Life During Wartime

18 11 2010

Life During Wartime is a spiritual sequel of sorts to writer/director Todd Solondz’s amazing 1998 film Happiness, and is basically a contrived and hollow replicant of that film.  The characters, dialogue, and style are all pretty much the same, but this time it all feels distant and unnecessary.  In Happiness, Solondz treated all his wonderfully twisted, but natural, characters with empathy and compassion, but that’s not the case in this film.  Not only does everything seem emotionally restrained, but Solondz actually seems to show disdain for his characters, who all have little depth this time around (another major difference from Happiness).  It’s as if Solondz is just going through the motions, with no inspiration whatsoever.  Even the “shock value” is forced.

The upside is the cast.  It’s another ensemble, and every member is near-perfect: Shirley Henderson, Michael Williams, Allison Janney, Ciaran Hinds, Paul Reubens, and Dylan Riley Snyder.  It’s a great actors’ showcase but not much else.  This film has nothing to say or offer that Happiness didn’t.

5.5/10





Trailer, poster for “Life During Wartime”

1 04 2010

Todd Solondz, the writer/director of Happiness and Welcome to the Dollhouse, has a new film coming out that’s been getting some good buzz.   If you haven’t seen any of his films I highly recommend them.  They’re quirky, moving, disturbing, and really good.  Life During Wartime looks no different:





My 20 Most Anticipated Movies of 2010

2 01 2010

20.  THE GHOST WRITER  (Roman Polanski)

-Had one of the most intriguing teaser trailers.  Plus, with all the controversy surrounding Roman Polanski it’ll be interesting to see how the public reacts to this.  It stars Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan.

19.  MACHETE  (Robert Rodriguez)

-The fake trailer from Grindhouse is being made into a feature.  Should be fun, and it’s nice to see Danny Trejo get a starring role.

18.  DUE DATE  (Todd Phillips)

-I think Zach Galifianakis is one of the funniest people alive, so I can’t wait to finally see him in the lead role for a comedy like this.  Robert Downey Jr. also stars. 

17.  DAYBREAKERS  (Spierig brothers)

-This one comes out next week.  It’s getting good reviews, I like Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe, and I thought the trailer looked great.  I think it’ll be a lot of fun.

16.  BIUTIFUL  (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu)

-It’s by the director of Amorres Perros and Babel and stars Javier Bardem.  With those names there’s no way this turns out bad.

15.  JACK GOES BOATING  (Philip Seymour Hoffman)

-I know nothing about this except that it’s Hoffman’s directorial debut.  He’s one of my favorite actors so it’ll be interesting to see how he fares as a director. 

14.  THE AMERICAN  (Anton Corbijn)

-From the director of Control and starring George Clooney.  Sounds like a promising duo.

13.  THE RUM DIARY  (Bruce Robinson)

-The director of Withnail and I hasn’t made a film in almost 20 years, so it’s great to see him back and directing again.  This stars Johnny Depp playing a Hunter S. Thompson type journalist just like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, so I’m predicting this to be wild and fun.

12.  YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER  (Woody Allen)

-I’m always excited for a new Woody Allen film.  This one’s got another great cast including Frieda Pinto (her first role since Slumdog), Josh Brolin, Naomi Watts, Anthony Hopkins, and Antonio Banderas.

11.  MY SON, MY SON, WHAT HAVE YE DONE?  (Werner Herzog)

-Starring one of my new favorite actors (Michael Shannon) directed by one of my all time favorites, and produced by David Lynch.  Should be thoroughly creepy.

10.  LIFE DURING WARTIME  (Todd Solondz)

-From the writer/director of Happiness and Welcome to the Dollhouse, both of which I consider masterpieces. 

9.  TRUE GRIT  (The Coen Brothers)

-Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and Jeff Bridges star in the Coen brothers’ remake of the John Wayne classic.  At this point anything the Coens make I’ll see opening weekend.  They’re just so consistently brilliant.

8.  ENTER THE VOID  (Gasper Noe)

-The director of Irreversible is back with another mindfuck.  All I need to know.

7.  TOY STORY 3  (Lee Unkrich – PIXAR)

-It’s Pixar, I’d be shocked if this didn’t turn out to be great.

6.  HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1  (David Yates)

-Man I’ll be sad when this series comes to an end.

5.  MICMACS  (Jean-Pierre Jeunet)

-A new comedy from the director of Amelie.  All his films have been wonderful (with the exception of Alien: Resurrection), so I can’t wait for this one.  One of the best working directors.

4.  BLACK SWAN  (Darren Aronofsky)

-Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis star as rival ballerinas in what’s being described as a psychological thriller.  Aronofsky’s one of the most interesting directors right now, so I always look forward to what he’s doing next. 

3.  THE TREE OF LIFE  (Terrence Malick)

-This is only Terrence Malick’s 5th film in his almost 40 year career, so it’s kind of an event whenever a new film of his is released.  Plus, apparently this one’s got dinosaurs in it.  Yeah, dinosaurs.  Can’t wait.  He’s one of the most adventurous and beautiful filmmakers, and this has been his pet project which he’s been working on since the 70’s.  It stars Sean Penn and Brad Pitt.  Not to go overboard on the hype and give the film unrealistic expectations, but this could be one of the greatest films ever.  It has unlimited potential. 

2.  SHUTTER ISLAND  (Martin Scorsese)

-It’s so exciting to see Scorsese tackle the horror/thriller genre (I don’t really count Cape Fear).  Plus, I love the Hitchcock-esque mystery feel I get from the trailer.  This one just looks amazing.

1.  INCEPTION  (Christopher Nolan)

-OMG I CAN”T WAIT TO SEE THIS.

Notably absent:  Alice in Wonderland, or “The Mad Hatter in Wonderland” judging by the trailer which puts Johnny Depp front and center and barely even features Alice.  Honestly, I wish Tim Burton would stop remaking everything, and I wish he’d stop casting Depp and then covering him in white make-up everytime.  It also looks like he went completely nuts with the CGI.  Needless to say I’m skeptical about this one.