Todd Haynes: A Retrospective


An Evening with Todd Haynes

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The Cinematheque is pleased to welcome Todd Haynes, the gifted American filmmaker who seems to raise the creative bar — for ambition, invention, formal audacity, and accomplishment — with each new project. Mr. Haynes will join us on Friday, November 15 for the opening night of a retrospective devoted to his highly distinctive body of work. The special evening will feature Mr. Haynes in conversation with The Cinematheque’s Executive and Artistic Director Jim Sinclair, followed by a screening of I’m Not There (2007), Mr. Haynes’s astounding, utterly unorthodox ”biography” of Bob Dylan in which six different actors (including Cate Blanchett, in an Oscar-nominated performance) play various aspects of Dylan.

“The most talented independent filmmaker in America ... 
There are few careers that deserve more anticipation.” 

Mr. Haynes first came to attention with his 1987 short Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, a startling re-enactment of the anorexic pop star's life and death using Barbie dolls. The film announced the play with narrative forms and the fascination with pop-music figures evident in much of Mr. Haynes’s subsequent work. Poison (1990), his controversial first feature, won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and was a key film of the “New Queer Cinema” of the 1990s. It scandalized elements of the religious right in the U.S. because it had been funded, in part, with public money.

Safe (1995), Mr. Haynes’s second feature, was a risky, formally-rigorous portrait of a housewife, played to perfection by Julianne Moore, trapped by the emotional sterility of her life and times. Compared by many to Antonioni’s Red Desert, it was followed by Velvet Goldmine (1998), a foray into the glam-rock 1970s that was as flamboyant and exuberant as Safe was austere and elegant. Far From Heaven (2002), also starring Moore, was a visually-ravishing, emotionally-affecting evocation of the sumptuous, subversive 1950s “women’s pictures” of Douglas Sirk. The polyphonic I’m Not There, five years later, was an event for cinephiles and music fans alike — and the most audacious example yet of Mr. Haynes’s formal daring and sheer narrative nerviness. His most recent “film” is Mildred Pierce (2011), a five-hour miniseries made for HBO. Adapted from the 1941 novel by James M. Cain, it won five Emmys, including one for Kate Winslet’s title performance (a role famously played by Joan Crawford in Michael Curtiz’s 1945 film version).

Taken as a whole, this body of bold, intelligent work, with its provocative treatment of the director’s pet themes (transgression, alienation, identity, gender and sexuality, the artist as outsider and outlaw), and its marvellous mastery and control (and subversion) of genre, style, and form, has made Todd Haynes one of the most exciting and adventurous filmmakers of our time.

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Recent Showings

The Cinematheque welcomes iconic American filmmaker Todd Haynes in person for a Red Carpet Reception and Conversation / Q&A, followed by a screening of I'm Not There.
An Evening with Todd Haynes concludes with a screening of his kaleidoscopic and wholly unorthodox Bob Dylan biopic.
MARATHON SCREENING! A luxurious adaptation of James M. Cain's 1941 novel, Haynes' audacious, five-part HBO miniseries screens here in its entirety.
NEW 35mm PRINT! Haynes' provocative, triptych first feature is preceded by a special "surprise" screening of a short film.
Haynes' phantasmagorical third feature is a glittery reinvention of Citizen Kane by way of Ziggy Stardust.
A crossover critical and commercial breakthrough, Haynes' luscious homage to Douglas Sirk's 1950s "weepies" garnered an Oscar nod for the superb Julianne Moore.
One of the canonical American indie films of the 1990s, this zeitgeist-capturing work will be precede by the rarely-screened short, Dotty Gets Spanked.