Update: Buzz continues to build as the film just won Best Screenplay at the Venice Film Festival.
I like how Todd Solondz talks. In the below featurette—ideal for a Saturday afternoon in both length and Puerto Rico palm casualness—the writer/director of Welcome to the Dollhouse discusses his new film, Life During Wartime. Yep, titled after the Talking Heads’ classic. You may or may not know that Wartime is being cited in early reviews as a return to form for Solondz, the rare American director who is unwaveringly committed to exploring the fringes and norms of society.
There was a time in the mid ’90s when I actually confused Solondz and Wes Anderson, due to their media-buzz indie predilection and similar disheveled nerd-artist appearances. Funny that in 2009, that seems like such an odd and off mix-up. Perhaps tellingly so. Wartime stars Paul Reubens, in sickly make-up, the swell Allison Janney, a dour-looking Ally Sheedy, and Little Boston’s Paul Dano, and finds Solondz revisiting and reimagining several characters from his controversial pedophile study Happiness, in addition to ones from Dollhouse. Variety has called it Solondz’s best.
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Paul Reubens has been going around for the past couple years saying that he was developing two new Pee-Wee Herman feature films, one for adults, one for children. Neither of which seem to have advanced past the “is there anyone crazy enough to fund either of these films?” phase, but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t heard the last of Pee-Wee. Reubens has announced that he will be reprising the character live onstage in Hollywood, will have a limited engagement beginning November 8th, 2009, at The Music Box @ Fonda. Details after the jump.
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I lost interest in Todd Solondz sometime around Storytelling. Welcome to the Dollhouse was such a wonderful but painfully examination honest look at adolescence and Happiness was so disturbing, yet compelling. His later work seemed to lack heart, and serve only to shock. When Solondz’ newest film Life During Wartime was announced almost two years ago, I didn’t pay much attention.Â Originally the film was said to be a “kind of sequel to — or riff on — ‘Happiness’, and to some extent ‘Welcome to the Dollhouse’.”
“Many of the characters from these movies unexpectedly beckoned to me, and so I have explored new ways of developing and enlarging their stories, with the intent to recast them from a fresh perspective,” Solondz said in a 2006 statement.
MTV recently talked to Paul Reubens (the actor formerly known as Pee-Wee Herman) about the film, and Reubens revealed an interesting new detail – that the script features “characters from ‘Welcome to the Dollhouse’ and ‘Happiness’ whose paths converge.”
“It’s all different people playing the same roles. I’m playing a role someone else played in one of those movies.”
Woah, now I’m suddenly interested. But the question is, what Solondz character would Reubens play? I’m guessing that Reubens will portray Bill Maplewood, the father, psychiatrist and pedophile played by Dylan Baker in the original 1998 film. But who knows if this movie will even get made. It’s been sitting around on the shelf for two years.
“If it gets made, I’m doing it – but I’m not sure. It’s gotten pushed three times,” Reubens told MTV News. “He’s had problems with the financing on it.”
But if you think about it, how do you find financing for a quasi sequel to two films which combined didn’t even gross $10 million at the box office. As much as I’d like to see Wartime, Solondz is probably better off trying to get a more original project off the ground.
Before he has a chance to get started on those two new Pee Wee Herman movies he’s been promising for years now (like those will ever happen), Paul Reubens will be featured in Todd Solondz’ new movie in a dramatic role.
When I hear the name Todd Solondz, I think of his quirky earlier films Welcome to the Dollhouse and Happiness. His last two efforts (Storytelling, Palindromes) weren’t nearly as good. But we’re made it a point to try to forget they ever happened. And many people probably forget that Reubens has been on the comeback trail for some time now. And I think he did rather good in Ted Demme’s 2001 drug crime drama-pic Blow. Solondz first announced the film at the Cannes Film Festival, claiming that it is some sort of a companion piece to Happiness and Welcome to the Dollhouse.
“Many of the characters from these movies unexpectedly beckoned to me, and so I have explored new ways of developing and enlarging their stories, with the intent to recast them from a fresh perspective.”
This gives us hope. The film is set to begin shooting this fall.