year-old man who still lives with his parents and spends most of his time pondering his latest action figure purchase isn’t merely a gently comedic take on the subject. Laughter is only the starting and as the film wears on, it soon becomes a sad deconstruction of manchild comedies and a hallucination-fueled nightmare of immaturity and failure. Not exactly a light date movie for the Seth Rogen crowd, but a comedy that cuts deep into the current filmgoing infatuation with unjustly glorified juvenile behavior. Hit the jump for more.
Christopher Walken, Mia Farrow, Selma Blair, Jordan Gelber, Aasif Mandvi, Justin Bartha, Zachary Booth, and Donna Murphy have all joined the cast of Dark Horse, the latest from writer/director Todd Solondz (Life During Wartime). THR provides a brief outline for the indie drama:
The film centers on a thirtysomething man (Gelber) in arrested development who lives with his parents (Walken and Farrow), reluctantly works for his father and avidly collects toys. He seeks out a thirtysomething woman (Blair) in arrested development in an attempt to shed the “dark horse” status in his family and finally accomplish something.
Mandvi plays Blair’s “not quite ex-boyfriend,” Bartha and Booth are Gelber’s more successful brother and easygoing cousin (respectively); Murphy will portray Walken’s secretary. Filming began earlier this week in New York.
Hit the jump for news details on Vanessa Hudgen’s role in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and the teaming of Jessica Lange and Sam Neill for The Vow.