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Life During Wartime (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (2010)

Shirley Henderson , Allison Janney , Todd Solondz  |  R |  Blu-ray
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

List Price: $39.95
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Region 28039 encoding (This DVD will not play on most DVD players sold in the US or Canada [Region 1]. This item requires a region specific or multi-region DVD player and compatible TV. More about DVD formats.)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Shirley Henderson, Allison Janney, Ally Sheedy, Ciaran Hinds, Paul Reubens
  • Directors: Todd Solondz
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Color, NTSC, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: July 26, 2011
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004WPYO38
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,828 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Life During Wartime (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Special Features

New digital transfer, supervised and approved by director of photography

"Ask Todd," an audio Q&A with director Todd Solondz

Making "Life During Wartime," a new documentary featuring interviews with actors

New video piece in which Lachman discusses his work on the film

Original theatrical trailer

PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Sterritt


Editorial Reviews

In Life During Wartime, independent filmmaker Todd Solondz (Welcome to the Dollhouse) explores contemporary American existence and the nature of forgiveness with his customary dry humor and queasy precision. The film functions as a distorted mirror image of Solondz’s acclaimed 1998 dark comedy Happiness, its emotionally stunted characters now groping for the possibility of change in a post-9/11 world. Happiness’s grim New Jersey setting is transposed to sunny Florida, but the biggest twist is that new actors fill the roles originated in the earlier film--including Shirley Henderson (Topsy-Turvy), Allison Janney (The Ice Storm), and Ally Sheedy (The Breakfast Club) as alarmingly dissimilar sisters, and Ciaran Hinds (Persuasion) hauntingly embodying a reformed pedophile. Shot in expressionistic tones by cinematographer extraordinaire Ed Lachman (Far from Heaven), Solondz’s film finds the humor in the tragic and the tragic in the everyday.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format:Blu-ray
Without a doubt, Todd Solondz's creepy, disturbing, and subversively hilarious masterpiece "Happiness" was my favorite film of 1998. Savage, but divisive, I've discovered through the years that the film tends to engender strong feelings of either hatred or of adoration with little middle ground. To be fair, with its mature themes and aggressive frankness, it may be one of the most squirm inducing comedies of all time. And yet this tale of three sisters and their immediate family also resonates with a certain amount of truth. The world is how we construct it but, often times, that construction is nothing more than an illusion. And those closest to us are either complicit in that deceit or are the only ones who can see through the cracks. A skewering of middle class ideals and insecurities, "Happiness" was a pitch perfect blend of the outrageous and the macabre.

When I heard that Solondz intended to revisit this masterpiece, casting new actors, it seemed like an inspired addition to his increasingly non-conformist resume. Shirley Henderson, Allison Janney and Ally Sheedy now inhabit the roles originated by Jane Adams, Cynthia Stevenson, and Lara Flynn Boyle respectively. All three do an excellent job of recapturing the essence of their character's neuroses--Sheedy, unfortunately, has more of a cameo but her scenes are dead-on hilarious. The film begins with an absolutely perfect scene between Henderson and her husband that mirrors the first scene from "Happiness" in a sublimely funny way. When we move on to Janney, a control freak desperately looking for love, I knew that Solondz had done it again. The primary plot points involve Henderson dealing with a past lover's suicide (Jon Lovitz's ghost interpreted by Paul Reubens--inspired!
Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Solondz's most bizarre film, but close October 5, 2011
Format:DVD
A few years ago I watched this film at a local art house. A few days ago I was making coffee and it must have been the swirling motion in my cup (as I stirred in the cream and sugar) that hypnotized me, causing the resurfacing of a few repressed memories - namely from this film.

As I recall, there were about seven or eight other people in the theater, most of whom were sitting by themselves and probably not mentally prepared for the hour and a half long ride of horrifying abnormality and sheer discomfort that is typical of director Todd Solondz's films, which according to Wikipedia are inspired by his experiences growing up in New Jersey - and I BELIEVE IT, wholeheartedly. So, why did I give five stars to this film? Mainly because of the circumstances under which I watched it. As I mentioned, Solondz's films are abnormal and discomforting, which made watching this film amongst complete strangers in a dark theater and from the back row quite amusing. Like in true horror movie fashion it was not uncommon to see people sinking down into their chairs, letting out sharp gasps and sighs, covering their faces, and turning their heads disapprovingly from side to side. As for myself, I too was taken by surprise, especially when the young boy (Timmy) cries out "I hope I NEVER get molested!" At that point I pretty much lost control and had to gag myself with my coat because I didn't want to appear rude and insensitive towards the subject matter or attract the glaring faces of the combined seven or eight people in the audience. I think this movie really got the better of some people.

