Film Review: Weiner-Dog

Weiner-Dog

Todd Solondz Wiener-Dog is an immensely entertaining black comedy. Some segments of the film charm more than others, but overall the film is very enjoyable viewing.

A dachshund passes from various owners, each with their own idiosyncrasies. The little dog impacts their lives, as he is passed from a family to a veterinary nurse, from an odd couple to a screenwriter…

Writer-director Todd Solondz delivers another black comedy which swiftly veers from humour to tragedy. Weiner-Dog works so well because Solondz captures his characters succinctly and successful. Each of the vignettes is distinctive, yet features the same brand of black comedy.

Weiner-Dog is divided into a series of short stories, each featuring the same cute dog. Some of these vignettes are more memorable than others. The film starts strong with a young boy getting his dog, despite the reluctance of his mother. This sequence sets up the tone of the film effectively. Solondz paints his film with some bleak ideas. It is the humour surrounding the darkness which makes the film enjoyable. There are some serious themes throughout the film, yet the light touch approach makes these palatable.

The veterinary nurse sequence is as sweet as it is odd. The vignette with the script writer at film school will prove most amusing for those who have experienced similar situations to those portrayed. The penultimate scene will satisfy only those with the darkest of humour. The prolonged duration will feel unnecessary for other viewers. There are some glorious shots in Weiner-Dog, not least the slow-motion interlude in the first segment. The intermission is charming in its silliness.

The ensemble cast of the film do a good job of inhabiting their characters. Kieran Culkin and Greta Gerwig work well together in their story. Julie Delpy is suitably priggish in the opening segment, a good contrast to joy of Keaton Nigel Cooke. Danny DeVito’s weariness perfectly suits his character.

The humour of Weiner-Dog will not thrill everyone, but it is wonderful fun for those who like their comedy black.

Film Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World did not deserve to bomb as badly as it did at the US box office. However, neither did it deserve the exorbitant amount of hype it received prior to release. The film itself falls somewhere in between worthy of the hype and box office dud.

Scott Pilgrim’s life is turned upside down when he meets Ramona Flowers, literally the girl of his dreams. In order to be with Ramona, he must defeat her seven evil exes…

Based on the graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is much like a live-action cartoon. The combination of computer game graphics with comic book imagery gives the film a fun and interesting look. Director Edgar Wright has excelled in creating a visually pleasing picture.

What the film gains in aesthetics it lacks in depth. The central character, Scott, is not exactly the most endearing protagonist. Cheating on his innocent girlfriend Knives with Ramona does not illicit much sympathy for him in the more emotional moments of the film. Nonetheless, the film puts emphasis on fun rather than drama, so the superficiality does not detract overly from the enjoyment.

A good portion of the humour is derived from Scott Pilgrim‘s references to popular culture. Whilst this will probably resonate with twenty-somethings, it may fall flat with younger or older audiences. The reference to ‘Mega Scott’, for example, will only be amusing to audience members versed in the classic video game Sonic the Hedgehog.

Whilst Scott himself isn’t the most likeable of protagonists, there are several entertaining characters featured. Knives Chau (played by Ellen Wong) is delightfully over excitable. Kieran Culkin is suitably cacophonous as Scott’s roommate Wallace, whilst Anna Kendrick is excellent but underused as his sister Stacey. Among the exes, Chris Evans stands out in his parody of a Hollywood movie star.

In addition to the lively graphics, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World features a great soundtrack. The film isn’t simply a case of style over substance. The film is an enjoyable watch. However, it appears to have a limited appeal. This is part due to its leading man. Michael Cera seems to play a very similar character in all his films. Unfortunately it is a character which a significant sector of filmgoers find annoying. This coupled with the video game and hipster references result in a film that will not attract a wide demographic.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is an enjoyable and amusing movie, but one that does not attain the level of ‘epicness’ it clearly strives for.