FILMMAKER Todd Solondz has always relished in exploring people's darker thoughts in mundane, often domestic settings.

As such his uncompromisingly black comedies are an acquired taste, sitting somewhere between uncomfortable viewing and socially conscious satire.

The New Jersey director rose to prominence with the skewered coming-of-age film, Welcome To The Dollhouse, and then the more controversial Happiness, which featured a paedophile among its troubled characters, became his cult hit, winning the International Critics' Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

The problem is when you set out to shock where do you go from there?

Dark satire appears to really be the only tool in Solondz's skillset which has led, arguably, to diminishing returns from the 57-year-old filmmaker.

So here we are with his eighth film, Wiener-Dog where a dachshund is used as a narrative device to connect a number of disparate characters.

The dog passes from one oddball owner to the next and the pet's time with each set of characters basically amounts to a series of sketches.

This gives Solondz – in his usual deadpan way – the opportunity to explore class, domestic life, relationships, selfishness, the head-on collision between the old and new generation, lost opportunities and mortality.

You see how 'Wiener-Dog' helps and hinders these lost souls.

The problem is that the film, on the whole, is not as cutting as some of Solondz's previous work and when the director does set out to shock it is usually just by being crude.

But there is some strange joy in watching the interactions between Solondz's off kilter characters play out. It is like looking in a goldfish bowl.

Stilted, awkward conversations have become the director's signature and it is still intriguing seeing renowned actors transform into these poor sods in front of your eyes.

Greta Gerwig and Danny DeVito steal the show in that regard.

But we need something fresh from Solondz now. He has been treading this sort of ground for more than 20 years and it is getting pretty tired.

RATING: 4/10