Todd Haynes


    SOMETIME IN 1963, or perhaps it was late 1962, I found my way to a downtown loft where the Dream Syndicate—the configuration of La Monte Young, John Cale, Tony Conrad, Angus MacLise, and Marian Zazeela—was playing weekly concerts. The sound produced was massive—tones sustained for impossible durations at impossible volumes, so that you felt as if you were inside the sound and that the connection between ear and brain was transformed. These concerts shaped my aesthetic even more than the similarly aggressive, expanded time in movies by Andy Warhol, Ken Jacobs, Michael Snow, and Barbara Rubin,

  • Todd Haynes, Mildred Pierce, 2010–11, five-part miniseries on HBO, approx. 330 minutes. Production still. Young Veda Pierce (Morgan Turner) and Mildred Pierce (Kate Winslet). Photo: Andrew Schwartz/HBO.


    TODD HAYNES SPECIALIZES in two kinds of movies: analytic music biopics (Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story [1988], Velvet Goldmine [1998], I’m Not There [2007]) and revisions of the genre that Hollywood dubbed the “woman’s picture” (Safe [1995], Far from Heaven [2002]). We can now add to the latter Mildred Pierce, a five-part miniseries that premieres this month on HBO. Fans of Michael Curtiz’s 1945 movie starring Joan Crawford will be surprised to discover that in this new version—which faithfully adheres to the eponymous James M. Cain novel on which the earlier film, too, was based—there


    TODD HAYNES’ SAFE BEGINS at night in a Mercedes floating past manicured shrubbery and self-important gates. The emblematic star on the hood is a rifle sight, scoping suburbia’s upscale terrain. There is no gun beneath the seat, no hand roaming restlessly under a skirt, just the noiresque suggestion of such a melodrama at the end of the road. Beautiful music like breathing backwards accompanies this allegorical drive which is soon interrupted by a sneeze. With this slip—the first in a series of escalating symptoms, disaffected housewife Carol White (Julianne Moore), reveals the true nature of

  • Lines of Flight

    WHAT LINES ARE ETCHED in the face of masculinity? I find nothing. They are lines of flight.

    Masculinity has always seemed to function through invisibility. To what else can you attribute that unique sense of naturalness, the standard against which the world of differences is compulsively measured? Unable to see itself, masculinity is most often described by others—most extensively by feminists. But what about differences among men, men whose male attributes have conventionally been drawn as deficient, or else as excessive? Masculinity turns gay men, black men, inside out. Given its inclusions