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Todd Haynes interview

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Chris Mills, Jul 1, 2011.

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  1. Chris Mills

    Chris Mills Well-Known Member

    Wales, UK
    Todd Haynes was interviewed for the June issue of Attitude (UK), and was asked if Superstar, his Karen Carpenter biopic with Barbie dolls, would ever get an official release. Was the problem with Mattel?

    Todd: "It was never Mattel who had the problem, it was always Richard Carpenter. And if you've ever heard him give interviews or talk about Karen Carpenter you can tell that there's such anger there. There's such resentment. I think he's angry that she died and took his career with her, when he thought he was always the talanted one and the one who generated it all. Anyway, we haven't revisited it from a legal standpoint to see if he would be more amenable. I should probably give it another try"

    Richard would never authorize the use of Carpenters music for Todd's film, even if Todd had legally sought the use of Carpenters songs from the outset.
  2. Bruno

    Bruno Member

    Bonn, Germany
    It's a pity, SUPERSTAR doesn't get an official dvd release. It is the truest movie about the Carpenters family and how it destroyed Karen's soul. Gladly, we can watch the movie on youtube.

  3. song4u

    song4u Well-Known Member

    "And if you've ever heard him give interviews or talk about Karen Carpenter you can tell that there's such anger there. There's such resentment. I think he's angry that she died and took his career with her, when he thought he was always the talanted one and the one who generated it all."

    I have never noticed this in Richard's interviews. Sometimes he seems sad, but I've never sensed anger or resentment toward her. :confused:
  4. Geographer

    Geographer Active Member

    You are right. That quote sums up the hope of the "Richard haters." He can do no right.
  5. Actorman

    Actorman Active Member

    Columbus, OH
    If Todd really wanted to "give it another try" with Richard, he probably shouldn't have said such nasty things about him in an interview. If by some slight chance Richard was to a point where he might reconsider giving Todd permission to use the music, Todd probably just blew that chance with these comments.

    I've never seen this film but have always wanted to.
    A&Mguyfromwayback likes this.
  6. song4u

    song4u Well-Known Member

    I think it's available on Youtube.
  7. goodjeans

    goodjeans Active Member

    valley forge, pa
    I have the DVD. Not sure where I got it. After reading "Little Girl Blue," the Haynes movie made more sense to me. The only part that confused me was the scene where K & R are arguing and BarbieKaren alluded to some 'secret' that Richard didn't want to get out. Not sure if it was the Quaalude thing... I need to watch it again.
  8. Calvin R Murty

    Calvin R Murty Member

    BrandonBarry likes this.
  9. Dave60640

    Dave60640 Active Member

    Chicago, Illinois
    The issue with the movie is that they never had legal clearance sought to use
    K&R's recordings but did so anyways. The response was immediate and non negotiable.
    Much more "drama" and tabloid speculation than fact, the movie is camp at best.
    And while Mr. Haynes told us ( in the beginning ) that this was a labor of love and affection for the duo and their music, that message of love never quite translated onto film.
  10. Geographer

    Geographer Active Member

    I seen it. It's terrible! I can't believe that it garners this much attention. People really think this is an actual representation of what really happened? Are you kidding me? It's a lame attempt to dramatize the shallow negative stereotypes surrounding Karen's death serves only to perpetuate the myth that the family "killed" Karen. To be taken as a serious, quality dramatization of the events is completely rediculous. I'm surprised Richard and his legal team even dignified this amatuerish effort with a response.
  11. aaflyer98

    aaflyer98 Well-Known Member

    Phoenix, AZ
    Who really knows how and why it happened? In my opinion, the family played a part, even if only in Karen's mind.
    djn likes this.
  12. song4u

    song4u Well-Known Member

    I just finished reading Randy Schmidt's new book "Yesterday Once More: the Carpenters Reader". On page 275 there is a section about Todd Haynes' movie "Superstar", along with an interview.

    I had never watched the movie, because of what I had read about it on line. After reading this interview I was curious enough to watch it on YouTube. I don't think it's as bad as some have made it out to be, but it's also not something I'd recommend. He seemed to use the TV movie "The Karen Carpenter Story" as his outline and embellished it from there.

    It did reach an audience that may not have been aware of Karen's story, and it did highlight that anorexia is an insidious disease. I can say that much for it.

    Randy's book is a great companion to "Little Girl Blue", as it contains interviews done with Karen during her career.
  13. close2u

    close2u Member

    Denton, Texas
    Interestingly enough, the Haynes film was finished and playing art houses and little theaters all over the place BEFORE "The Karen Carpenter Story" was filmed... lots of similarities and use of music... "This Masquerade" at the wedding and so on...

