Aviva is thirteen, awkward and sensitive. Her mother Joyce is warm and loving, as is her father, Steve, a regular guy who does have a fierce temper from time to time. The film revolves around her family, friends and neighbors.
Jennifer Jason Leigh,
Stephen Adly Guirgis
I went into this thinking it was a sequel to Welcome to the Dollhouse; I guess it technically is but it has greater concerns than letting us know what happened to Dawn and the rest of the WttD crew so adjust your expectations accordingly.
The movie is broken up into 4 parts, each part focusing on a different owner of the titular Weiner-dog.
The first part was my favorite, about a young boy struggling to understand his dog's place in the world. It is sweet and funny and I was incredibly nervous about what would become of the dog since I did not know the movie would take on a 4 chapter structure.
The second part reunites the Welcome to the Dollhouse characters Dawn and Brandon. Greta Gerwig's performance was a little strange and there were some distracting continuity issues and cutting. In fact, the entire movie had very distracting moments of editing, usually cutting back and forth from character to character for each individual line. It's very jarring, particularly because the moments without dialogue are usually portrayed in long takes.
There is an intermission, it is fantastic.
The third part is the weakest. It focuses on Dave, a screen writing professor, who is struggling to sell a script. It drags on a bit long and ends with a punchline that doesn't really have a ton of punch.
The fourth part is a bit more surreal, and feels more similar to his recent movies. It focuses on an elderly woman whose daughter comes to visit. Then takes sort of a bizarre turn in its second half.
I walked away from the movie thinking it was great but feeling terrible.
Overall, Todd Solondz continues to be one of the most interesting filmmakers out there. I feel like he's definitely making the kind of movies he wants to be making: quiet comedies reflecting our superficial, pathetic, and delirious culture packed with incredibly uncomfortable conversations and situations; I just think his previous work is more interesting.
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