Peter Greenaway packs more creativity, beauty, and originality into the first 25 minutes of The Cook, The Thief.... than Solondz has managed to exhibit in all of his overrated movies combined.
Your definition of the word "hack" must be a universe away from mine.
Indeed. To me, all of Greenaway's work that I've seen is boring, pretentious, borderline-unwatchable shit. The only film of his I've seen that I've even remotely liked was ZOO. But even that was pretentious. Greenaway's personality bugs me, his take on "cinema" bugs me, and his ideas of what is entertaining bugs me.
Solondz's work spoilers.
Solondz, OTOH, is incredibly creative, brave, insightful, and witty. I haven't seen his first feature length film (Fear, Anxiety & Depression), but I have seen the main three he's known for. Welcome to the Dollhouse was an incredibly apt portrait of what middle school is really like, especially for an outsider.
Happiness was great because even though it went over the top, it addressed the problems of all these people in a unique, memorable way. My only beef with it is its striving to be controversial; a lot of the scenes that caused a ruckus (PSH using semen as an adhesive, Manheim chopping up her super for trying to rape her, the kid "coming" and the dog licking it up, and the whole pederasty story) weren't entirely necessary. But that's what also made it work.
But what I really admire about Solondz the most is his last film, Storytelling. Both the fiction and non-fiction sections are brilliant satire with heart. Solondz is able to make fun of himself, other movies, filmmaking, and his critics, while responding to criticisms and crafting a compelling story. Greenaway can't do any of this because he's too caught up in numbers, lists, boring sex, allegory, and pretention after pretention after pretention of his ideas of what "good cinema" should be. It's pathetic and ridiculous.