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Palindromes Review


Unbearable
For those coming back for more, Todd Solondz ladles on another hour and 40 minutes of hatred for the world and everyone in it. Devoid of compassion or mercy, Solondz presents the human race as a dead end of losers, cretins, hypocrites, blindly happy idiots, cynical brutes, pigs, liars, manipulators, and pedophiles. They all march to his drum, making their way through the manicured lawns and bland white houses of suburban New Jersey. Lest this be seen as an endorsement of his particular brand of "miserable-ism" cinema, Palindromes is a cinematic experience that makes one feel soul-sick and dead inside. It illuminates nothing about the world other than that it's a Bad Place, and the best thing we can do is sit back in our seats, watch images unfold on the screen, and collectively laugh mockingly at the dire situation these characters are in (and aren't we all).

Imagine hateful movies like Ladder 49, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle as being one kind of deceptive lie about the world. The kind that oversimplifies human beings, pretending we are more beautiful or powerful or good or wholesome than we actually are. Imagine sitcoms that paint a picture of us as having perfect jobs, clothes, houses, and bodies. Those are the kinds of films and media that independent film purportedly rebels against. And Todd Solondz takes it so far in the opposite direction that he paints pictures of the ugly and the lost, then asks us to mock them, and say that there's no hope. Palindromes is just as loathsome as the worst kind of lie Hollywood or television has duped us with, because it's duping us just as much in a different way. It smears us in cinematic dogshit, then says, "Isn't that horrible?"

Continue reading: Palindromes 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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