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November 02, 2002

Free Reads -- Dennis Lim and Todd Haynes

Friedrich --

If you ever needed confirmation that 1) you aren't a leftie, 2) you aren't gay, and 3) you didn't go to Brown and major in semiotics, here's a fast way to get it -- reading Dennis Lim's article about the filmmaker Todd Haynes in the Village Voice, here. Haynes is the director who made the new pseudo-Sirk melodrama "Far From Heaven," which I wrote about some postings ago, here.

To be fair, it's a cheerful and informative article. But it's mostly to be enjoyed (so far as I'm concerned) for the density of the leftie-art-robot-speak on display.

Sample passage from Lim:

From the delirious palette to the prim, italicized performances, Haynes's meta-melodrama pays homage to German-born maestro Douglas Sirk. A Weimar stage director who emigrated to the States in 1940, Sirk went on to make a string of Brechtian soaps in Hollywood, wrapping up his film career as resident tearjerker at Universal Pictures. Resurrecting All That Heaven Allows (1955), Sirk's attack on bourgeois repression, and Imitation of Life (1959), his tempestuous saga of race and identity, Haynes revels in the ebullient artifice of the originals. Far From Heaven, pace Courtney Love, fakes it so fake it is beyond real.


Sample passage from Haynes, who's talking about the performance artist John Kelly's legendary (between Canal and 14th St, anyway) impersonation of Joni Mitchell:

He sounds just like Joni Mitchell, he imitates her stage banter, he's in drag and looks like a ghoulish version of the little pixie Joni Mitchell from the '60s. You're laughing, but you're laughing at yourself, at your own intensely serious investment in Joni Mitchell when you were in high school. But you're also crying, at the beauty of the music, and for that person in high school who loved those songs and who you feel rekindled. There's this freedom to go from one emotion to the next, neither one undermining the other....There's something about a beautiful surrogate that opens up this wealth of feeling that you wouldn't have with the real thing. And to me, the best kind of cinema is not about the real—it's about a distance that you fill in, participate in with your life experiences, your memories, and your associations.




posted by Michael at November 2, 2002


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