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Plot: Storytelling is comprised of two separate stories set against the sadly comical terrain of college and high school, past and present. Following the paths of its young hopeful/ troubled characters, it explores issues of sex, race, celebrity and exploitation Written by Fine Line Features Runtime: 87 min Release Date: 08 Nov 2001
Some of the best writing you will ever see. (by addicott)
Writer/director Todd Solondz last rocked my world with Happiness, which was the sharpest, most unflinching black comedy I'd ever seen. He does it again with Storytelling, keeping his impeccable edge while exploring some intriguing new turf. No doubt wary after his previous ventures, Solondz attempts to circumvent some of the criticisms that less savvy viewers are bound to make. Sure enough, they go ahead and make them; the reviews are polarized. But the film is a masterpiece.The film has two parts. The first part, titled Fiction, focuses on a creative writing student Vi Selma Blair , her <more>
Cerebral Palsy-stricken boyfriend Marcus Leo Fitzpatrick and their professor Mr. Scott Robert Wisdom .The classroom setting provides an unusual venue: a story writing workshop within a story. Solondz puts one of the characters through a perversely traumatic experience, which we witness as viewers of the movie. Before we have a chance to pass judgment on Solondz, his character writes about the event in the 3rd person and reads the story in class. All accusations one might level against Solondz namely: bad taste, plus every "ism" in the book get made by the fellow students, who detest the story. But in the context of the movie, they're condemning an account of an event that actually happened! Very clever...In spite of some of the grotesque twists, I found myself laughing out loud fairly often. Solondz has a gift for rendering subtle ironies that become overwhelmingly funny.The lead characters are fascinating and multi-layered. Vi seems innocent, but if you pay close attention, you'll notice she's not particularly sincere. One would like to root for Marcus, but his condition doesn't excuse him for being a lousy writer and a self-absorbed a**hole. The professor may be a monster, but he is also very frank.The second part Nonfiction is also highly self-aware. It covers the making of a two-bit documentary. In the process, the dialog once again anticipates many of the charges some will make against Solondz that he exploits his subjects and creates a sensational freak show for us to snicker at . There's a cameo role with Mike Schank, who was featured in real life in American Movie. The similarities between the documentary American Movie, the fiction Storytelling and the documentary within a fiction tentatively titled American Scooby are uncanny.Scooby Mark Weber is the ultimate apathetic suburban slacker teen. While very much spoiled and sheltered, he is also alienated from, and resentful of, his elders. He perks up a bit when there are no grownups around, but most of the time the "stupid" barrier is up and his eyes are half-closed and red from smoking pot. He's such a lost cause, he attracts the attention of an aspiring documentarian Paul Giamatti .As you might expect, the rest of Scooby's family is a real piece of work. Scooby's dad John Goodman is loud and domineering. His mom Julie Hagerty is idiotic. His younger brother Brady Noah Fleiss is a jock, perhaps the closest to what we'd like to consider "normal".The brainy youngest brother, Mikey Jonathan Osser is a real standout. He tags around with the overworked El Salvadorian housemaid Consuelo Lupe Ontiveros and asks her lots of questions. His curiosity is cute, but his conceited insensitivity truly boggles the mind.Solondz definitely favors the sordid, but I'm not sure he does so gratuitously. I think he simply refuses to pretend, as so many other do, that the world is a tidy, simple place. Those who seek to preserve such a notion are guaranteed to abhor his work. But is it fair to berate Solondz just because he dares to present what others systematically avoid? Whose vision is more skewed: Solondz for pointing out the dog***t on our shoes, or the mainstream for ignoring it?I wish I could agree that his writings are contrived and distorted, but I don't think they are. Through the media, through the grapevine and sometimes with my own eyes, I've seen events that are every bit as twisted and "wrong" as those Solondz creates. Everywhere I look, I encounter people who could easily be incorporated into a Solondz script.Every storyteller recreates the world according to his/her own vision. Todd Solondz just happens to be vastly more perceptive and talented than most. Storytelling is one of the most insightful, clever and thought-provoking films I've ever seen. Watch it multiple times for maximum yield.
