Todd Haynes Uses Genre Simplicity to His Advantage in ‘Dark Waters’

Genre films have always gotten a bad rap. Even when they are praised, it usually feels like a backhanded compliment — “I turned off my brain and enjoyed the ride,” or “It was just a really simple and fun film” are often used to offer both praise and dismissal in equal measure. But there is power in simplicity. In Dark Waters, Todd Haynes knows when it is necessary, and how to harness it for the benefit of both the film and its audience. This is an impressive feat.

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Criterion Month: Nine Gay & Lesbian Filmmakers to Support

The Criterion collection is not the most inclusive of lists. The majority of films introduced into the canon belong to cisgender and heterosexual filmmakers. While the lack of representation reflects cinema as a whole, and Criterion tends to lean towards an era not known for acceptance, it’s still a disappointing fact. Regardless of this, there are a handful of gay filmmakers whose works have been given the Criterion seal of approval, a trusted sign of the contributions they have made, not only to the art of filmmaking, but to the gay cinematic community as a whole.

 

Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Mysterious Object at Noon (2000)

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Apichatpong Weerasethakul © Vogue Italia, photo by Tommy Andresen

Weerasethakul, affectionally known by his fans as “Joe”, is an experimental filmmaker whose interest in the unconventional makes his feature-length debut, Mysterious Object at Noon, a must-watch from Criterion’s archive. Taking the concept of exquisite corpse (a surreal method by which art is assembled based on chance), Weerasethakul combines documentary filmmaking with art-house style, pushing the boundaries of cinema and successfully creating a patchwork story from various interviewees across Thailand.

Though Weerasethakul’s debut does not explicitly address sexuality, the theme is often explored across his work, alongside various subjects such as nature, Western perceptions of Asia, and dreams. His passion for looking beyond the expectations of the mainstream is undoubtedly influenced by his homosexuality. “For me, the word queer means anything’s possible,” Weerasethakul explained in an interview, allying himself immediately with the concept of queer cinema.

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