“Todd Haynes: The Other Side of Dreams,” the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s comprehensive survey of the great director’s films opens with a sneak preview of his latest, the engrossing and moving “Carol,” (which will be released on November 20). Exquisitely shot on Super 16 by Haynes’s longtime cinematographer Ed Lachman and superbly acted by Cate Blanchett (elegant and conflicted as the titular character) and Rooney Mara (with uneasy, watchful eyes), “Carol” (based on Patricia Highsmith’s early novel “The Price of Salt”) tells the deeply emotional story of two women who transcend the societal (and internalized) repression of the 50s to imagine a life together. Perfect in its details (residential interiors and public spaces, clothing, cars), the film’s art direction subtly situates the women in their time.
Haynes’s films, always visually arresting, have examined sexuality, class, women chafing against society’s expectations, the truth in melodrama and pop stardom (unbiopics of David Bowie and Bob Dylan). The series includes all of his features, two early shorts and “Mildred Pierce,” originally shown as a five-part HBO miniseries.
Each selection in the program is paired with a film by another director, chosen by Haynes, and which he cites as having influenced his work, including: George Stevens’s “A Place in the Sun” (with “Carol”); Russ Meyer’s “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” (with “Dottie Gets Spanked”); Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “Fox and His Friends” (with “Poison); Douglas Sirk’s “Imitation of Life” (with “Safe”); and Nicholas Roeg and Donald Cammell’s “Performance” (with “Velvet Goldmine”).
“20 Years of Killer Films,” a two film sidebar, celebrates the essential film production company co-founded in the mid-90s by Haynes’s fearless producer Christine Vachon with Pamela Koffler and Katie Roumel.
The double bill showcases two of the company’s ground-breaking films, “Boys Don’t Cry” (1999) and “I Shot Andy Warhol” (1996). The former, directed by Kimberly Peirce, recreates a young Nebraskan trans man’s sweet romance and brutal murder, with Hilary Swank, riveting as Brandon Teena, in her first Oscar-winning performance. Mary Harron directed the latter, featuring an intense Lili Taylor as Valerie Solanas, an important voice in the history radical feminism, but who also suffered with mental illness and in June 1968 shot the famous artist.
“Todd Haynes: The Other Side of Dreams” opens on Wednesday, November 18 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater and runs through Sunday, November 29. Todd Haynes will be in attendance for Q&As and intros, as indicated in the schedule.