Todd Haynes

Started by MacGuffin, November 20, 2003, 10:38:28 AM

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Quote from: wilder on July 01, 2022, 05:55:48 PM'Superstar': Todd Haynes Says His Banned Carpenters Movie May Finally Get An Official Release
The Playlist

What's Todd Haynes up to since his first documentary, "The Velvet Underground," about the iconic band, won over critics at Cannes last year and audiences on AppleTV+? He has "May December" on deck, announced at the virtual Cannes market last June, which reunites the director with Julianne Moore and will be his first time working with Natalie Portman. But Haynes may also have another film coming out soon too, and it's one that fans of the director have wanted for a long time.

In an interview with EW, Haynes disclosed that his short film, "Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story," had recently been remastered, and he's hopeful about a future release. "It has been remastered by UCLA and Sundance a couple years ago," said Haynes, "and it looks so beautiful. Every time I see it now, I'm just like, Oh, man, I'm so lucky that we have this version out there." As for the movie's potential rerelease, Haynes said, "Yes, it'll happen. It's not something we're working on at the moment, but it's going to happen — it will happen, yeah."

So, why is a new release of "Superstar" so exciting? Well, the short is a holy grail for Todd Haynes fans. The experimental film uses Barbie dolls along with documentary footage to depict the last seventeen years of Karen's musical career as she struggles with both anorexia and the limelight of the pop music industry. But the movie's been banned from circulation since Richard Carpenter, Karen's brother and the other half of the musical group The Carpenters, filed a lawsuit against Haynes in 1990, which the director lost. Since then, the film has been next to impossible to see.

But now, Haynes thinks he can give the movie the release it deserves at some point. "There have been some legal opinions written about the film that seem favorable to a way through," he said. "But there's a lot more work that I need to do that I haven't had time to, which is annotate the film and provide all of the sources of information and so forth. It's been shown a couple of times, not announced publicly, and not for any fee, not for any ticket, under the terms of its cease and desist." 

It's nice to hear "Superstar" still has its secret screenings every now and then, as it feels very in line with Haynes' experimentalism and connection to underground cinema earlier in his career. But an official release of "Superstar" would also be a coup for Haynes, as critics see the short as a major touchstone in the director's career.

So, with any luck, Haynes will focus on "Superstar" after finishing work on "May December." The director's latest follows a married couple who buckles under the pressure when an actress comes to live with them to do research for a film about their notorious tabloid romance from twenty years before.

Oh, man, I hope Haynes gets to properly release that. For those in LA, Cinefile has a DVD (bootleg? can't recall where it was burned from) copy you can rent.


Yeah! I make the trek from Sherman Oaks, these dayz. And yeah unfortunately (fortunately?) any of the smoking has to happen outside on the corner now.  :-D



From his retrospective in Paris the other week


Joaquin Phoenix's Next Project Will Be an NC-17 Gay Love Story

Joaquin Phoenix is taking it up another notch after Ari Aster's "Beau Is Afraid," teaming up with Todd Haynes for an NC-17-rated gay romance film.

Haynes spoke to IndieWire at the Cannes Film Festival following the Saturday premiere of his romantic drama "May December," starring Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore. In the interview, Haynes teased an upcoming project he co-developed with Phoenix.

"The next film is a feature that's an original script that I developed with Joaquin Phoenix based on some thoughts and ideas he brought to me," Haynes told IndieWire. "We basically wrote with him as a story writer. Me and Jon Raymond and Joaquin share the story credit. And we hope to be shooting it beginning early next year. It's a gay love story set in 1930s L.A."

Haynes added, "Joaquin was pushing me further and going, 'No, let's go further.' This will be an NC-17 film."

Phoenix is no stranger to intense roles that push past the expected limits of actors. As for Haynes, between "Carol," "Far From Heavens," "Poison, "Velvet Goldmine" and his latest, "May December," the director is no stranger to the romantic period drama, nor the queer film.

"All I can do is just keep hunkering down and committing to each project," Haynes said. "I have more features planned. I have also episodic projects coming that are planned, that are really exciting. I'm going back to work with Kate Winslet with something she brought me for HBO."

Hayne's latest project, "May December," is loosely based on the American scandal of Mary Kay Letourneau. In Variety's review, film critic Peter Debruge wrote: "Tone is everything in movies like this, and Haynes goes out of his way to avoid the sensationalism... Withholding moral judgment as best he can, Haynes keeps things more emotional than intellectual, trusting audiences to do that unpacking on their own."


