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Monday, November 30, 2015

The Laying On of Hayes: Todd Haynes at the Walker

While not exactly prolific, few filmmakers have had as rich a body of work over the last 25 years as Todd Haynes. While his experimental and infamous (and widely unseen because of copyright issues) student short Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1987) reads in the abstract like a precocious academic’s theory-laden art project in vogue as postmodernism defiantly pokes its strychnine needles into the Reagan ’80s–the tragic ’70s pop star is given a biopic starring Barbie dolls–as a feature director Haynes has expertly refined his themes, craft, and performances from star players as his moving pictures ponder the beautiful sheen of surfaces and performances of identity in glamorous environments of rigid social censure. Unlike his fellow Bard College associate Kelly Reichardt (for whom he serves as a producer), who inspects disenfranchised lower class individuals unable to keep up with the accelerating economic demands of a “normal life,” Haynes looks at people blessed with privilege and money but with inner lives out of conjunction with the visible world around them. Both Portlandian filmmakers highlight how evanescent people are as the world is determined to be fixed in concretely defined and constructed essences; there’s an unlikely similarity then between Reichardt’s ne’er-do-wells and activists and Haynes’ spotlight on pop celebrity (including Carpenter, David Bowie, and Bob Dylan).

Read the rest at L'etoile Magazine:

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