This is the second in a series of reports from the Telluride Film Festival. The event customarily held over the Labor Day weekend returned for its 36th season September 4-7. Coverage will include a quick look at a film screened the previous night; highlights of some of the group discussions and celebrity appearances; and word on the streets (or the tweets) about who or what might be creating the most showbiz buzz.
Running time: 96 minutes.
What’s it all about? Maybe this is as close as writer/director Todd Solondz will ever get to a feel-good movie. Solandz has called Life During Wartime a “quasi-sequel” to 1998’s Happiness, his bizarre take on the weirdness that happens in Everyday, USA. And while many of the same characters return, along with a couple more from Solondz's first film, 1995’s Welcome to the Dollhouse, they are played by entirely different actors. But themes of forgiving, forgetting, loneliness and madness inhabit this world, where pedophiles and perverts share the same space with red-haired, freckle-faced boys who think they’re becoming men and wounded women looking for a second chance at happiness. But instead of using sex as a weapon, one female character finds an Emmy statue works just as well.
Director and writer: Solondz (Palindromes, Storytelling, Happiness) first made himself known to Telluride audiences when he brought Happiness here in 1998. Wrote Roger Ebert of the reaction: “The film they couldn’t get a handle on was Happiness, which is about characters so pathetic and perverse that you watch them with a kind of horror.” In 2004 at Telluride, Solondz and actress Ellen Barkin presented Palindromes, a film in which the lead role was played by six different actors, including Jennifer Jason Leigh. Solondz is missing Telluride this year because he is in Venice.
Leading roles: Shirley Henderson (Joy); Allison Janney (Trish); Ciaran Hinds (Bill); Michael Lerner (Harvey).