The films of Todd Haynes

I have, for reasons that will soon become clear, introduced myself for the first time to the work of director Todd Haynes, the director behind the films Velvet Goldmine, Far From Heaven and most recently I’m Not There, the critically-acclaimed nontraditional Bob Dylan biopic. Prior to this Thursday I hadn’t seen any of his films. Since then I’ve watched Velvet Goldmine—a visually-indulgent rumination on Bowiesque glam rock starring Jonathan Rhys-Davies, Ewan MacGregor, and Christian Bale, and I’m Not There, a film which I now deeply regret missing out on when it was in theatrical distribution.


Musical interlude from Velvet Goldmine

I’m not going to write in great detail about my reaction to these two films because It’s only two points of reference in a far larger body of work, and also because I’m not a film critic and my observations are really just a jumping-off point for my own work, but what I see in these movies is first and foremost the work of someone who is having a great deal of fun. Velvet Goldmine especially often incorporates elements, be they cinematic devices, musical interludes, even plot points, that do not by any conventional criteria belong in the film, but rather seem to exist only because Haynes liked them. This seems to me to be a dangerous way to make films, and yet in the cases of both Velvet Goldmine and I’m Not There, I would argue that the inclusion of such elements is what makes the movies such a joy to watch. There’s also a real sense of playfulness within the storytelling form, mixing fake documentary and television footage with stylized visuals and also more traditional diegetic narrative. And all of this gives me exciting ideas.

Anyway, is anyone else out there familiar with Haynes’ work? If there was one question you could ask him, what would it be?

6 thoughts on “The films of Todd Haynes

  1. FINALLY SOMEONE ELSE HAS SEEN I’m Not ThereI!!! THANK GOD! IF YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT, PLEASE DO. WE SHOULD TALK ABOUT IT. YOU LIKED IT? YES, I’M STILL WRITING IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR A GODDAMN YEAR TO TALK TO SOMEONE ABOUT THIS FILM! YES!

  2. I SAW I’M NOT THERE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE TONIGHT AND I WAS TOTALLY BLOWN AWAY I MEAN THE THING WHERE DYLAN GOES ELECTRIC AND HIS BAND MACHINE GUNS THE AUDIENCE WAS TOTALLY BRILLIANT OMG! AND CATE BLANCHETT WOWIE WOW WOW!

  3. That Musical interludes great! And I’m sure it’s even better in the context of the entire film! It reminds me a lot of that weird dream-sequence-type-thing from I’m Not There to the tune of “Mr. Jones” (Is it Mr. Jones? I know it’s Mr. Somebody. Jesus, I need to listen to more Bob Dylan). And I’m not sure about you, but I thought that part was pretty great. Cate Blanchett’s part in general is just fucking amazing. DAMMIT I DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS IT I REALLY LIKE I’M NOT THERE!

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