Author Topic: Todd Haynes  (Read 16840 times)

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MacGuffin

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Todd Haynes
« on: November 20, 2003, 10:38:28 AM »
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Disaffected directors like David Lynch study the world through a forensic lens, offering up movies like suburban autopsies. Todd Haynes, meanwhile, attacks social convention with a more viral approach, telling outsider stories from the inside. Perhaps you know his cult short-film debut, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, in which Haynes used a Barbie doll to play the anorexic '70s chanteuse and still managed to craft a more sincere portrait than most live-action biopics. His next three features -- Poison, Safe and Velvet Goldmine -- detonated even deeper beneath our collective skin, daring to puncture audience complacency with the shrapnel of self-examination. In relatively short order, Haynes has proven himself a master at deconstructing repressed identity and artifice, themes he pushes even further in his new film, Far From Heaven. The movie, which stars Julianne Moore as a '50s housewife who seeks companionship from her black gardener after discovering that her husband is gay, is nostalgically styled in the tradition of Douglas Sirk's melodrama All That Heaven Allows, but actually serves as a much more contemporary critique. Now, in his own words, Todd Haynes reveals five films that provoke hisimagination.
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All That Heaven Allows
(1955, dir: Douglas Sirk, starring: Jane Wyman, Rock Hudson)
There's a beautiful film called All That Heaven Allows that my film draws a great deal from. Rock Hudson's a sort of visionary gardener who reads Thoreau, and Jane Wyman's a widow who's older than him, and they strike up a friendship that sort of scandalizes their very pent-up social world. Sirk reached a sort of apex in his filmmaking in the '50s, and there is something different from his stories about women than what we might call "women's films" from the '40s or the '30s that often starred Bette Davis or Katharine Hepburn, who became far more dazzling, charismatic, strong, striking figures than most of us know in life. What's really poignant about the Sirk films is that they're about very ordinary, limited people who struggle with very basic social pressures and prejudices and often don't come out heroic on the other end. They often buckle under the pressures of their worlds, and I love that about these films. What films today would sort of end with is Kathy coming home and saying, "Oh, Cybil, I've spent my whole life in the shadow of the men around me, and I've lost everything, but now I know who I really am." It would sort of articulate what she's learned for you, and these films didn't do that. Their characters were very mute in that way, and I think that demands you to think more about what's going to happen to them. A lot of films that do everything for you leave you with nothing to do at the end, and I think that's robbing spectators of a terrific potential.  

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
(1974, dir: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, starring: Brigitte Mira, El Hedi ben Salem)
Another film that I would put on my list is Fassbinder's beautiful remake of [All That Heaven Allows], called Ali: Fear Eats the Soul in America. He took the same basic ideas and applied it, as he often did, so brilliantly to contemporary German culture, where the woman was actually in her sixties, a female janitor who cleans bathrooms. She stumbles into a Turkish bar one evening in the rain and sees this hugely tall, handsome 20-something-year-old black Turk, and they strike up a friendship that becomes romantic. It's just a really beautiful, poignant movie that follows All That Heaven Allows very closely, more than my film ultimately does, but in a really brilliant way. He turned it into something having much more to do with the sort of repressed and conflicting social realms in Germany in the '70s, particularly with tensions between minority cultures and German working-class cultures at that time. All of his films have those sort of rigorous politics involved even if he almost always uses the melodrama as the form, but this manages to be really touching and moving. It's the only direct adaptation of a Sirk film that I know of that came before Far From Heaven.

Night of the Hunter
(1955, dir: Charles Laughton, starring: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters)
It's just a magnificently radical movie for the period in which it's made. I mean, just simply at the level of the use of the image, the shadows, the lighting, the amazingly evocative scenes on the river with the kids and those animals in the foreground. It has a gorgeous understanding of artifice, that films are allegorical basically, and it embraces that idea fully. It's a story of a little boy and girl whose father gets shot when he steals money, and they're enlisted to hide the money even beyond the eyes of his widow, who Shelley Winters. And Robert Mitchum plays this completely evil pseudo-minister who met the father in prison, so his quest is to get the money out of these kids' hands, and he does it with all the manipulations of love and power and dominance over them. It's just a really exquisite journey that the film takes, and basic binaries are called into question at the end. It's a film about good-and-evil and love-and-hate (as depicted in Robert Mitchum's knuckle tattoos), but I think the way the little kid's feelings for his father end up mirroring his feelings for Robert Mitchum is what completely severs me at the end of that film.

