I saw this fascinating movie,

I saw this fascinating movie, by director Todd Solondz, last night.
It was not without some trepedition that I rented it as, when I saw his film Happiness, I was appropriately depressed for two solid days. Solondz, for me, is able to cut to the very quick of the banality of our conversations, the simplicity of our lives, and the hollowness of contemporary culture. The worst scene in Storytelling, and the most horrifying for me, was watching an all-too knowing audience laugh at or with a documentary film made about the actual characters, a Jewish family in NJ, within the film.
Solondz, a not very attractive Jewish male who grew up in my very general neck of the woods, bleeds you to death with his coolly pointed ability to point out how shallow our feelings are. All the characters in his movies move from one feeling to the next at the drop of a hat: angry to sexy, mournful to gleeful, sorry to sad. In another scene in Storytelling, the documentary film director wants to get “audience feedback” about his crappy little film, exploiting on top of the exploitation of the film.
One could say that it’s easy to make fun of the foibles of suburbia. And it is, as the audience laughing at the documentary shows us. Solondz, the director, gets off this hook by setting up, within the movie, the “documentarian” as a strawman. So we see Solondz as a brilliant director pointing out the foibles of others pointing out others’ foibles. Too smart.
One last thing: the director very smartly cast Mike Schank in the same role as the latter played in American Movie. Mike is a clutzy but lovable idiot too easy to laugh at, and we don’t know where fiction and nonfiction meet with him. Is he an ubu-character — a heavyset doofus that is more knowing of life than he lets on? The movie also references another smartly cool movie, American Beauty; all of this makes all of this all too, too American.
Todd Solondz: Storytelling

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