Todd Solondz’s human comedies are so dark, and so filled with awkward and humiliating behavior, that it’s sometimes hard to see the humor. (The great satirist Luis Bunuel, in contrast, made it easier for audiences to laugh by outfitting his characters with expensive clothes, social status, and a shellac of dignity before jubilantly lancing their self-delusions.) Solondz’s miserably ordinary folks tend to be their own worst enemies, screwing up whatever crumbs of good fortune they do manage, but the empathy of the filmmaker (Happiness, Life During Wartime) is undeniable -- well, on the second or third viewing. Dark Horse, his latest portrait of tenacious misfits and serial relationship-bunglers, follows an overweight, underachieving 30-something (Jordan Gelber) who sets his unwavering sights on a numbly unimpressed Selma Blair. With the deadpan “support” of his Jewish parents, played by Christopher Walken and Mia Farrow in a piece of delicious NYC casting, our “hero” bets on love, or companionship, or some variation thereof, risking a total shellacking. As a bonus, the thoughtful Solondz introduces tonight’s screening.
Thu., July 19, 9 p.m., 2012