Do people just not find Todd Solondz’s anger and frustration about the depravity of humanity meaningful or moving anymore?
Nah, Solondz is just as meaningful, moving and insightful as ever *please clap*
Wiener-Dog is a four-part condiment that feels particularly soft-edged coming from the frustrated filmmaker who made Welcome to the Dollhouse and Happiness, but purposely so. His so-called hatred or feelings of depravity may have simmered some, but he feeds us the the same principles of his cosmically misanthropic universe via a dog bearing the sings of mankind. The Todd Solondz Cinematic universe is a universe one can only dream of spending more time in, so a new Solondz is always a much-needed treat. This time he’s a lot more candid and frank in his approach with his signature depressive weirdoes, and more visually dazzling than ever (no thanks to Lachmann). Wiener-Dog is more about the randomness of the universe. More specifically death, futility and reality, a final gesture towards a defeated man sick of being inherently labeled as “too negative” and sickened by the typecast faces of young arthouse. So this time Solondz went a little more gushy, throwing moral truth bombs (one literally so) and morbid humor along the way. Because his bite felt softer than usual, I didn’t find all sequences as consistently funny as I’d have hoped.
There are true moments of greatness in WIENER-DOG, but also a lot of comedic misfires and WTF-isms. The only pitch-perfect chapter for me was the DeVito one, an undoubtably therapeutic one for Solondz, casting DeVito as himself. The most disappointing chapter focused in on Dawn Wiener (beyond the grave) played by Greta Gerwig. She did not embody the same Dawn Wiener character I fell in love with, more like a poor imitation. And don’t even get me started on how miscasted Kieran Culkin was as Brandon. It’s like Solondz purposely stripped away their distinguishable depressive attitudes and characteristics. The whole sequence overall was pretty underwhelming and felt like Solondz was fulfilling his own god-complex, that he can do whatever the fuck he wants. It’s his universe, so he may have a point. And finally the most surprising aspect of WIENER-DOG was discovering how wonderful Todd Solondz is at building tension in moments of suspense. Something he’s always nailed within dialogue and seen in rapport, but only teased in his direction. You could literally feel the numbing panic and claustrophobia in the air during the (truth) bomb sequence. Brilliant stuff.
The movie’s secondary message is Solondz may not feel fully appreciated, but he won’t change for you either either. And Solondz is all the better for it.
Love yah, Todd.