Christine Vachon Talks Todd Haynes, The Writers Strike & Reveals The One Project She Still Wants To Make — Karlovy Vary Int'l Film Festival

Christine Vachon offered her outlook on some of the industry's most pressing issues at a keynote masterclass session Monday afternoon at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

The session, moderated by Deadline's Mike Fleming Jr., opened with a focus on Vachon's career before blossoming into a wider discussion about the industry, including what Vachon believes exhibitors can be doing to encourage audiences to get back into cinemas.

"It's about creating environments that make the experience feel more like an event," she said of the moviegoing experience. "I know in Europe this is old, but in America, the idea of eating a meal or having a drink in a movie theater is still relatively new, and creating an event where your seat is extraordinarily comfortable with actually decent projections."

Vachon, a native New Yorker, later joked: "I don't know if in New York you are ever going to get rid of the subway rumbling."

The Killer Films producer was later asked if she'd ever thought of attaching herself to some of the movies that make a lot of money at the box office, where "the cast are dressed in spandex and save the world" — a reference to superhero films.

"Why would anyone have me do that?" she quickly replied. "It would be really great if one of the movies I made made a lot of money, but I'm not well suited to make a Marvel movie. I'm just not interested."

Elsewhere, Vachon dug into some specific titles from her career including the groundbreaking 1999 drama Boys Don't Cry, which she said originally was set under a different name.

"The original title was Take It Like a Man and a few months before when the movie was in post-production, we got a cease-and-desist letter. I can't even remember from who, but there was a company that was making Boy George's memoir Take It Like a Man into a movie," Vachon said. "They had copyrighted the title, so we couldn't use it. Kim was devastated. Finally, we came up with Boy's Don't Cry. At the time, we all thought it was a comedown, and now I can't imagine the movie being called anything else."

Vachon dug even further into her filmography when quizzed about the 1987 short Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1987) she worked on with her now-frequent collaborator Todd Haynes.

The experimental pic was shot by Haynes when he was an MFA student at Bard and uses archival material, dramatized talking heads, and stop-motion animation featuring Barbie dolls to tell singer Karen Carpenter's rapid journey from obscurity to pop stardom and her untimely death due to anorexia-related-complications.

Vachon isn't listed as a producer on the pic but receives a "Special Thanks" from the filmmakers. She told the audience in Karlovy Vary that Barbie's parent company Mattel paid a visit to their office when the film was released, but Haynes was able to trick his way out of any legal bother over the use of the doll.

"Todd bought all those dolls in garage sales. They were Barbie rip-offs, so he was able to prove to Mattel that it was an off-brand. That it wasn't Barbie, but it was what you got if your parents couldn't afford Barbie," she said.

The 43-minute pic went on to enjoy a successful run in the downtown New York experimental film circuit and played at several international festivals, including Toronto, but has been withdrawn from circulation since the early 1990s after Richard Carpenter, Karen's brother, and longtime collaborator, filed a lawsuit against Haynes, which the director lost. Haynes made the film as an MFA student at Bard College and used many of Carpenter's songs in the film without obtaining permission.

"The reason he didn't seek permission for the songs was because he didn't expect the film to blow up the way it did," Vachon said. "It pops up on YouTube all the time. It's kind of like Whac-A-Mole. It pops up and gets taken down. Pops up again and gets taken down, so you can almost certainly find it. And now it's been restored. There's a wonderful version that keeps popping up and it's the true director's cut."

At the tail end of the keynote, Vachon was asked about the current situation in Hollywood, with writers striking and SAG-AFTRA negotiating with the studios.

"I remember the 2008 strike and how devastating that was. Killer Films barely got out of it intact," she said. "I know a lot of young writers and how hard it is for them, especially the ones just getting started in their careers. Most of the demands on the table are right. The streamers have upended the business so much, and they've got to make it right."

Concluding the session, Vachon, whose credits include Carol, First Reformed and Zola, said she had one project left that she would like to complete during her career. 

"I really want to do something about the '80s in New York. I feel like everything I've seen about that period hasn't gotten it right," she said. 

"The '80s bleeding into the '90s, that period in New York City which was a time of extraordinary collision of art and music and fashion and cinema, but also the time of the AIDS crisis. I just haven't found a good story."