Starring: Paul Giamatti,
Selma Blair, Leo Fitzpatrick, Robert Wisdom, John Goodman, Julie
Haggarty, Noah Fleiss, Lupe Ontiveros and Aleska Pallidino
Directed/written by: Todd Solondz
comes to us via social alienation king, writer/director, Todd
Solondz. He's the kind of guy who likes the darker more disturbing
side of the human psyche and thrills in showing us how brutal
humans can be to each other. Be warned. His work includes Happiness
(with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Flynn Boyle). Wildly popular
with Indie fans it was a brutally honest and brilliantly acted.
Before that he brought us Welcome To The Dollhouse (with
wonderful Heather Mattarazzo) another dark look at the underside
of everyday life. They are definitely pitch black dark comedies
that are intoxicating and disturbing all at once.
That having been said I was tickled rouge when I was asked to
preview Storytelling. While Storytelling stays within
his dark niche within a genre, is actually homogenized a bit for
my tastes. That is, he seems to have toned it down a little as
opposed to his previous no-prisoners films.
Storytelling he presents to "shorts" as fiction and
nonfiction screenplays. Of course he plays with us and they are
actually polar opposites of their descriptions. That's Solondz.
first section of the film is about a college student, Vi (Selma
Blair) who idolizes her dark and mysterious pompous and famous
writing professor M. Scott (Robert Wisdom) and her aspiring writer
boyfriend, Marcus (Leo Fitzpatrick) who's got a harder time than
most fitting in. Vi longs for the soul to write as he does. The
sleazy professor isn't too impressed with her writing but is willing
to use her idolization for his own sexual benefits.
section of the film is disturbing because of it's brutal honesty
about the way some people in authority will use that power to
engulf another and spit them out. Even though its only about a
half an hour long I found the pace slow moving and dragging, but
the final scene were a classroom of "know-it-all" students
dissect Vi's final written assignment is worth the wait.
second section introduces Toby (Paul Giamatti) Oxman life ne'er
do weller and general geek. You'll be able to see instantly he's
a loser with exponents.
a struggling...well...filmmaker who decides to do a documentary
about high school. When he researches a school he meets Scooby
(Mark Webber). Scooby comes from a well-to-do family with hidden
demons and all-American desires. Scooby's family seems normal
enough, but under the eye of Toby's lens their dreams and aspirations
come off twisted and extreme. Especially Scooby's goal oriented
father Marty (John Goodman).
simply follows Scooby around along with his family, as he prepares
for the SAT test that will make or break his future.
is two simple story lines that at the hands of Solondz and his
wonderful cast of actors become interesting and plain old voyeuristic
at times. The dialog real and often razor sharp with its brutal
honesty. The comedy is dark as burnt toast- just the way I like
first story had great acting but was just too calmly portrayed
and had a couple of as-if scenes. The second section about Toby
and Scooby, I personally, enjoyed more. Of course I am biased
as I adore Jimmy Tomorrow, er, Paul Giamatti and his acting style.
the actor playing Scooby perfect as stoner, anarchist, confused
teen. John Goodman as Scooby's dad was simply hysterical at times.
Julie Haggarty is perfect as Scooby's Insta-flakes Mom and socail
But, it's the smallest child in the family, Jonathan Osser who
plays Mikey that'll have you chilled with fear. He's not a focus
of the story, yet it's so strong a sub-text you'll start to wait
for his scenes to come up.He's
a young manipulator with a venomous streak that comes off as childishly
mischievous at first, till his black little soul is revealed,
a soul akin to Damian from the Omen series! Creep-o-rama central.
His conversations with the families maid, Consuelo (Lupe Ontiveros)
will have a chill firmly bolting up your spine! He truly steals
is a great film for the acting and dialog study alone, but you
also get some new talent to peruse through and a couple of clever
stories to chew on. Admittedly, it's not Solondz's finest work
but at least he's still making films and a voice as unique as
he needs to stay around to keep the generic movie-stuff we are
often force fed in check. Enjoy.
recommendation: Blintzes and coffee.