This is another Todd Soldonz directed movie. I have one more of his movies that I was able to get from Netflix and then I will have seen all of the films that he has done that are available on Netflix. There was at least one film that was not available on Netflix. I do this sometimes, if I find a director that I really like I try to watch all of the movies they have done.
This is another awesome movie, but this one is slightly different than the other two that I have already talked about here and here. This film is actually two short films placed together. The two films together compare fiction versus nonfiction in storytelling. Since the movie is actually split, I am going to split this review a bit as well.
The first story we see is entitled "Fiction". It is essentially the story of race relations and sexuality on a college campus. It is a short story at only 30 or so minutes, so the plot of the story moves fast. Again, Soldonz does an awesome job of casting this film with great actors, Selma Blair is awesome and Leo Fitzpatrick is amazing. Since the story is so short and I do not want to give anything away, there is not much I want to say about this film. But I watched the unrated version of this film and on the DVD you can watch either the unrated version or the rated "R" version. I was curious if I was right about the scene that they had to cut or at one of the scenes they had to cut and I was. It is a very graphic sexual scene with a lot of racial overtones, two things struck me about this scene. First, it was kind of funny the way the scene was edited for the "R" rated version on the DVD, the same scene was shown and the same audio was heard, but there was a big red box that blocked the audience from seeing the graphic nature of what was happening. If someone truly was trying to avoid the graphic nature in this film and chose the rated "R" version they really wasted their time and might as well see the unrated version as really nothing is edited out. The second thing is that by the editing the bulk of this scene out as I would assume would happen in a movie theater (I am just guessing here that there would not be just a big red box superimposed on the screen) the audience misses some very important information. Sure in the edited version you get the same idea, but the power of the images and what happens are so much more powerful in the unedited version and add so much to the ending that editing them out diminishes the whole story. I am sure that Soldonz had to make the edit so that the film could be distributed, but really the American public needs to get off their fucking high horse and accept that life is messy and things happen that we do not want to see all of the time, but we need to see them.
The second part of the this film is entitled "Nonfiction". Again this is superbly cast with John Goodman, Paul Giamatti and Mark Weber among the rest of the cast. This story is about a man, Paul Giamatti, who is trying to make a documentary about teens in suburbia. He is working with a very dysfunctional family who happens to be wealthy Jews. This fact in and of itself made this move great for me because I saw the people that I grew up with portrayed in this film. My family was not wealthy, but I had a lot of friends in the synagogue I grew up in whose families had money. This family is not only dysfunctional, but also has some bad karma with things going from bad to worse quite rapidly. This is again an excellent look inside the modern American family and the dysfunction that has become normal within our families.
The most interesting element to this whole film is that the story entitled "fiction" seems the most true and the story entitled "nonfiction" seems the least true of the two. But both stories are so true to life that either could be titled "fiction" or "nonfiction". Again I recommend this film if you liked the other Todd Soldonz films or are looking for an independent film where you will be challenged to think and really examine the current state of affairs in American society.