Todd Haynes May December film Entertainment carol Todd Haynes May December

Gay filmmaker Todd Haynes’ debut was an erotic prison drama, body horror, and tabloid fodder all in one

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Welcome back to our queer film retrospective, “A Gay Old Time.” In this week’s column, we revisit acclaimed writer-director Todd Haynes’ first feature, 1991’s Poison, an artful triptych on otherness.It’s not uncommon for film directors to revisit the same themes and ideas over and over throughout their careers.

In fact, it’s something that probably pours out of them unconsciously. It’s not hard to find common threads between the types of ideas, characters, and narratives that they choose to revisit over the years.This is of course easier to do in retrospect; looking back at a director’s filmography and finding the thematic and narrative seeds in their early works that would sprout later as their career took off.

With the value of hindsight and time, we’re able to not only more easily identify the patterns that emerged in the films, but also contextualize them within the filmography, and even reassess their original reception and reactions.This weekend sees the release of Todd Haynes’ latest film, the tabloid melodrama May December, starring Natalie Portman as an actress that pays a visit to the woman she’ll be playing in a movie (Julianne Moore), who years before was entangled in a tabloid scandal.

So, it’s a perfect time to look back at Haynes’ earliest work, his 1991 feature film debut Poison, and set it against the body of work that he has created since.

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