2001: A Space Odyssey
(1968, dir: Stanley Kubrick, starring: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood)
It's an astoundingly experimental, formally experimental film in every way. It's just shocking when you go to see it again and you realize how much time is spent watching a triangle move into a rectangle or a sphere into a cone. It's almost the most basic geometric reduction of narrative conflict. It's powerful in its restraint, and then in its sort of muscular expanse as well, almost at a philosophical level. I applied a lot of its style and restraint and use of beautiful sustained long shots and controlled zooms to my film Safe, which is about Los Angeles in the '80s and the story of a housewife encountering her toxic intolerance to her environment. To me, it was a really interesting metaphor for a way of dealing with an increasingly controlled environment that we all live in, controlled by technology and by chemicals. Almost the sense of being in an airport where everything is modulated, the air, and the speed that you walk down runways, and every aspect of life is determined by our machines and technology.

Performance
(1970, dir: Donald Cammell and Nicholas Roeg, starring: James Fox, Mick Jagger)
It's just a wonderfully rich use of cinematic language, with the strongest, most provocative and radical aspects of the medium being used through editing and cutting. But also it's a really rich depiction of that cultural moment, that climate of sexual questioning and the mutability of sexual and other forms of identity. It was definitely an inspiration, maybe my prime inspiration for Velvet Goldmine in terms of style, sort of a fusion of experimental film meeting rock culture and drug culture that was beginning to come into mainstream venues in surprising ways in the late '60s and early '70s. It's about the London underworld in the late '60s. James Fox is a kind of a thug connected to the Mob, and he has to go into hiding and finds this exiled rock icon and his crazy entourage of characters, and sort of ends up being indoctrinated into this out-of-time world where drugs and dressing up and constant questions about transformation and identity are sort of the rules of the game. He transforms, and there's this strange kind of psychological bonding that goes on between him and the Mick Jagger character that's both sexual and plays with their opposites. Part of what's great about these movies and what sort of elicits young people's obsessions is they're sort of begging for interpretation and their wonderful blurriness and their provocative allure of ideas.
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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godardian

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Todd Haynes
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2003, 10:42:11 AM »
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Oh, Todd... my hero....

All his picks are swell, of course. And so nice to see him finally get his own thread... thanks, MacG!
""Money doesn't come into it. It never has. I do what I do because it's all that I am." - Morrissey

"Lacan stressed more and more in his work the power and organizing principle of the symbolic, understood as the networks, social, cultural, and linguistic, into which a child is born. These precede the birth of a child, which is why Lacan can say that language is there from before the actual moment of birth. It is there in the social structures which are at play in the family and, of course, in the ideals, goals, and histories of the parents. This world of language can hardly be grasped by the newborn and yet it will act on the whole of the child's existence."

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classical gas

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« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2003, 08:43:47 PM »
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I've put off on seeing "Far From Heaven" for quite some time now.  I'm afraid that it will be a sappy melodrama.  I guess it comes from the title and the fact that it's set in the 40's, 50's?  I know I should never assume, because I've been surprised by films many, many times; so can someone reassure me on it's greatness (for lack of a better word, i'm tired...)

godardian

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« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2003, 09:07:22 PM »
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Quote from: classical gas
I've put off on seeing "Far From Heaven" for quite some time now.  I'm afraid that it will be a sappy melodrama.  I guess it comes from the title and the fact that it's set in the 40's, 50's?  I know I should never assume, because I've been surprised by films many, many times; so can someone reassure me on it's greatness (for lack of a better word, i'm tired...)


If it's real greatness you're after, see Safe first.

I think Far from Heaven really captures the self-consciousness of the sappy melodrama... it's not "ironic" in its form or content at all, but there's an eerie tension between its very bold use of melodrama and color and its more modern themes.

