Todd Solondz' interesting-but-flawed film that's split into two segments. The first (which is widely considered the superior half), "Fiction", is about a co-ed who has a sexual encounter with her professor, then has second thoughts and writes about it as a rape. It's a bit of a critic-answer but Solondz shows again that he's one of the only people who can actually get away with having a character say exactly what his point is (see also: Palindromes) – As soon as it's written, it becomes fiction.
To hammer the point the rest of the way home, "Non-Fiction" is an answer to two films Solondz hated, American Beauty (which I enjoyed) and American Movie (not so much). It's about a suburban Jewish family in New Jersey and a Solondz-Stand-In (played by Paul Giamatti) who wants to do a documentary on the oldest son, a shiftless loser who hates school and wants to host a late night talk show ("Like Conan, or early Letterman"). The movie ends up making his family a laughing stock (despite Giamatti's character's protests that he loves these people) and, well, a bunch of other stuff happens that I don't want to spoil.
Anyway, though, it's an interesting film; not Solondz' best (but not his worst, either – that's the disowned Fear, Anxiety and Depression). The "Non-Fiction" section is a bit heavy-handed (the documentary is called "American Scooby", for example, and there's a bit that's a lift of the famous plastic-bag scene from American Beauty, and Mike Schank from American Movie appears as well), but makes some decent points (and is about the only thing I've seen where someone's actually pissed off about Chris Smith's handling of Mark Borchardt in American Movie). I'm not as sold on his beef with American Beauty – which from interviews seemed to mainly be that it made small things like Homosexuality a Big Deal (which I agree with Solondz that homosexuality isn't a big deal – honestly, who cares? – but I disagree that that was one of the main points with American Beauty. And, hey, I really liked that one, so…). But hey, it's still interesting, if flawed.
Storytelling though, is most famous for a scene in Fiction which played in theaters in the US with an R rating, obtained by placing a big red box over a sex scene, rather than cutting it out of the film. The DVD has both the R-rated version and the Unrated version (with the scene displayed, as it played outside of the US). Solondz argued that he wanted people to know exactly what they weren't being allowed to see, which explains the bright red color of the hiding-box (and more power to him on that – particularly since the scene isn't even particularly graphic!).