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Poison (1991) - Todd Haynes
Related: Jean Genet - Todd Haynes - 1991 - American cinema - film
Poison (1991) - Todd Haynes [Amazon.com]
Best film adaptation of Genet to date
Todd Haynes's penchant for postmodern parody (recently displayed in the deliberately garish melodrama Far From Heaven) can be seen in Poison, his first feature film. Haynes invokes obscure Poverty-Row horror films and television documentaries, among other cinematic forms. Some of the images are lovely, some are ugly, and some are extremely difficult to watch. All represent, in one form or another, French writer Jean Genet's view of sexuality -- pessimistic and frequently angry, but never entirely bleak.
This film was one of the infamous "NEA 4" projects that led then-Senator Jesse Helms to impose standards of decency on the National Endowment for the Arts. Poison may be best known for the scandal it generated inside Washington's corridors of power, but it's still a brilliant film.
Now, the bad news: Video and audio transfers on this DVD are poor, and I'm not certain that the film is presented in its proper aspect ratio. (The transfer is full-frame, but since I didn't notice any obvious image cropping, it's possible that the film was made at either 1.33:1 or 1.66:1.) The only extras are a theatrical trailer and a rather good audio commentary from the director, the producer and the editor. --Timothy Hulsey via amazon.com
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