Radical readings of a pioneer in queer cinema
Todd Haynes's films are intricate and purposeful, combining the intellectual impact of art cinema with the emotional accessibility of popular genres. They are also underpinned by a serious commitment to feminism and queer theory. From his 1985 student film about Arthur Rimbaud to his shapeshifting portrait of Bob Dylan in I'm Not There (2007) and the riveting HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce (2011), Haynes has made films whose complex weave of stories and characters reveals dark, painful intensities. His taste for narrative experimentation and pastiche is haunted by anguish.
Rob White's highly readable book, which includes a major new interview with Haynes, is the first comprehensive study of the director's work. Special attention is paid to the fascination with music culture (from the Carpenters to glam rock) and to the rich pattern of allusions to, or affinity with, predecessor filmmakers (Fassbinder, Ophuls, Sirk, and many more). But White's chief concern is the persistence of a queer impulse to explore social coercion and the possibility that there may be some way of escaping its cruelty.
"An impressive mix of high and low criticism. . . . White manages his various lines of inquiry with precision and a streamlined sense of significance and packing, making this book an excellent addition to the "Contemporary Film Directors" series."--Slant Magazine
"White's book is sharp and attentive, especially when the writing is intensified by the focus on an individual frame."--Sight and Sound
"The first comprehensive study of Haynes's achievements—is a most welcome addition to film studies. Highly recommended."--Choice
"The book offers a sound account of a director who remains committed to addressing the shortcomings of contemporary America."--Journal of American Culture
"The cinema of Todd Haynes has kept alive the memory of screen melodrama, from the desperate normality of Sirk's American homes to Fassbinder’s abject misfits. Rob White's meticulously observed and elegantly written book fuses analysis of Haynes's complex legacies with a poignant, revealing discussion of the films' stylistic originality, explosive emotional power, and devastating social critique."--Laura Mulvey, author of Death 24x a Second: Stillness and the Moving Image
"Driven by an equally passionate love and questioning of Haynes's films, Rob White's energetic book surpasses mere survey to originate an important understanding of this important cinema."--D. A. Miller, author of 8 1/2
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