It has something visual there even if you're not into the kind of story it is. Which is, yes, very melodramatic and based on the "weepie." Mr. Haynes is very aware of the more troubling domain touched upon by the "weepie," though, and he uses great restraint and care in infusing the melodrama with his more contemporary concerns.
""Money doesn't come into it. It never has. I do what I do because it's all that I am." - Morrissey

"Lacan stressed more and more in his work the power and organizing principle of the symbolic, understood as the networks, social, cultural, and linguistic, into which a child is born. These precede the birth of a child, which is why Lacan can say that language is there from before the actual moment of birth. It is there in the social structures which are at play in the family and, of course, in the ideals, goals, and histories of the parents. This world of language can hardly be grasped by the newborn and yet it will act on the whole of the child's existence."

Stay informed on protecting your freedom of speech and civil rights.

classical gas

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« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2003, 09:14:20 PM »
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they have "Safe" on netflix, and it's got julianne moore, i'll definitely get it.  it sounds really good, i can't believe i've never heard of it.  i guess melodrama isn't always bad, as long as it isn't a Lifetime movie...
he also did 'velvet goldmine'; my manager at this video store i worked at used to rave about it.

godardian

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« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2003, 10:22:32 PM »
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Quote from: classical gas
they have "Safe" on netflix, and it's got julianne moore, i'll definitely get it.  it sounds really good, i can't believe i've never heard of it.  i guess melodrama isn't always bad, as long as it isn't a Lifetime movie...
he also did 'velvet goldmine'; my manager at this video store i worked at used to rave about it.


Safe and Velvet Goldmine are both really good... Velvet Goldmine is maybe more niche-oriented, though. I mean, I think there are really good things there for any film fan, but you might not get as excited about it unless you're familiar with the sociocultural implications of the glitter-rock bands of the 70s (Bowie, Roxy Music, T. Rex, et. al) and the dominant ideologies of eras. He uses the Bowie template from the '70s and contrasts it with the relatively homogenized Bowie template from the '80s as a kind of commentary on that. Don't go looking for biography, either though; it's very fictionalized, very allegorical.

In pure cinematic terms, it's like Performance meets Citizen Kane. Many people apparently found this a wet mixture; also, Miramax advertised it as something much more conventional than it was, so although it may have failed at the box office anyway, it didn't ever get a chance to succeed or fail on its own terms.

Me, I must have gone to see it about a dozen times when it was released. The next movie I did that for was Magnolia.
""Money doesn't come into it. It never has. I do what I do because it's all that I am." - Morrissey

"Lacan stressed more and more in his work the power and organizing principle of the symbolic, understood as the networks, social, cultural, and linguistic, into which a child is born. These precede the birth of a child, which is why Lacan can say that language is there from before the actual moment of birth. It is there in the social structures which are at play in the family and, of course, in the ideals, goals, and histories of the parents. This world of language can hardly be grasped by the newborn and yet it will act on the whole of the child's existence."

Stay informed on protecting your freedom of speech and civil rights.

godardian

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« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2003, 10:53:52 PM »
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Quote from: MrBurgerKing
Here's my comment about Velvet Goldmine.. I admit, I'd fallen victim to that film, and I absolutely hated it. It's just not for me though.. Those ridiculous bands and musicians, that whole era.. horrible.. I used to hear the phrase 'you cannot ask an elephant to piss out chocolate.' Still, Safe and Far From Heaven are pretty exciting works, hopefully they represent just the tip of an iceberg.


Yeah... if you really don't like the music, there's little chance you'll like the film. I was always excited by that era in music (that and punk were maybe the two last really invigorating eras of pop- as it went in the movies that decade, so it went in the music as far as expending horizons and becoming more savvy and self-conscious). I really wouldn't characterize it as "ridiculous" at all, Mr. BK, in fact it was quite humorously intellectual and steeped in a real knowledge and love of pop culture. In my opinion. It's not like it was King Crimson or disco, or anything. :)

Still, I'd say Safe and Far from Heaven, and then if you're in love, give Velvet Goldmine a whirl.
""Money doesn't come into it. It never has. I do what I do because it's all that I am." - Morrissey

"Lacan stressed more and more in his work the power and organizing principle of the symbolic, understood as the networks, social, cultural, and linguistic, into which a child is born. These precede the birth of a child, which is why Lacan can say that language is there from before the actual moment of birth. It is there in the social structures which are at play in the family and, of course, in the ideals, goals, and histories of the parents. This world of language can hardly be grasped by the newborn and yet it will act on the whole of the child's existence."

