Thursday, February 10, 2011

TODD SOLONDZ AND HIS INFLUENCE ON AMERICAN INDEPENDENT FILM (and a few other exceptions)

Seriously, am I the only one who noticed the change in tone, subject matter and style within (mostly) American independent films ever since todd solondz (one of my all time favorite directors) blessed us with; 'welcome to the dollhouse' and 'happiness'? since 1999/2000, it seems like there are more and more todd solondz clones at every sundance film festival. We've all heard that generic Todd Solondz criticism before (and quite frankly, its getting kinda old); "why does he make such disturbing movies?" Well if that's how people feel, then why have so many movies over the recent years taken something from him? Why has he (and a small handful of a few other directors) influenced so many films?
Pedophiles have been painted in a more sympathetic light, and made out to be less of the monsters that they are (brian cox in 'l.i.e.', kevin bacon in 'the woodsman', jake earl haley in 'little children', etc). I'm sorry, but you can pretty much trace those specific performances back to Dylan Baker in 'Happiness'. American Film makers have been exploring themes of; sexuality & sexual orientation (me and you and everyone we know, wild tigers i have known, l.i.e.), violence (elephant, homeroom, dear wendy, after school) and the theme of 'coming of age' all together in a much more blunt and graphic fashion ever since 'Welcome to the dollhouse' hit the scene.
What stands out the most to me however, is the overall atmosphere and style of Todd Solondz's films that you see in so many recent American independent films. You all know what I'm talking about. Its that mixture of bright colors and wholesome-themed music set in suburbia, mixed with insanely dark humor (that usually involves kids).
Now this cant all be attributed to Solondz. His peers like Hal Hartley and Todd Haynes also helped to shape a lot of the independent films over the recent years as well (specifically; poison, safe, henry fool and trust). But as far as I'm concerned, its Solondz's style that shows the most in other people's films. Whats sad about this influence (that most people, including today's indie directors themselves who aren't even aware of it), is that 75% of the movies influenced by Solondz (along with Hartley & Haynes) aren't even good.
But seriously, when you look at the movies on the list below, just stop and think about it for a second. If you have the time, try watching some of his films, then try watching some of the movies on this list right after another to really get what I'm talking about.
Anyone who knows me well, knows that not only do i always speak highly of Todd Solondz, but Ive always preached how so many films copy his style. Well, thanks to mubi.com and its addictive list-making feature, Ive come up with a list of films that have borrowed (or in some cases stolen) from Todd Solondz. Seriously, years from now when Todd Solondz is dead, everyone is gonna be talking about how influential he was. I'm using this as an opportunity to document that not only was i one of his biggest fans, but i recognized his genius long before he died. Ray Carney has John Cassavetes. Roger Ebert has the coen bros. I have Todd Solondz.

so here is my list...
http://mubi.com/lists/23069
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