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A (Slightly) Lighter Shade of Dark with ‘Dark Horse’

by Naomi Pfefferman

July 18, 2012 | 5:24 pm

Jordan Gelber and Donna Murphy in "Dark Horse." Photo courtesy of Brainstorm Media

Jordan Gelber and Donna Murphy in "Dark Horse." Photo courtesy of Brainstorm Media

The last time I interviewed Todd Solondz—one of independent cinema’s most acidic provocateurs—he joked that his agents were thrilled with his black comedy “Dark Horse” “because there’s no child molestation, masturbation or rape in it.”

“I was being a little bit flip,” Solondz said more recently, speaking by phone from the Czech Republic, where “Dark Horse” was screening in advance of its July 27 United States premiere. Even so, he admitted, he deliberately avoided the kind of “hot-button” topics that had sparked outrage in some quarters upon the release of his previous cringe-fests: Think sexually charged prepubescent bullying (“Welcome to the Dollhouse”), pedophilia (“Happiness”), abusive interracial sex (“Storytelling”) and a smug Jewish family, obsessed with the Holocaust, whose members are gassed to death by a disgruntled housekeeper (also “Storytelling”).

“I was feeling burdened by all that I had addressed in my films,” Solondz, 52, said with a sigh in his trademark halting whine. “If I were to deal again with these sorts of subject matters, it might feel clichéd, or as if I were trying to shock for shock’s sake. But you don’t need those sorts of subjects to shock and surprise and provoke people.”

Read the rest at The Ticket.

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