Awkwardly funny for some but definitively uncomfortable viewing for most, Todd Solondz’s 1998 Happiness – this haunting Freudian movie – deals with difficult subjects such as masturbation and paedophilia by cracking open American suburban angst in a non-judgemental way.
The themes explored in Solondz’s Happiness are so extremely hard to swallow that these might distract viewers from an obvious thread permeating the entire movie: those seeking happiness will forget about living and thus end up miserable. All the main characters in the film seem to be going through emotional rollercoasters; all of them, deeply unhappy, even the ones faking some sort of normality. It is inevitable that at the core of these characters’ problems sits your typical family, for as Philip Larkin knew well, ‘they fuck you up, your mum and dad.’
A sad and – on its release date – a shocking film, John Schlesinger’s 1969 Midnight Cowboy, tells the poignant tale of two outcasts, adrift in the urban ocean of isolation, alienation and disenfranchisement of the ultimate great metropolis, who can’t help but dig their own graves.
Can the outsider succeed in the great cities of the world? There’s a paradox in the movement of people towards the bright lights – the most suited of places to receive them are also the least welcoming ones. New York City, with its myriad of opportunities, is where dreamers start over, and yet, by its very nature and sheer size, it also alienates newcomers. The Big Apple of Joe Buck and Ratso Rizzo seems like a private party, in which they have not been invited. Continue reading →