The Portland-based filmmaker Todd Haynes has been interested in the dramas and melodramas of domestic life for decades now. Safe, in 1995, focused on the invisible but pervasive toxicity of modern living; Far From Heaven, in 2002, explored the simmering racial and sexual politics of the sububurban 1950s. Now he’s bringing those concerns from the big screen to home screens. Mildred Pierce is his latest work, a five-part mini-series that’s airing now on HBO. It focuses on a newly single mother in the middle of the Great Depression and follows both the blossoming of her entrepreneurial efforts and the splintering of her family life.
In a recent interview, Haynes offered one reason that women-centered dramas have formed one central strand in a diverse body of work:
Due to a unique burden of conformity that they carry and a direct relationshop to emotions, women are the most interesting subjects on film.
We’ll talk to Haynes about women as film subjects and what he’s found in Portland (he’s been here since 2000), as well as what it has been like to move from feature-length films to a five-plus hour TV mini-series.
What are your favorites from Todd Haynes’s filmography? Why? What questions do you have for him?