Without question, this is the work of Todd Solondz.
Was this review helpful to you?
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Amazon Instant Video
Without a doubt, Todd Solondz's creepy, disturbing, and subversively hilarious masterpiece "Happiness" was my favorite film of 1998. Savage, but divisive, I've discovered through the years that the film tends to engender strong feelings of either hatred or of adoration with little middle ground. To be fair, with its mature themes and aggressive frankness, it may be one of the most squirm inducing comedies of all time. And yet this tale of three sisters and their immediate family also resonates with a certain amount of truth. The world is how we construct it but, often times, that construction is nothing more than an illusion. And those closest to us are either complicit in that deceit or are the only ones who can see through the cracks. A skewering of middle class ideals and insecurities, "Happiness" was a pitch perfect blend of the outrageous and the macabre.

When I heard that Solondz intended to revisit this masterpiece, casting new actors, it seemed like an inspired addition to his increasingly non-conformist resume. Shirley Henderson, Allison Janney and Ally Sheedy now inhabit the roles originated by Jane Adams, Cynthia Stevenson, and Lara Flynn Boyle respectively. All three do an excellent job of recapturing the essence of their character's neuroses--Sheedy, unfortunately, has more of a cameo but her scenes are dead-on hilarious. The film begins with an absolutely perfect scene between Henderson and her husband that mirrors the first scene from "Happiness" in a sublimely funny way. When we move on to Janney, a control freak desperately looking for love, I knew that Solondz had done it again. The primary plot points involve Henderson dealing with a past lover's suicide (Jon Lovitz's ghost interpreted by Paul Reubens--inspired!
Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars ELECTRIC GUITAR
this film is good. a break up scene at the beginning makes everyone laugh uproariously. is the man dead or alive. is the father real or imagined. Read more
Published 1 month ago by gcd
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth Seeing but Not Solondz's Best
The acting was really good as always and it makes you feel uncomfortable, as always. But there was nothing new or horribly risky. Read more
Published 8 months ago by C. Villarreal
5.0 out of 5 stars great film, check it out
Solonze is a master at what he does, he is the most original voice in indie cinema today!!! !!!!! !!!!!
Published 9 months ago by Sjur03
4.0 out of 5 stars Differnt
I like movies that standout and this one is different for sure. It picks up where happiness left off. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Miggaddymugsy
2.0 out of 5 stars Horrible Description by Amazon
Amazon's description says this is a "hilarious new film." I got a few uncomfortable chuckles out of it, but "hilarious" is not the right word. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Number1Framer
2.0 out of 5 stars War zone
I was so much looking forward to this movie, but it didn't live up to the trailer, which showed the best parts of the dialogue. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Michael
2.0 out of 5 stars Three out of five berets, ZZZzzzzzzzzz.......
Spare me.

Pretentious, art-house nonsense like this has to be made I guess, for some reason; but does it have to be THIS boring?? Read more
Published on December 8, 2011 by H. A Huffman
5.0 out of 5 stars A more adult sequel to Happiness
A more adult sequel to Happiness with a new cast reinterpreting the characters. Brings a new reevaluation of how we perceive them them and layers of complexity, especially with... Read more
Published on August 25, 2011 by R. Hall
1.0 out of 5 stars terrible
This had to be one of the worst movies I have ever seen. The characters were dismal, the subject matter was tragic and it was so slow.
Published on August 18, 2011 by M. Illuminato
3.0 out of 5 stars Tries too hard to be weird....but shows promise for director Todd...
As expected, Criterion releases another excellent package here. Starting with beautiful artwork on the cover and inside the booklet insert. Read more
Published on August 10, 2011 by VAMPYRE XX
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