Far From Heaven

Todd Haynes’ Far From Heaven strikes me as the best American movie of 2002. It’s a brilliant recreation–more than a simulation–of a genre I have long loved, the 1950s melodrama; more particularly, it is a loose remake of, and homage to, the films of Douglas Sirk, most notably All That Heaven Allows (1955). Haynes recreates the style and feel of Sirk’s films, while also interrogating the relations between real life and cinematic depictions of it, as well as between 1950s culture and the culture we live in today. In doing this, Haynes illuminates matters of gender and sexuality in a remarkable way. He endeavors to do this also for race; but race relations are the one area in which (alas) the film doesn’t succeed…
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One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2003 was to write more in this blog than I did last year–even if the entries are less polished (& hence less good).

I’ll start by talking about Abel Ferrara’s R-Xmas–which I think is the greatest Christmas movie, ever….
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Donnie Darko

I just saw (on DVD) Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko, which is an extraordinarily beautiful film, certainly one of the best movies of 2001. It’s a delicate, creepy, and quite affecting portrait of male teenage alienation and angst, subtly bathed in the colors of what might be described either as schizophrenic hallucination, or as science fiction….
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Monster’s Ball

Seeing Monster’s Ball made me wish that James Baldwin were still alive, because Baldwin wrote the book on the racial hypocrisy of Hollywood. Monster’s Ball continues the tradition of films like The Defiant Ones and Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner–films that wear their ostensibly anti-racist messages on their sleeves, while actually continuing to perpetuate the worst racist stereotypes…
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