Storytelling has two parts. Fiction and non fiction. In fiction Tod Solondz tells us how we have to watch part two, as soon as you start writing filming in this case everything becomes fiction. It is not surprising that the first part fiction seems to be more non-fiction than part 2 non-fiction . The first part is the very raw and painful story about a young girl who is raped by her literature teacher. The second part is the story of a documentaire filmmaker who tries to make a film about teens in suburbia. The guy is a looser, and nobody believes his film will be succesful. But the <more>
family he follows by accident gets involved in a serie of dramatic events, and the film becomes a hit. When the filmmaker tells his subject he is sory for what happend to him, scooby tells him not to be sorry, because his film is a hit.Tod Solondz is a genial storyteller. He doesn't follow the normal structure of a hollywood film, a protagonist with an dramatic purpose, an antagonsist with an invert purpose, ... Like the bad guy in part one tells us, the second story is way better, this one has at least a begin, a middle and an end. In fact Non-fiction has a begin, a middle and an end, but that is not the reason why you will like the movie. The dramatic events that will happen to the family livingstone are not the motor that makes this movie turn. As in happiness, it is the way Tod Solondz shows us how we really act in life, different than how we think we are acting. watching a Tod solondz movie is like when you watch yourself in the mirror early in the morning when you aren't completely awake. there is an ocean between where i live, an where tod Solondz films his movies, but everytime again, i see myself reflected in the personages of Tod Solondz. That is wath makes his films so wonderful painful, you see people doing stupid things, but you can't blame them, because you know you should do the same thing. You love the personages you are laughing with.Well, i love Tod Solondz, in my directors all-time ranking i'll put him on the same level as lars Von Trier, just under Ingmar Bergman, and igmar bergman, that is the top.
Excellent dark comedy with hell of a lot more truth in it than your average award-winning dramas (by napoleon339)
This movie is great.Because it deals with nasty subjects and themes that are just too real and raw for most directors out there to even attempt to handle.Tod is a truly consummated director and storyteller pun intended .I certainly can see an autobiographic commentary here, as any viewer paying some attention could.But for all it's dead pan humor and dark views of the human nature, this movie is a lot of fun and full of twisted, brilliant moments.*Spoilers Next*For example: when the character Scobby is high on marijuana and sees himself as a guest on Conan Doyle's Show...great!! And <more>
when his little brother highly annoying and egotistic but also very intelligent hypnotize his father to..love him!*End of Spoilers* By any means you should compare this with Tod's masterpiece: Happiness, but with Welcome To The Doll House another excellent movie of his this could stand very tall and proud.Highly recommended essential look!
This film, from indie director Todd Solondz is really two different movies, both of which have to do with storytelling of a sort...the first tale set in a college writing course has Selma Blair as a young woman involved with a cripple who has an affair with her professor and the second story is about Paul Giamatti as a down and out documentary filmmaker who follows a depressed high school kid and his family including John Goodman and Julie Hagerty around. Both stories are interesting and offbeat featuring solid acting work and good and involving storylines..They alternate between amusing at <more>
times and disturbing at others, often both, though sticking a big red box over a disturbing rape scene is more amusing than it should be... still a fine piece of filmmaking that is definitely worth the price of admission. GRADE: A-
Give up hope, all ye who seek out the phrase "the human condition" in the text below. It's not that kind of review. (by fedor8)
The best thing about Solondz's films is that they're utterly unpredictable. You never know what to expect, hence along with the steady stream of very funny gags and situations, there is a certain tension, almost like watching a "comedy thriller". A new genre perhaps? Solondz veers away from the clichés of both mainstream Hollywood rubbish and lethargic/pretentious/mindless indie crap, hence keeps the viewer on his toes for the duration. In a sense, he is the "anti-Ephron". A deaf-and-blind person could foretell you how a Nora comedy proceeds - in every <more>
successive scene - in her terrible noraphronic cinematic turds.I'm not quite sure what Solond'z political leanings are. Chances are that he is yet another movie-making liberal hint hint: he's a vegetarian, and his films are about middle-class suburbia , but he isn't a black-and-white, narrow-minded, dogmatic liberal who never analyzes anything, never digs below the surface, simply sponging in everything Michael Moore tells him - i.e. the stereotypical intellectually catatonic Leftist: lazy, smug, gullible, unable to learn. His cynicism regarding humanity isn't misanthropic, he simply tells is like it is more-or-less .Besides, what's so bad about misanthropy? Marxism might seem I underline "might" people-friendly on the surface, but deep down it hates every man, woman, and child. And because a skeptical view of man's alleged "inherent goodness" is NOT the foundation of all Marxist/Leftist beliefs, eventually Solondz might actually connect the dots and realize finally that left-wing ideology has no scientific basis, no roots in logic whatsoever, and contradicts his own views. He'll come around... if he isn't afraid to face the consequences of "switching sides". Of course, a problem is that most Americans only see two extreme sides they can join: either that of the Socialist, clueless, overly idealistic liberal whiner, or the side of the Christian fundamentalist wacko who considers abortion the burning issue of this millennium. There IS a middle road, you know... well, a middle road that tilts toward the Right - naturally. "Storytelling" has two parts, and while both are very good, it is somewhat of a pity that the first story was so brief. I got a great kick out of those English Lit class discussions, with all those hypocritical, cowardly, unimaginative, brainwashed college girls listening to the second essay, but pretending awkwardly not to know what or whom it's really about. It was extremely funny; these characters alone have the potential for a mini-series, let alone a 90 minute full-length film. However, these exploits end after a mere 10-15 minutes, to be followed by an entertaining saga of a Jewish family, their mentally unstable Putzfrau, and a nerdy, confused filmmaker wannabe. Great dialogue.One of the highlights is certainly the youngest Goodman son telling Consuela that the execution of her murdering/raping grandson was "possibly for the best".
*MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS* All in all, this film was hard to watch at times. I knew going into it that it was going to be a somewhat disturbing experience. It is Solondz after all. However, when you compare it to his previous films, "Happiness" and "Palindromes", it seems like Sesame Street in comparison.The film is split up into two parts: "Fiction" and "Non-fiction". The first story deals with a young lady who has enrolled in a writing class with her handicapped boyfriend. Her teacher is an overbearing and brutally honest black man. It is apparent that <more>
there is some sexual tension between the two of them. She dumps her boyfriend, goes to a bar one night, and her professor just so happens to be there. She ends up back at his place, and something horrible happens to her that pretty much ruins her emotionally. She writes a fictional short story based upon what happened to her that night Everyone in class accuses her of exploitation, of being a racist, etc. Her only response to the harsh criticism: "But it really happened!" Powerful stuff...The second half of the film deals with a documentary filmmaker who is basically supposed to represent Solondz himself. He wants to make a film about teenagers living in modern day suburbia, and he chooses a slacker named Scooby to be his subject. Scooby comes from an extremely dysfunctional family, headed by his extremely temperamental father. Scooby doesn't know what he wants out of life, doesn't even care to take the SATs at school, and wants to be a talk show host when he grows up. He has two brothers. One is your typical high school jock, and he thinks that Scooby is gay. His younger brother is a demonic little intellectual brat who is continually harassing the maid, and on occasion, hypnotizes his parents to get what he wants. However, the documentary filmmaker insists that he cares about these people and decides to go on with his project. There are moments here where it is clear that Solondz is making a statement about past criticisms of his films. Anyone who has done any research on the director will pick up on this. Scooby pours his heart out in front of the camera, telling of his hopes and dreams. He ends up taking the SAT, albeit in a very unconventional way. All the while, the filmmakers intentions become less and less honorable. I will stop there for fear of giving away the shocking ending.Solondz may be letting off a little steam here, and some of it feels gratuitous. However, it gives you plenty of food for thought, and you won't be able to think about anything else for a while.
Accurate and scathing attack on various forms of political correctness (by Chris_Docker)
Probably Director Todd Solondz' most mature work to date, Storytelling is split into two parts `Fiction' and `Non-Fiction' - yet similar themes underlie both and pose questions about what we call reality when it comes to prejudice and taboo subjects. Whilst in previous attempts such as `Happiness' Solondz' work has merely been controversial, in this film he berates political correctness more accurately and more entertainingly. It exposes ridiculous attitudes in the name of political correctness, whether it is the student with an awful essay who almost escapes criticism <more>
because he has cerebral palsy, or a black teacher who gets away with being a pervert because his victim doesn't want to entertain thoughts of racism. Nothing is sacred: Jews and the Holocaust also come in for merciless examination. But part of the film involves the story of a `documentary' being made within the main story, by an exploitative screwed up filmmaker who wants to do his own thing in the name of art, so in this sense, Storytelling even turns on itself and questions the validity of using the subject matter that it does. A controversial, worthy, and very entertaining film that stretches your ability to make moral judgements within a convincingly coherent framework.