Stay informed on protecting your freedom of speech and civil rights.

Ernie

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« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2003, 08:19:13 PM »
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I just recently, meaning like only an hour or so ago, fell in love with Far From Heaven on my second viewing. I had seen it in theatres with an annoying cold on a freezing New York day the first time so that's probably why I didn't connect with it in the first place. Just wanted to reverse any the times I may have dubbed FFH as mediocre or any of that, it is a great film, I gotta say. And I had no idea Soderbergh and Clooney produced it. That just makes me feel good, I don't know why...I could just see Haynes and Clooney and Soderbergh talking about Douglas Sirk together and having fun making this movie...I've never even seen a Douglas Sirk film but I don't know, it still makes me feel good. I will definitely be checking out Sirk now of course as well as Fassbinder, I've always meant to check both of them out.

Oh yea, I'll be renting Safe very soon too, I heard David Gordon Green is a fan which is pretty cool. This reminds me of it.

Hey godardian - do you think that Ali movie would be a good Fassbinder flick to start with?

cowboykurtis

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« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2003, 08:42:57 PM »
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Quote from: godardian


If it's real greatness you're after, see Safe first.

It has something visual there even if you're not into the kind of story it is. .


id agree with this statement -- superb visual storytelling. however i feel the film doesnt amount to much. if hes measning to make a statement on our detremental effects on the enviorment, he'd be better suited making a public service anouncment. if he is simply studying this woman's condition/character i feel its a bit benign. the first two acts were wonderful. once she is a patient at the "camp" i thought it fell apart -- it just didn't resonante with me.
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godardian

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« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2003, 09:15:43 PM »
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WARNING: Possible "spoilers."


Quote from: cowboykurtis
Quote from: godardian


If it's real greatness you're after, see Safe first.

It has something visual there even if you're not into the kind of story it is. .


id agree with this statement -- superb visual storytelling. however i feel the film doesnt amount to much. if hes measning to make a statement on our detremental effects on the enviorment, he'd be better suited making a public service anouncment. if he is simply studying this woman's condition/character i feel its a bit benign. the first two acts were wonderful. once she is a patient at the "camp" i thought it fell apart -- it just didn't resonante with me.


I actually feel that both those interpretations are off the mark, though. It's her docility that comes into question- the effectiveness of the film comes from the tension of her being so complacent, and the marked lack of any real difference in efffect between her suburban "trap" and the New Age "retreat." I see it as a fable about conformity without the expected sneering and diminution of the conformist; instead, it tries to understand her, observe her life and her actions, see how very, very easy and desirable it can seem to give your identity to something outside yourself, to unburden yourself of the responsibility and feelings and doubt you'd have to go through to shape your own identity and question the things around you, regardless of what they are.

The environmental thing is a total Macguffin. Safe is not a public service announcement against pollution or for New Age/holistic thought, not in the least. It's about conformity, identity, and the way our culture discourages people from actively, critically thinking, instead encouraging victims to blame themselves. It's about how there's always someone who will give you words to mouth so you don't have to think and really see your situation and the world around you for what it is, and how there's never any shortage of people willing to do just that, to their own detriment.

The protagonist is not liberated in any way at the end- this is not a movie that is pushing a specific method of liberation. It is an extremely opaque, deceptively concrete film. Because of the style, you're forced to consider everything you're seeing- whether it's her life in affluent suburbia or her life at the retreat- very thoroughly. Without being "ironic," there is a huge distance between the "plot" and what we actually see. The plot is intentionally that of a Lifetime movie; what we actually see runs directly counter to that "here's the problem, here's the solution" kind of storytelling.

This is why it's so chilling when she has her "breakthrough" at the end. Haynes has said that the real moment of breakthrough is in the middle, when she become angry in the hospital; it's the first time we see her actively engaged, asserting herself. But that can't last; by the end, she's given over her identity to something new, she's obeying it down to the last, most ridiculous letter, and... she's sicker than ever.
""Money doesn't come into it. It never has. I do what I do because it's all that I am." - Morrissey

"Lacan stressed more and more in his work the power and organizing principle of the symbolic, understood as the networks, social, cultural, and linguistic, into which a child is born. These precede the birth of a child, which is why Lacan can say that language is there from before the actual moment of birth. It is there in the social structures which are at play in the family and, of course, in the ideals, goals, and histories of the parents. This world of language can hardly be grasped by the newborn and yet it will act on the whole of the child's existence."

