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Cinephilic Bodies: Todd Haynes's Cinema of Queer Pastiche

CAKIRLAR, C; (2011) Cinephilic Bodies: Todd Haynes's Cinema of Queer Pastiche. KÜLT: Istanbul Bilgi University Cultural Studies Journal , 1 (1) pp. 162-200. Green open access

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Drawing on the emergence of a new attitude among gay and lesbian filmmakers on the 1990s American festival circuit, the film critic Ruby Rich, while defining New Queer Cinema (NQC), implies that a narrative shift of political emphases took place in gay and lesbian cinema from an affirmative minority identity politics to a much more skeptical critique of shame and stigma ‘unit[ing] discrete communities of outsiders under the commonality of perversion’. This article focuses on one of the founding figures in queer film aesthetics, Todd Haynes, who has also been regarded as the key auteur director of NQC. Departing from Rich's identification of a situationist aesthetics via pastiche, this paper investigates Todd Haynes’s film aesthetics in unpacking the aspects of his queer critique in cinematic representation, which reiterates the impossible political-ontological claim of post-AIDS New Queer Cinema: a critical but cinephilic play with the canonic trends of visual representation in film via strategic perturbations of the identificatory markers of gender and sexuality. Concentrating on his films Poison (1991), Dottie Gets Spanked (1993), [Safe] (1995) and Far From Heaven (2002), the discussion aims at questioning the critical relationship of Haynes's films with gender, sexuality, genre, and the canons of film aesthetics. From the performative use of Jean Genet haunting the sadomasochistic ascesis in the fragmented inter-genre pastiche Poison to the visual re-appropriation of the Freudian phantasmatic of beating in Dottie; from the de-gayed allegorization of AIDS in [Safe] to the camp aesthetics of ambiguity in the Sirkian melodrama Far From Heaven, Haynes's practice operates here as methodological object that appears to reciprocate contemporary queer theory and its engagement with history, memory, culture, body, and subjectivity.

Type: Article
Title: Cinephilic Bodies: Todd Haynes's Cinema of Queer Pastiche
Location: Turkey
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1308859
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