Now Playing! Todd Haynes’ Queer Cinema Cousins

Still from Peter Jackson's 1994 film 'Heavenly Creatures.' (Courtesy Miramax)

Modern Cinema, the three-weekend, thrice-yearly collaboration of SFFILM and SFMOMA, spotlights a contemporary filmmaker amid a delectable buffet of movies that preceded and influenced him or her. New Queer Cinema pioneer Todd Haynes and his longtime producer, Christine Vachon, are in the spotlight this month, presumably on account of their new adaptation of Brian Selznick’s 2011 time-traveling children’s book Wonderstruck (screening Sunday, Oct. 22 at 3:30pm, in advance of the Oct. 27 theatrical opening).

Todd Haynes, Still from 'Wonderstruck,' 2017.
Todd Haynes, Still from 'Wonderstruck,' 2017. (Courtesy Amazon Studios)

Haynes is also represented by his TV adaptation of Mildred Pierce (Friday, Oct. 20 at 11am), his career breakthrough, Far From Heaven (8:30pm), the Dylan “biography” I’m Not There, (Saturday, Oct. 21 at 8pm) and the uptight and gorgeous Carol (Saturday, Oct. 28 at 5pm).

The most savory treats, from my perspective, are other filmmakers’ takes on repressed sexuality and societal indifference that reverberated with Haynes. The melodramas of Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, Friday, Oct. 20 at 6pm) and Douglas Sirk (All That Heaven Allows, Sunday, Oct. 22 at 1pm) are obvious reference points, as are the horror shows perpetrated against innocents by the hung-up monsters in Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures (Sunday, Oct. 22 at 7pm) and Kimberly Peirce’s Boys Don’t Cry (Saturday Oct. 21 at 5pm).

Douglas Sirk, Still from 'All that Heaven Allows,' 1955.
Douglas Sirk, Still from 'All that Heaven Allows,' 1955. (Courtesy AF Archive/Alamy Stock Photo)

Exuberant, unmitigated excess is not a hallmark of Haynes and Vachon’s work, yet their movies convey an appreciation for -- or should I say envy of -- people capable of such free expression. It typically manifests itself in their films as a yearning to live without inhibitions, if not without consequences. From that perspective, the inclusion of Bob Fosse’s wrenching adaptation of Cabaret (Saturday, Oct. 21 at 2pm) in this series makes perfect sense. Not that any excuse is necessary to revive Fosse’s brilliant 1972 musical.

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