Stay informed on protecting your freedom of speech and civil rights.

classical gas

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« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2004, 02:47:10 AM »
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I just saw "Safe" and thought it was an amazing film.  I won't embarrass myself by trying to explain the film, as Godardian's post above does it better than I ever could.  I just wanted to give my respect for the movie here.  
I do have to say that the final scene of this movie reminded me of the final scene of "Clockwork Orange".  Although, the two films don't share the exact same themes, I was reminded of the 'Clockwork' scene after the film concluded.

(I could be way off; I haven't seen "Clockwork" in a few years)

godardian

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« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2004, 11:05:59 AM »
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Quote from: classical gas
I just saw "Safe" and thought it was an amazing film.  I won't embarrass myself by trying to explain the film, as Godardian's post above does it better than I ever could.  I just wanted to give my respect for the movie here.  
I do have to say that the final scene of this movie reminded me of the final scene of "Clockwork Orange".  Although, the two films don't share the exact same themes, I was reminded of the 'Clockwork' scene after the film concluded.

(I could be way off; I haven't seen "Clockwork" in a few years)


You're spot on, CG: Kubrick was a huge influence on the film, though it was specifically more 2001 than Clockwork Orange.

So glad you found it amazing! Obviously, I completely agree. It's one of my personally most important movies.
""Money doesn't come into it. It never has. I do what I do because it's all that I am." - Morrissey

"Lacan stressed more and more in his work the power and organizing principle of the symbolic, understood as the networks, social, cultural, and linguistic, into which a child is born. These precede the birth of a child, which is why Lacan can say that language is there from before the actual moment of birth. It is there in the social structures which are at play in the family and, of course, in the ideals, goals, and histories of the parents. This world of language can hardly be grasped by the newborn and yet it will act on the whole of the child's existence."

Stay informed on protecting your freedom of speech and civil rights.

ono

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« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2004, 09:57:34 PM »
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I just got finished watching Poison.  Spoilers possible.  I think a good way to describe it is fascinating, yet impenetrable and frustrating.  Clearly, Haynes got his start with his themes here (or with Superstar), defining himself as an auteur from the get-go.  All throughout the "Horror" segment I kept thinking over and over again about Safe and Far From Heaven.  Unfortunately, "Horror" started out being most interesting and faded into obscurity as a parody of a parody of yet ANOTHER parody.  First it sends up sci-fi, but then it becomes a joke on itself.  The cinematography in that section, and the use of black and white, were both perfect, and it's a shame Haynes didn't try to say even more than I believe he did, because the obvious route, I think, is to go for the overt satire, and I think that's his prime failing.

I couldn't be less interested in the "Homo" segment.  It was generally just boring, though it definitely a unique look at the hierarchy of prison inmates.  Had I not known Shawshank came after this, I would've thought this ripped it off, but there are no real solid parallels, and only the setting is remotely similar.  The scene outdoors near the end with the inmates forcing one of their own to hold his mouth open while they spit into it from a distance is one of the most overtly pornographic, disturbing, and at the same time compelling I've ever seen.  I can see where there it would lose most of its audience.  It's so incredibly surreal a scene, unbelievable in its feasibility and the fact that Haynes was actually able to film it, and it kept reminded me of the stereotypical Japanese fascination with bukkake.  (If you don't know, don't ask, but if you can't look at that man's face at the end without feeling some sort of churning in your stomach ... well, I don't know if that says more about you, more about me, or more about the fact that that probably was Haynes' point in the first place.)

"Hero" was by far the best segment.  From the get-go I was captivated by the premise - boy shoots his dad and flies away.  It seems like something out of a dream or fractured fairy tale.  And the deeper you get into the story, the more you realize something isn't right here, and the more you begin to draw parallels to the other stories.  And of course, that has to be the point for the film to HAVE any point.