  14. A&M Retro

    A&M Retro Well-Known Member

    Chicago, Illinois
    There are those close to the Carpenters that claimed the Barbie doll movie was more spot-on than the sanitized TV version.
  15. song4u

    song4u Well-Known Member

    Randy - do you know if Todd Haynes had insider information, or did he just do his research well?
  16. byline

    byline Active Member

    Nova Scotia
    While I have never been the biggest fan of some of Richard's quotes/interpretations after Karen's death, I tend to agree with you. For Haynes to claim that Richard's overwhelming emotion is anger based on jealousy of Karen is, IMO, a gross oversimplification of Richard's state of mind in an extremely complex situation. Yes, I'm sure that Richard was, and is still, angry at Karen for causing her own death through her anorexic behaviors. He even said as much, along with John Bettis, in the shock immediately following her death. Anger is a natural emotion to feel at someone who has taken his/her own life, which is effectively what happens with addictions (and anorexia/bulimia is a subsection of addictive behavior) that cause the addict's death. The powerlessness that loved ones feel to change that situation quite naturally leads to anger. The fact that one's career is directly and inextricably (a special problem with duos) tied to the other person only complicates the anger issues. To act like it's wrong for Richard to feel anger (as one emotion of many) is to completely misunderstand the grieving process.

    I think Haynes is trying to take the easy way out on this one and blame Richard for blocking Superstar's release, when in reality the real issue, as I understand it, is that Haynes tried to get the film released without permission to use the Carpenters' songs. That is outright copyright infringement, and he should have known better. Did he do that deliberately, to bring attention to himself and the film? Only he knows the answer to that question.
    Geographer likes this.
  17. RainyDays

    RainyDays Inactive

    The movie is very interesting and disturbing, but it has been overpraised over the years because most of it is by the numbers and routine as it continues. A cliched rise and fall tale. There is interesting subtext, but the surface is so one-dimensional and shallow.
  18. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Central Florida
    ‘Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story’
    By Rita Kempley
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    January 26, 1989

    Like leisure suits and easy listening, the Carpenters fell from favor when the realities of Watergate and the Asian war made their every "wo-wo-wo-wo" seem an insidious, syrupy form of mind control. At one with America's suburban lullaby, they became the brunt of jokes, seemingly as oblivious as Barbie and Ken.
    Today Karen Carpenter is fashionable again, the subject of a recent TV biography and a far more fascinating 43-minute docudrama, "Superstar," which portrays her as a feminist martyr. Though a straightforward life story, this deadly earnest sociopolitical commentary features a bizarre ensemble of Barbie dolls, uncannily assembled by artist Todd Haynes, who sees Karen variously as a toy, a product and a role model for little girls. Who could imagine feeling empathy for Barbie or finding depth in the Carpenters' "Rainy Days and Mondays"? Haynes, a semiologist, achieves both in this postmodern puppet show.
    The coarse grain of the film and the rigidity of the Barbies impugn the popsicle optimism of the Carpenters' soundtrack, just as Karen's anorexia nervosa destroyed her image as the girl in the split-level next door. And beyond all this, Haynes would show us a pop culture of American Clean that cloaked the corruption of the period. As the Barbie Karen coos "We've Only Just Begun," bombs fall on Cambodia on the television news, part of a series of montages interspersed into the doll docudrama.
    The '60s had subsided and the American people had entered the Brave New World, their ideas shaped by television, their meditation aided by Muzak. Women, in particular, saw that to be loved and accepted they first must be Lite. Men realized that thin women would have sex with them if they managed a close shave.
    It is this fascism of superficiality, this tyranny of perfection as route to acceptance that is the core of "Superstar." Haynes and his collaborator Cynthia Schneider define anorexia nervosa as "an abuse of self-control, a fascism over the body" in response to "a culture that continues to control women through the {selling} of their bodies." They illustrate their point with quick cuts from the Barbie Karen, whose latex is stripped away layer by layer, to footage of concentration camp victims starved to the bone. It's an effective and creepy mix of images: emetics, Ex-Lax packages, emaciated dolls and Hitler's awful human purge.
    Obsessed with purification, the anorexic as "both dictator and victim" becomes the film's philosophical explanation for the bourgeois white woman's affliction. But "Superstar" also offers the psychological answers to "Why at 32 was this smooth-voiced girl found dead in her parents' bedroom?" A controlling family, a demanding career, an addiction to limelight killed the under appreciated overachiever.
    Ma Carpenter, played by a scruffy old Barbie, is seen as the Ma Barker of MOR. "You're not going to get big-headed," says Ma to her twentyish kids. "You're both going to continue living at home."
    "Great suggestion, Mom, and it's in keeping with our image," says brother Richard, portrayed by a coiffed Ken doll with a frozen grin, molded plastic that manages to be oleaginous. Moved by wire and unseen hands, these dolls give us the unnerving impression that children are putting on the show with these antiseptic, asexual golems.
    One critic has written that the Carpenters "recorded the soundtrack for the Reagan era before it started." "Superstar" concurs. Along with its sympathetic treatment of Karen Carpenter, it provokes frightening conclusions. If Karen were alive today, wouldn't she have sung at the Bush inauguration?

