Sparks on Celluloid: Haynes + Vachon, Week 2

The sparkly retrospective of the great writer-producer team reaches for heaven.

Mildred Pierce (Courtesy Photo)

While the whole festival is about acknowledging the influences on the collaborations of director Todd Haynes and his producer Christine Vachon, the second weekend of SFMOMA’s Sparks on Celluloid: Haynes + Vachon is heavy on the retellings, and goes deep down the (Douglas) Sirkhole. On Saturday, a free screening of Haynes’ 2011 miniseries Mildred Pierce — based on the James M. Cain novel, and previously filmed in 1945 by Michael Curtiz — is followed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1974 Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, a remake of Douglas Sirk’s iconic 1955 melodrama All That Heaven Allows.

Fassbinder updates the story to a forbidden romance between an older woman and a Moroccan immigrant in contemporary Germany, while the title non-coincidentally has the same number of syllables and begins with the same phonemes. (Enough with the remakes, mid-1970s German film industry! Why don’t you come up with an original idea for a change?) Ali: Fear Eats the Soul leads into Haynes’ 2002 Sirk riff, Far From Heaven, set in the original’s Eisenhower America while retaining the racial elements of Fassbinder’s Ali. The seminal Sirk sudser won’t actually be shown until Sunday, and is followed by the San Francisco premiere of Haynes’ new film Wonderstruck, which has nothing to do with Sirk but is still worth catching.

Sparks on Celluloid: Haynes + Vachon, Week 2
Now playing at SFMOMA.

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