More observations: The young boy was some sort of angel of judgment, sent to judge both the mother and father.  But who is he punishing?  The mother, for being unfaithful, or the father, for beating the mother?  He's also beat his son, a ritual the son reenacts, forcing a classmate at school to spank him in the P.E. equipment room.  That he "flies away" is the most beautiful part of this whole film, something one really can't put into words.  He didn't just disappear.  He did his duty, and left, leaving his mother to know what he was, and to give her some sort of vague clue as to what his purpose was, even if in her telling this to others it does make her out to be crazy.

In "Horror," there are parallels to Safe and Far From Heaven.  The enviroment being a cause for sickness (in this case it's sexual, which is the parallel to "Homo"), and the ostracization one feels from being "different" in society - see Far From Heaven.  There was so much more material here that again, it's a shame Haynes went for sci-fi spoof.  The sexual libido serum was an excellent premise, yet the scientific mumbo jumbo and damsel overacting was not.

"Homo" again is the weak link.  It seems only to be there to express Haynes' own feelings of alienation at being gay, and he does this so astutely that I can forgive him for the section not being more compelling.  The audio was bad in some sections of "Homo", which hurt my understanding of the scenes and plot, and there were no closed captions or subtitles, which is one of my pet peeves as far as DVDs and VHSs are concerned.

Bottom line, check out this film, yo.  Stylistically, it's totally unique, with its weird score, lighting, cinematography, framing of shots, basically everything.  I'm not saying that this is how a story SHOULD be told, but people should take to heart that this is how it CAN be told.  SoNowThen raved about how My Life to Live was special because of Godard's new way of telling a story.  Haynes does one better here, and while it is shaky in some places, and let's face it, a little boring and pretentious in others (two of my favorite buzz words!), it still is important to anyone interested in indie film.  I don't necessarily like this film, but I don't hate it, and definitely admire it.  I probably won't buy it or ever watch it again.  But here's a film about ideas, one of the closest I've ever seen to actually succeed at being so.

Ghostboy

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« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2004, 10:09:35 PM »
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Quote from: Onomatopaella
 The scene outdoors near the end with the inmates forcing one of their own to hold his mouth open while they spit into it from a distance is one of the most overtly pornographic, disturbing, and at the same time compelling I've ever seen.


Isn't it, though? There's technically nothing pornographic about it, and yet Haynes has hit upon a perfect visual metaphor and manages to push all the buttons he needs to, to the extent that it's just as disturbing as the rape scene in Irreversible.

Watching it, I was pretty sure that this was the scene that helped bring the NEA to its knees -- which is a sad thing, but a powerful acknowledgemnt of Haynes' skill.

godardian

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« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2004, 10:36:35 AM »
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Something that might help with the "Homo" segment:

It's the one part that leans most heavily and obviously on Genet (the entire film is supposedly a take-off, but this is the one that really gets into the Genet line of thinking), so it helps to have a passing familiarity with Genet to understand where Haynes is coming from. Hint: The gay-alienation thing, as surprisingly graphic and explicit as it is, is a means, not an end.

Also, the DVD is pretty bad. It must've been the best they could come up with, seeing as how Haynes and Vachon and Lyons were willing to do commentary, but the sound and picture are no better than VHS, really.  :(

"Homo" was my least favorite segment the first time I saw it, too, but on subsequent viewings it's become clearer that the three separate bits are each intended to be part of the same "story," a story about human culture and society (an ongoing obsession of Haynes's, obviously enough if you look at the rest of his work): The prison is a microcosm, the "horror" segment is a macrocosm, and the "Hero" segment is in between and more direct and "on-the-level" about its theme.  

Anyway, I think Poison is a really good movie, but it's probably my least favorite piece of work from one of my most favorite directors. Velvet Goldmine, as unpopular as it seemed to be with critics and audiences, utilized the gay thing to get at the Haynes thing in a much more satisfying, encompassing, and accomplished way.

But if you could only see one Todd Haynes film, that would have to be Safe.
""Money doesn't come into it. It never has. I do what I do because it's all that I am." - Morrissey

"Lacan stressed more and more in his work the power and organizing principle of the symbolic, understood as the networks, social, cultural, and linguistic, into which a child is born. These precede the birth of a child, which is why Lacan can say that language is there from before the actual moment of birth. It is there in the social structures which are at play in the family and, of course, in the ideals, goals, and histories of the parents. This world of language can hardly be grasped by the newborn and yet it will act on the whole of the child's existence."

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