    Copyright The Washington Post
  19. A&Mguyfromwayback

    A&Mguyfromwayback Active Member

    Los Angeles
    I made it through about five minutes. Todd Haynes has become a talented filmmaker, but this is a amateurish, ridiculous waste of time. IMHO.
    Geographer likes this.
  20. Haynes' statements are very much something he simply made up but I dig the movie because to me it is a genius job, gross, cruel, creative and way more thrilling and an attention keeper than the CBS flick attempt, I mean, I'm numb at Gibbs' Karen but I do feel for the Barbie Karen, that's the point of bringing a story to screen, you gotta feel for the characters, anything at all, even loathe, whatever. I put Superstar: The Karen Carpenter story way up there with The clockwork orange and Caligula, they are examples of what movie making must be about in the end. I know it can be hard for a fan to make it through though because it is a harsh and distressful piece of film, which is not the cinema gender the average Carpenters fan would enjoy, plus it tells of Karen, which is always emotional. I'm grateful for not having this problem since I'm more an art fan than an artists fan which makes me stand more on objectivity and free-thinking when it comes to praise the merits of this kind of work.

    Oh! And Merrill Gruver and Michael Edwards' voices! My God, one could swear it was really Richard and Karen doing them, they do a delightful, perfect job, they do it so good it is creepy!

    I had no idea Michael Edwards did Terminator 2:

    Last edited: Jan 8, 2015
  21. mstaft

    mstaft Well-Known Member

    Nikifor, I'm not sure there is an "average Carpenters fan". Just look at our boards- we are as diverse as it gets, (and I love that, by the way!)
    My bet is the general assembly of fans also comes from diverse backgrounds.
    djn likes this.
  22. arthowson

    arthowson Active Member

    I've been reprimanded for being anything but "the average fan." Average fans don't have a sense of humor about Karen's weight or Richard's sexuality. Average fans feel Agnes truly loved Karen and that Karen should have been more appreciative of her mother. Average fans feel that Richard's attempts to quash "Superstar, the Karen Carpenter Story" are totally justified. Average fans keep saying Karen is "buried in the mix" on Made in America… whatever that means. I can hear her clearly. Burried in the mix sounds like a Janet Jackson album.
    BrandonBarry and Jamesj75 like this.
  23. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Central Florida
    I will attempt to locate the journal article which compares and contrasts the two extant Biopics.
    (Someone 'out there' actually did academic research , and published, on the topic!).
    I only recall one line of the journal article. saying: There were more truths to the Haynes movie than the Official CBS movie.
    Keep in mind, I have never watched the Haynes Movie--simply no desire to do so.
    Of course, I watched the CBS movie upon its first airing--I enjoyed the music, that's about it.
    Family dynamics being what they are, I would never venture into those muddy waters.
    Career-wise, however, events which surrounded the duo are a bit easier to ascertain, though, still ambiguous.
    As for Album Made In America, Fan Club Newsletters clearly describe that Richard Carpenter had to decline
    three separate pressings before he settled upon one, mentioning two other technical problems which held up production,
    (Newsletter#70, June 1981); thus, there were problems sonically with the album. It is described in the newsletter.
  24. Nicko

    Nicko Active Member

    I watched Superstar the Karen Carpenter story for the first time yesterday and found it fascinating, a bit weird but enjoyable there's nothing offensive in it, other than the sadness of the story.

    If you're a Carpenters fan I would encourage you to watch it, it's a great soundtrack if nothing else appeals to you.
  25. Geographer

    Geographer Active Member

    For the life of me, I do not see why this "amateurish" and "ridiculous" (both great adjectives, btw) film gets so much attention. Even the animation is awful. I think it is because it plays to the "myth" that Richard and Agnes are/were evil and that is why Karen died. It's an incredibly intellectually lazy telling of Karen's life. But to some, it's the ONLY explanation no matter what the real truth is.
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