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USA, 1994 (MIFF 1996, Contemporary World Cinema )

Director: Todd Haynes

Todd Haynes, director of Poison and the Karen Carpenter Barbie-dull film Superstar, extends his reputation as America's Foremost radical filmmaker wirh the menacingly soothing Safe Julianne Moore plays a well-off San Fernando home-maker increasingly engulfed by an allergy diagnosed as multiple chemical sensitivity. The film elides her initial cocooned well-being and hei debilitation and immersion In Now Age therapy into a single unshakeable vision of chaos under sedation.

"Julianne Moore's-so brilliant In Vanya on 42nd Street (MIFF 1995)-beautifully rtuanced performance details the creeping interior malaise of Carol's routine life of household chores and aerobic classes which is gradually disrupted as she develops an allergic response to everything around her.

"Subject to a series of medical investigations that cannot divine the source of her problem, she finds respite at a scarily evangelistic New Age health centre. It is a tantalisingly complex and at times, disorientating film. In which every succinctly composed frame provides new meaning as Haynes interrogates what the 'safe' might be in Carol's life—and. beyond that, in American culture" • Lizzie Francke. Ljmdon Film Festlml

"While researching environmental illness and AIDS I was struck by how many sufferers, thrust out of their normal lives, were drawn to the logic of New Age therapies Somehow the solace of being held responsible for one's condition outweighed the chaos of an incurable lurure. Carol's search for identity and the safety of belonging lead her to the same conclusion she nooses culpability over chaos. It is possible the illness that so disrupts the order of her world is far less dangerous than the cure to restore it?".

Todd Haynes

See also...


Todd Haynes' first Film since Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story can hardly fail to set audiences ablaze. Poison is a movie without any obvious precedents, an amyl-charged ride through images of ... More »

Dottie Gets Spanked

From the cryptic pen of Todd (Poison) Haynes, Dottie Gets Spanked explores the depths of a young boy's imagination via his obsession with a trashy 60s TV comedy. When young Steven wins a contest to ... More »

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story

As the above listing suggests, there's so much going on in Superstar's 43 minutes that it's difficult to know where to start a description. Suffice to say this is one of the most original films ... More »

The Smell of Burning Ants

In its studied, graceful and strangely sinister slow motion manipulation of actuality footage, this homage to boyhood cruelty and violence evokes both lean Genet and Eadweard Muybridge. It works as ... More »


... ... The latest work in documentary magician Les Blank's ongoing celebration of humanity at its most sociable and creative is this loving por­trait of an entertainer and artist provocateur who ... More »


The second film by masterful storyteller and versatile artist, Tom Noonan, the American independent who won the Grand Jury Prize at last year's Sundance Film Festival with his debut feature What ... More »

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