This Friday Carol will arrive in UK cinemas but 28 years ago Todd Haynes arrived in film with a little know short Superstar: Karen Carpenter Story.Banned for many years but it introduced Haynes to cinehpiles worldwide and showcase a visual style not set in stone.Enjoy his infamous 43-minute cult treasure.
2 years after his graduation from Brown University Haynes delivers probably one of the strangest, surreal experimental films you’ll see. Daring, risque a film that found iself dragged through The American courts for 25 years by Karen Carpenter’s brother Richard. It was taken out of circulation but a few years ago thanks to the power of youtube it’s found its way onto the channel, though not officially “legal”. Whilst people may argue who came out worst we can say 3 years after it’s original release , the 1991 Sundance Film Festival saw Haynes release of Poison. It was a fantastic era to be independent filmmaker in USA from Quentin Tarantino, Steven Soderbergh amongst the leading names which Haynes nicely fits into.
Melodramatic Superstar: Karen Carpener Story delivers a sporadic mise-en-scène ‘docu-drama’ of much loved Karen Carpenter her rise reimagined using Barbie Dolls.The narrative structure reminiscent of many of the musical biographies we see on the small and big screens theses days. Put artistic license to one side, thanks to the tragic death of Karen it was only a matter of time the carpenter family would take action and you can only be sympathetic to Richard and their cause. Ironically if the copy infringment of use Carpenters music never happened, the film itse;f would have probably would have still earned Haynes a lawsuit. Invasive, exploitative, morbid are some of the words used to describe the film however you could say its an pioneer film in experimental filmmaking. Compelling it maybe but a film that will not see the light in commerical success, will it haunt Todd Haynes success for Oscar glory, only time will tell.
Todd Haynes Carol starring Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara arrives in UK cinemas Friday 27th November, you can read our review from London Film Festival at this link.