Todd Haynes

“Todd Haynes makes provocative, complex and experimental films; he is a rarity in that sense alone. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, these historically acute, formally daring, cinematic excavations of popular culture forms and genres engender strong responses for the models of identity they imply.” - Kevin Harley (Contemporary North American Film Directors, 2002)

Todd Haynes

Director / Screenwriter
(1961- ) Born January 2, Los Angeles, California, USA
Top 250 Directors / 21st Century's Top 50 Directors

Key Production Country: USA
Key Genres: Drama, Period Film, Melodrama, Biography, Short Film, Satire, Gay & Lesbian Films
Key Collaborators: Christine Vachon (Producer), James Lyons (Editor), Ed Lachman (Cinematographer), Maryse Alberti (Cinematographer), Julianne Moore (Leading Character Actress), Christian Bale (Leading Actor), Lauren Zalaznick (Producer), Susan Norman (Leading Character Actress), Edith Meeks (Leading Character Actress), Barbara Garrick (Leading Character Actress), Carter Burwell (Composer), James Bennett (Composer)

“A key figure in the new queer cinema of the 1990s, Todd Haynes became infamous years before the movement was named when he used Barbie dolls instead of actors in his short Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1987), and the film was banned after the Carpenter family and the Mattel Corporation objected.” - Linda Badley (501 Movie Directors, 2007)
“Haynes has been categorized as one of the most significant forces within the ‘New Queer Cinema’, a loosely defined group of gay and lesbian filmmakers whose work demonstrates a queer agenda, both politically and aesthetically. Despite his involvement with ACT-UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) and ACT-UP art collective, Gran Fury, Haynes’ films address queer issues only obliquely. His films - from Poison to Dottie Gets Spanked and Velvet Goldmine - are more interested in the historical construction and determinants of gayness than in accounting for contemporary queer life or falling in line with standard genres of gay/lesbian films (e.g., the ‘coming out’ film).” - Justin Wyatt (Fifty Contemporary Filmmakers, 2002)
“Part of the New Queer Cinema, he has moved closer to the mainstream whilst still creating films about outsiders and transgression.” - Chambers Film Factfinder, 2006
“Todd Haynes has made a fascinating career out of examining the artificial through a variety of prisms, including Barbie dolls, glitter rock and the 1950s suburban housewife. One of the pioneers of the New Queer Cinema that evolved out of American independent film’s breakout phase in the 1980s, Haynes abandoned overtly gay themes beginning with his masterpiece, Safe (1995) - an existential horror movie about a Los Angeles woman allergic to her own environment.” - Andrew Bailey (Cinema Now, 2007)
"For me, Velvet Goldmine was a serious disappointment after Poison and Safe—the latter one of the most arresting, original, and accomplished films of the nineties, in which abstraction and a very strange human situation were perfectly embodied in Julianne Moore’s immense but tenuous presence. At that point, the semiotics student from Brown had a fair claim as the most talented independent filmmaker in America… Far from Heaven was a breakthrough for Haynes, and a gorgeous recreation of Douglas Sirk. Beyond the detailed ditto of 1957, one had to ask why. Might the film have been more urgent still set in 2002? So Haynes seemed more talented, yet more hidden, too. Except that I’m Not There—his Bob Dylan film—was excruciatingly pretentious." - David Thomson (The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, 2010)
“The leading director to emerge from the New Queer Cinema, Haynes repeatedly examines the fraught relationship of the individual to society: how conventions (or the rejection of them) form, constrain or liberate personality and experience… Haynes’ strengths are not only his astute, provocative analyses of the way the personal and political intersect but his readiness to adopt whatever cinematic style suits his material: the Barbie dolls used to represent the Carpenters were both a budgetary necessity and a comment on their image, [Safe] employed muted colours and claustrophobic framing to suggest its protagonist’s entrapment, Velvet Goldmine mirrored glamrock’s baroque artifice. Audacious and imaginative, Haynes is undeniably one of today’s most radical, intelligent film-makers.” - Geoff Andrew (The Director's Vision, 1999)
TSPDT Guide
Highly Recommended
Far from Heaven (2002)
Recommended
Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1987), Safe (1995)
Worth a Look
Dottie Gets Spanked (1993), Velvet Goldmine (1998), I'm Not There (2007) , Mildred Pierce [TV] (2011)
Approach with Caution
Poison (1990)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films
Todd Haynes / Favourite Films
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974) Rainer Werner Fassbinder, All That Heaven Allows (1955) Douglas Sirk, Un Chant d'amour (1950) Jean Genet, Citizen Kane (1941) Orson Welles, Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975) Chantal Akerman, Nashville (1975) Robert Altman, The Night of the Hunter (1955) Charles Laughton, Performance (1970) Nicolas Roeg & Donald Cammell, The Reckless Moment (1949) Max Ophüls, Vertigo (1958) Alfred Hitchcock.
Source: Time Out (1995)
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    Far from Heaven
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