Matthew Faber

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Welcome to the Dollhouse Review


Essential
Once again I have to agree with the mass of critics proclaiming a film as spectacular. First was Fargo, the best movie of the year. Now there's Welcome to the Dollhouse, a close second.

The winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival this year, Welcome to the Dollhouse has earned every award it has and every award it will get. Writer/director/producer Todd Solondz's intensely personal tragicomedy about an 11 year-old girl (Heather Matarazzo) facing vicious ridicule in junior high is an often somber (and more often hilarious) look at pre-teen "society."

Continue reading: Welcome to the Dollhouse Review

Palindromes Review


OK
Ponderable provocation is writer-director Todd Solondzraison d'etre.

In his 1996 debut "Welcometo the Dollhouse" he thrust unsuspectingaudiences into a tormentingly personal and visceral parable of extremeteenage angst and too-early sexuality. 1998's "Happiness"delved into sexual deviance with a sympathetic bent that dared you to hateit. "Storytelling,"Solondz's less-focused film of short stories, pushed NC-17 territory witha graphic and race-baiting sex scene, among other button-pushing developments.

But "Palindromes" is daring in a way that goesbeyond its inflammatory themes of pedophilia, abortion, selfish parenting,and religious extremism masquerading as piety -- it's a film that demandsyou get deep inside its troubled heroine's psyche by continually yankingthe rug out from under you with her inconsistent outward appearance.

Aviva is a meek, hapless, vulnerable but naively resilient13-year-old who runs away from home after foolishly but deliberately gettingpregnant (after 8 seconds of indolent sex), then being forced into an abortion(which is botched) by a protective mother (Ellen Barkin) who speaks caringlybut never really listens. Alone on the road and desperate for some modicumof unconditional acceptance, she comes under the influence of unhingedadults of both perverse and sunshiny self-righteous stripes in episodestinged with tribulation (of which Aviva is often barely aware) and extremelyacrid humor.

Continue reading: Palindromes Review

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