I have fallen way behind schedule again, so these will be brief review-dumps.
LIFE-ANIMATED is the inspiring and heartwarming story of Ron Suskind's son Owen. At the age of three, Owen became withdrawn. Shortly thereafter, he was diagnosed as autistic (Pervasive Developmental Disorder.) Unable to communicate, make friends, etc. He was pretty much doomed to live a pretty difficult, lonely life. Until they realized the gibberish he was supposedly speaking was actually his attempt to quote Disney cartoons, and that was how he was trying to communicate. And he built a life, and relationships, based on that. As a film fan, I gotta say it's really pretty cool to see this art form that has brought me so much joy--but which I still see as just an extreme hobby--bring so much more to something else. These aren't just telling stories...or rather, stories aren't just pastimes...they're bringing life. And that's awesome.
WIENER-DOG is Todd Solondz's long-awaited sorta-sequel to WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE (even after he killed off Dawn Wiener in PALINDROMES.) I gotta start by saying that as a Wiener myself, WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE--all about how much junior high sucks when your name is Wiener--is a very important movie to me. And while his humor is pitch-black (and still is) it's a bit more playful by now (like...maybe he's calmed down a bit and softened some of his roughest edges.) The main character is actually not Dawn Wiener, but a daschund, who goes through several stories spreading joy...or diarrhea...to his succession of owners. Dawn Wiener does show up, all grown up now. And as appealing as Greta Gerwig is (and she does a fine job) Heater Matarazzo will always be my Dawn Wiener. But let's not dwell on the past too much.
Total Running Time: 181 minutes
My Total Minutes: 428,803