On a Todd Haynes kick

Bisexual glam rock stars, lonely housewives, and Bob Dylan. The only planet on which these things can co-exist, is the strange place that is Todd Haynes' mind. He's been a director since the '80's, but didn't get much notice till his 1995 thriller, Safe. The movie stars Julianne Moore (a Haynes regular) as Carol White, a wife and mother who comes down with a mysterious illness, and no one can figure out what is wrong with her. Though unconfirmed, many think it was a metaphor for the AIDS virus. I can't speak to the film's merits or underlying themes, having not seen it yet, but considering the affinity I feel for his later movies, I'm pretty sure I'd like it. The man just continues to blow me away as one of the most creative (and sometimes inaccessible) directors around.

  • I saw Velvet Goldmine for the first time years ago, when I was still too young to understand what it meant, or just how unique it really was. But in watching it again, I'm realizing that it may be one of my favorite movies. Glam rocker Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) woos you with his antics of taking over the world, one boy questioning his sexuality at a time. Check out Jonathan's completely incoherent interview on the set of the film. It's actually a lot like Marie Antoinette, full of color, music, and frivolity, except there's more than three pages of dialogue. Toni Collette is incredible as Brian's American wife, who speaks with a British party girl accent. Haynes ages Christian Bale surprisingly convincingly from young teen (in love with Slade and glam rock) to adult journalist, longing for the past. Ewan McGregor is perfect as out of control Curt Wild, the epitome of the "troubled artist." It's pretty much an unauthorized biography of David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust phase (Bowie chose not to be involved with the film). It's sexy, it's insane. it's just really good, so see it.

  • "Don't you think you've had enough, dear." That's the general tone of Haynes' next film, Far From Heaven. Seductively soft spoken Julianne Moore is perfectly reserved '50's housewife, Cathy Whitaker. Her outfits always match the room she's in, and her kids say things like, "gee whiz pop..." Everything was going just swimmingly for Cathy, till she finds out her husband isn't exactly "into women." But, being the '50's, the obvious choice for her was to completely ignore the situation, and start flirting with her black gardener... Every color is saturated, every sentence is exaggerated, and every situation is melodramatic, but it's all purposeful, bordering on parody. I still think I need to see it again, but once was enough to know it was good. And for anyone that likes pretty colors, this movie's full of them. 

  • Haynes' latest, I'm Not There, still confuses the hell out of me. You have six people, including a woman and a little kid, all playing Bob Dylan... but none of them are named Bob Dylan. The movie officially qualifies as insane. But I have a soft spot for Heath, and Cate Blanchett's performance will go down in history. It's beautifully shot, and AGAIN, his colors are amazing (when he uses them). Michelle Williams gives a brief, but slightly awesome performance as "Coco," a '70's model/actress. I still don't know how I feel about this movie, but three days after watching, I'm still thinking about it. While I love all of Velvet Goldmine and Far From Heaven, I'm Not There gives me a chance to pick and choose the scenes and characters I like best. Don't make me use the word vignette, but yeah, it's basically an artfully assembled series of those. This too deserves a second viewing. I think I need to live on the Todd Haynes planet for a little while longer. 

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