October 8, 2009

NYFF '09 PODCAST: Life During Wartime (Armond White, Andrew Grant, Sylvia Miles)

Life During Wartime Is Welcome to the Dollhouse auteur Todd Solondz a misanthrope, or a humanist whose characters just happen to engage in ugly, perverse, cruel behavior? For me, the answer has been made clear with Life During Wartime (screening Saturday, Oct. 10 at 9pm), Solondz's quasi-sequel to 1998's Happiness, in which all of the characters are now played by different actors:
Todd Solondz starts his latest and finest film to date by introducing us to Joy (Shirley Henderson), whose husband Allen (Michael Kenneth Williams) is not quite cured of his peculiar "affliction." Joy's sister Trish (Allison Janney) is hoping to stabilize her family life by marrying the recently divorced Harvey (Michael Lerner), but her soon-to-be bar-mitzvahed son Timmy (Dylan Riley Snyder) isn’t sure he wants another man in the house—especially as it seems his dead father, Bill (Ciarán Hinds), might not be dead after all. His portrait of these and several other major characters—beautifully rendered by Charlotte Rampling, Paul Reubens, Renee Taylor and Ally Sheedy—is tough, tender, at times startling, but never mean or condescending. For Solondz, "wartime" is not a historical period but a permanent condition: not only the constant battle between the sexes, but even more so the endless struggle between personal desires and the society set up to contain them.

In my final podcast from the 2009 New York Film Festival, I chat with Andrew Grant, along with New York Press chief film critic and New York Film Critics Circle chairman Armond White, about Life During Wartime. We discuss the aforementioned misanthropy question, forgiveness, Todd Haynes and Luis Buñuel, but the party officially gets started when NYFF mainstay Sylvia Miles crashes our conversation to talk about the film and her upcoming role reprisal in Oliver Stone's Wall Street sequel—which only Armond could link back to the Solondz picture.

To listen to the podcast, click here. (15:27)

Podcast Music
INTRO: Talking Heads, "Life During Wartime (live)"
OUTRO: Devendra Banhart, "Heard Somebody Say"

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Posted by ahillis at October 8, 2009 6:30 PM


Hi Aaron--Wish you could have done more of these podcasts this year as you have during previous NYFFs.

Posted by: Nick Ramsey at October 14, 2009 2:08 PM

Thanks, Nick. Schedules didn't always align this year, so I missed the opportunities to chat with Jonathan Demme after one of the NYFF screenings, and a work crisis prevented me from talking with A.O. Scott about Police, Adj. But hold tight: one more related podcast will be posted next week (Andrew Grant, Michael Tully, Steve Dollar and myself on ANTICHRIST), tied instead to the theatrical/VOD release. We'll get 'em next year!

Posted by: Aaron Hillis at October 15, 2009 2:54 PM
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