Head to Head – Happiness

Welcome to the latest edition of Head to Head, in which our Quickflix critic takes on our readers in a rip-snorting battle to the death! You pick the film, and we pick the fight!

This week, we received our very first challenge from the United States of America! C. Fitzpatrick Biggs told us how unhappy he was with Todd Solondz‘s controversial film Happiness. You can win free movie tickets by sending your mini-reviews to us here at Quickflix!

C. Fitzpatrick Biggs will argue AGAINST the film, while Quickflix critic Simon Miraudo will argue FOR it. Let us know in the comments section below who you agree with. Spare no vitriol! Choose your side! There can only be one winner!

C. Fitzpatrick Biggs – 0/5

Happiness is a hip movie for critics to like, but it is entirely devoid of substance. Allen (P.S. Hoffman) and Maplewood (Dylan Baker) come off as caricatures, despite the actor’s intentions; any flaw in the characters is the fault of the writer/director, Todd Solondz, alone. I can see where this film tries to be innovative like Neil LaBute‘s efforts, but instead is an excessive exercise in self-congratulations a’la Michael Haneke. An in-depth look at human relationships, depression, and parenthood should create introspection in the viewer. What we receive instead is gratuitous ejaculation shots for the director’s amusement and is just controversial for its own sake.

Fitz, I cannot sit idly by and let this challenging picture be completely eviscerated. While Solondz’ films have been known to get swallowed up in his own over-inflated sense of self-worth, Happiness remains a fascinating and thought-provoking picture about the nature of despair. How do these human beings deal with the revelation that they might be rotten at their core? I don’t believe Allen and Maplewood come off as caricatures; in fact, I believe Todd Solondz treats these depraved beings with love and respect, which is more than you could say for any character in a Haneke film. (I do agree with you on that point Fitz; Haneke is terrible. He hates his characters AND his audience. Funny Games – now THAT is a 0-STAR movie!)

Now it’s over to you! What were your thoughts on Happiness? Let us know in the comments section below. And if you would like to be featured in the next Head to Head, and possibly win some free movie tickets, send your mini-reviews to us here at Quickflix!

11 Responses to “Head to Head – Happiness”

  1. Biggs – you lost me when you bad-mouthed Haneke.Also – this is a great film.

  2. Agreed Glenn, I found Funny Games to be intriguing, thought-provoking and essential for the modern film audience. Pretentious and assumptive Haneke may be, but I find his films discussion worthy and highly interesting.Happiness is disturbing, odd and also thought-provoking. I'm middle ground on it though, there's only so much depressing I can take (said the guy who's viewed Requiem For A Dream 3 times).

  3. Glenn: *spanks* Welcome to the Dollhouse was Solondz's first filmBiggs: devoid of substance? Happiness reaches into the heart of the american family and shows how empty and aching it is; it shows the confusion of adolescence and the real pain that sexual abuse wreaks not just on its victims but the family of the abuser; and finally it shows how desperate we are to connect with other humans, to somehow make meaning in this crazy, complicated, alienating world called modern life.American Beauty – now there's a fim devoid of substance. But Happiness, complete with ejaculation, offers possibilities not by presenting the middle aged masturbatory fantasies of disaffected middle class white men but a head on, unflinching look into life itself.

  4. Ugh; sorry about that. Happiness is NOT Solondz's first film. I will correct now.

  5. G,The confusion of adolescence was hardly touched on. Bill and his son speaking of sex really didn't speak to anything but the innapropriate manner of Bill as a parent.No one really strove to connect to anyone everyone was concerned with image(with the exception of Joy).This film is indicative of nothing except Solondz flawed view of upper-suburban families. This is not life, but a look into mental illness.

  6. How was Funny Games thought-provoking? America is violent? I'll give him that.But moviegoers do not sit through these films to see the idle spectacle of people being tortured. People go to horror films to be frightened(exhibited by Paranormal Activity's great box-office).Call Funny Games what it really is, the force-feeding of synthesized abuse and torture. It isn't a film but an abstract theory Haneke sought to use to ridicule American audiences.

  7. To Fitz:Becuase you just provided your very passionate thoughts on the film. If that's not thought-provoking, what is? You watch Transformers you may go "meh. It's fun." That's not particularly thought-provoking.Not YOU you, I mean colloquially you. Generalization. I found it to be an interesting dissection of the human need for violence and vengeance, or a form of justice. It constantly undermined our expectations of genre films. I'm a HUGE MASSIVE Van Damme fan, but if I were to look objectively upon my obsession I would be aghast to realize I was not only upholding, but celebrating, rejoicing and reveling in violence for violence's sake. Simply to get my rocks off and go "YEAH! Take that you racial denomination/ evil mafia/ damn Reds!" etc etc.But hey, everyone's entitled to their opinion, and that's what makes it all so great.I guess I mean discussion-provoking, not necessarily thought-provoking. But to me they're kinda the same, considering how the only comments I get on my regular facebook posts of movie reviews usually consist of "u spelt that wrong lol" and the like. So I'm glad you have an opinion that's both well-thought, well-justified and well-spoken! Glad to discuss with you!

  8. Perhaps I should consider thought-provoking and debate-provoking the same as well.I may have hated Funny Games but I talked about to everyone. Godd to get your thoughts Adam.

  9. Since this has pretty much turned into a debate over Funny Games, I thought I'd weigh in with my opinion too.First of all, way to be classy everyone. We rarely see this kind of polite back and forth on the blog, so this is exciting.Secondly, Funny Games is certainy discussion-provoking; I have spoken at great length about it since first seeing it a few years ago. However, I also speak at great length about Twilight. I find both films about as textually rich.What always gets me is Haneke's smugness; although Hidden is a better film (to a degree), he seems to be overly concerned with inserting himself, AS the director, into the lives of his characters in both films.HE punishes them, and then accuses the audience of making him do it, or at least of enjoying it.I would have preferred a better dissection of violence; one which perhaps examines the ramifications of movie violence instead of just chastising the audience. It makes Funny Games ideologically unsound.To follow this up, can anyone think of a film which challenges the idea of violence in movies? Unforgiven and the Vengeance Trilogy spring to mind, but I think we can come up with some better ones.

  10. You know what. INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. One of the best films of the decade, and perhaps the most effective look at violence in movies ever.SPOILER ALERT FOR INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS!!!The audience watches a cinema full of Nazi's cheering a propaganda film in which Allied soldiers are mowed down by the Reich's forces. We, as an audience, are disgusted.THEN, the Basterds burst in and mow down the Nazi audience in an even more violent and graphic way. We, as an audience, cheer.THAT is how you challenge an audience. You don't look them in the face and flat out tell them how 'wrong' they are. You use your tools as a filmmaker to entertain, and truly provoke discussion/thought.

  11. i feel the same about Inglorious Basterds – very clever film-making.Haneke wants you to watch his films and then mocks you for doing so – he wants to have it both ways and that to me, is alienating.Those of us who do watch it will feel patronised and a little let down by a film-maker willing to take our money but make us feel bad about watching his film. Who is he to judge what lesson we must be taught simply because we enjoy horror?Michael Haneke says “Anyone who leaves the cinema doesn’t need the film, and anybody who stays does.”What about those who don’t see it but slow down at car wrecks or love the news footage of carnage and sorrow? What judgement is passed on to them?

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