Private Lives: "Carol" and the Cinema of Todd Haynes

  • MUBI
For the longest time, it seemed like the last thing you should expect from Todd Haynes was a simple story. Coming out of the fertile 1990s Sundance scene, he was a provocateur and a delirious mash-up artist: his films were fractured narratives, or anti-narratives, or meta-narratives. His best work either smashed together wildly different styles and stories (as in his debut Poison [1991]), or presented unsettling, contradictory ideas but refused climax or closure (as in his masterpiece Safe [1995]). Even in a zeitgeist defined by Quentin Tarantino, the jukebox musicals Velvet Goldmine (1998) and I'm Not There (2007) looked like pastiche and homage taken to the farthest limit. But far more than Tarantino, Haynes, the former Ivy League semiotics student, insists on not simply getting swept away in the styles, but maintaining a critical viewpoint of how and why the styles function. In retrospect, everything about his method was already in place in his
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