An unpleasant, unsettling, and most importantly, necessary film (by TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews)
After reading about Palindromes and finding myself oddly attracted to the subject matter of several of Todd Solondz's features, I bought this film. It would seem that it has a reputation as being his worst work to date at least as far as theatrically released movies go ... I must say, if the rest of what he's done is this powerful, I will have to keep my eyes open for it. You seldom see movies that are this unpleasant. There are films that are far, far harder to watch... but this is still not one you put on to enjoy yourself. As many other viewers, I didn't care much for the first <more>
half well, part... it's a third of the projects full length, with a running time of about 25 minutes , "Fiction". I felt I had gained little after it was over, though I will say that the concept and themes explored are quite interesting. "Non-Fiction" proved to be far more worth-while, in my opinion. The writing and direction is excellent in both. The pacing works well... I was never bored, and while it wasn't exactly a "good" time, it moved along as it should, never really too slow or too fast. The characters were incredible... the sheer amount of development, through so little time spent on each... that's talent. As its title indicates, Storytelling goes into different methods of telling a story... and displays some of the most impressive storytelling that I've seen to date. There is some humor, but it's quite black, and throughout the film, I was unsure of whether I should laugh out loud... or cry my eyes out. The film is strongly satirical, very direct and seemingly almost aggressively anti-PC. Dealing with several subjects of taboo, Solondz pulls few punches, if any. Certainly not a film for everyone. Both parts seem to end somewhat abruptly, but that may be intentional. I will say that my rating would almost certainly have been higher had the first part been improved upon... or removed entirely. It's difficult to say who I'd recommend this to... cynics or realists with a strong threshold for the some of the ugliest sides of human nature, I suppose. From what I understand, though, it's less provocative than the other films of Todd Solondz. 8/10
It's pretty rare when I am at a loss for words, particularly when I am weighing an opinion on a film. Even more rare is when I'm speechless about a film by a favorite filmmaker. And to further the irony, the film is titled "Storytelling". Written and directed by Todd Solondz "Welcome to the Dollhouse", "Happiness" , "Storytelling" is actually two short stories within the same film.Being a fan of Solondz's work, I can't possibly pretend to be surprised that "Storytelling" is depressing. Anyone who has seen his other work knows <more>
what he or she is in for going in. One thing that I felt about "Storytelling" more than any of the other two Solondz films I've seen is that it seemed a lot more personal. The character of Toby is clearly a representation of Solondz, and a depiction and answer to and of his critics who say that he is a horrible person for "mocking" his characters, etc. In the film, when a fellow filmmaker criticizes Toby, telling him it is "glib and facile to make fun of those people", Toby denies this, simply saying "I love them." Looking back on his past work, and looking back on reviews I have written of those films, there is a definite pattern with the characterizations and the situations that Solondz writes them into. The situations are painful and the characters are sympathetic or pathetic, depending on how you look at them , but the pain comes from Solondz not turning the camera away from the subject when they are at their most vulnerable. Most filmmakers, in order to make a more commercially acceptable film do not inject the kind of honesty that Solondz does, which naturally ends up creating criticism for him because it is "different".Also notable is his defiant decision to, rather than cut his film according to MPAA standards to give it an R rating instead of NC-17, create a ridiculously large red box to mask the sex scene in "Fiction". Apparently he was told that the scene either needed to be cut or he would get a higher rating, an absolutely ridiculous notion because the action itself was not overly graphic, it was the details of the scene that were disturbing so in his refusal to cut it, he decided to throw it back in the MPAA's face and call it what it was: Censorship.Out of many "disturbing" scenes, there was one scene that I found so profound that it has not left my mind since I watched this film last night. Scooby decides that he wants to see the footage that Toby has shot thus far, so he travels into New York City to see him. Mike, who tells him that Toby is actually screening the footage elsewhere as they speak, greets him at the door. When Scooby gets to the screening, where various intelligista are gathered, he sees himself on the screen, giving his inner thoughts, while the audience is laughing. Other than to turn to the footage on the screen, the camera does not leave Scooby's face, which has been transformed from a look of hopefulness to a mask of grief. Later, when he returns home to an unexpected tragedy at home, among the various policemen, etc., Toby runs up to Scooby with Mike, camera in tow, saying, "Oh my god, Scooby. I'm so, so sorry." To which Scooby, providing the last line of the film says, looking right into the camera, "Don't be. Your movie's a hit." That scene, those words, and the rest of the film made "Storytelling" shockingly and almost unbearably good. Solondz, who has made a career out of turning his eye to the fraying suburban ideal, is at his bleakest with this film. I've read criticism that he is "too" dark, which make his films somewhat unwatchable; a notion I find absolutely ridiculous. True, his films are like repeatedly ripping scabs off of a wound, never allowing it to heal, but their profundity is almost tangible. "Storytelling" was so thought provoking and effective that I found myself too numb to fully react until I actually began to put my thoughts into words, at which point I felt like I wanted to cry my eyes out. In a society where films like "Guess Who" and "Miss Congeniality" rule the box office, I find this to be a really difficult film to universally recommend, but there are definitely those out there who will appreciate this film. An extremely strong 8/10.--Shelly