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.’
An ambitious trip towards the deep subconscious of Man, Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2012 The Master showcases a gladiatorial battle of wits between a perturbed individual, exacerbated by his animal appetites, and an apparently civilized and yet animalistic man of letters.
Don’t be fooled by the presence of the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the supposedly titular character. Although Lancaster Dodd, as the founder of a cult, looks the type, he might not even be the master of himself. Is Freddie Quell, on the other hand, enough of a daring anti-hero to be called an Übermensch? Paul Thomas Anderson – one of the greatest filmmakers of the last twenty year, who seems to never put a foot wrong – looks into the eyes of archetypal America in order to explain the trends of nowadays. Continue reading →