Film Reviews, Interviews
Here’s a review of “Carol” from Lesflicks:
Comedy, 7 mins
This is an (almost scene-for-scene) parody of the 2015 Todd Haynes film.
It’s refreshing to see someone expose Carol for who she really is: a self-indulgent rich girl who treats people as if they were toys.
Whether you loved or hated Todd Haynes’ 2015 adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s Carol, Krissy Mahan’s Playmobile parody of it is a welcome criticism of a movie that’s been blindly embraced by the film academy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m on the side that loved it, but it’s refreshing to see someone expose Carol for who she really is: a self-indulgent rich girl who treats people as if they were toys.
This is not the first time Mahan uses Playmobiles in place of real actors. A quick scan of her brilliantly named blog, dykeumentary.com, will reveal that she’s made at least three other shorts using this technique. However, it’s especially poignant in this instance given Haynes’ own use of the technique in his earlier 1988 Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, an over-simplified version of the singer’s eating disorder*. Mahan’s parody seems to do to Carol what Haynes does to eating disorders, that is, stripping it down to some basic and simplified concept.
But, unlike Haynes’ 1988 film, the result is hilarious. Phrases such as “I shoot guns when I’m upset,” or “I’ll just casually lose these expensive gloves: everything’s replaceable!” take real moments from the original film and give them a different meaning altogether. What makes this even better is the flawless impression Mahan does of Blanchett’s voice, especially the unforgettable line “We are NOT ugly people” (which, as Mahan shows, seems to be quite the statement coming from someone who just called her ex to pick up the ‘Shop-girl’ she left in a motel…).
The only thing I would warn viewers is to not come away from Mahan’s parody with a binary view of Carol, i.e. that it’s either ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Just like Tom Ripley, Carol is another one of Patricia Highsmith’s complex – and manipulative – characters. The skill in Highsmith’s art lies in the way in which she invites readers to fall in love and even sympathize with these otherwise repulsive characters. And this is something that Haynes successfully translated onto the screen.
On that same note, and here is where I agree with Mahan, it’s important not to praise Carol uncritically. Just like it’s not all ‘bad’ it’s not all ‘good’ either. This was a trap the predominantly white hetero male film academy seemed more than happy to fall into. They didn’t seem to mind turning a blind eye to the class and race implications of the film, so long as they got an LGBTQ diversity token in for that year. Mahan points this out remarkably well in the sex scene (never thought I’d watch Playmobiles having sex, but hey…), which she accompanies with the following text: “This HOT lesbian sex scene was CENSORED for the Oscars television audiences.” It kind of says it all: “we’ll take your lesbian film so long as you make it palatable for us.”
Let’s hope for Mahan’s sake that Playmobile sex doesn’t upset them too much.
*In Haynes’ defense, it hasn’t been until recently that the complexity and range of eating disorders has been examined and discussed in a more public discourse.
You can find Carol and other similar shorts in this year’s Wicked Queer Boston Film Festival.
“(My Aunt Mame’s) playfulness in its composition juxtaposes its seriousness in content, mirroring the director’s experience of caring for a family member while filming the piece.”
— SQIFF Shorts: Defiant Dykes. Glasgow University Magazine. Scotland, October 2017
“Over the past twenty years Mahan has developed a body of work exposing the absurdity of man-made barriers to human movement, happiness, and social access.”
— “The Women of Over 50 Film Festival.” Curve Magazine. USA, August 2017
“My Aunt Mame is a funny/sad dramatization of a woman’s childhood…told through Fisher-Price people in homemade sets.”
“A story touching on healthcare politics & culture. This was beautiful.”
— 2017 Reviews, Planet 9 Film Festival. USA, September, 2017
“So brilliantly hilarious!”
– Toronto Queer Film Festival on Facebook October 30, 2018
“Keep making films, Krissy. The community wants to see more from you!”
— Dyke Drama Film Fest on Facebook, 29 May 2018.
“Thank you for submitting your film. The audience laughed a lot during the comedic moments!”
— SpliceFilmFest on Twitter, 11 June 2018.
“This Carol parody is a simple yet spectacular class analysis of the desire in Todd Haynes’ already iconic Carol, using DIY techniques and Fisher Price toys to recreate the modern queer classic.”
“…this one isn’t *shy.* Good luck with this, dykeumentary.”
— Carol screenwriter Phyllis Nagy on Twitter, September 2016
LGBTQ Review (UK), October 2017
Live Interview with Krissy Mahan on London Live Television, UK, August 2015
Appearances on Film
Des!re, Film, 2017
Director: Campbell X
When I Knew, TV Film, 2008.
Dir: Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato
Queering the Countryside: New Frontiers in Rural Queer Studies, ed. Mary L. Gray, Colin R. Johnson, Brian J. Gilley. NYU Press, 2015 (pp 174-177)
On Children’s Literature and the (Im)Possibility of It Gets Better, ed. Merritt Mason. ESC: English Studies in Canada, Volume 38, Issue 3-4, September/December 2012. (pp. 91-95)
It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, an Creating A Life Worth Living, ed. Dan Savage and Terry Miller. Dutton, 2011, pp. 71-73).
Experiments in a Jazz Aesthetic: Art, Activism, Academia and the Austin Project, ed. Omi Osun Joni L Jones, Lisa L. Moore, and Sharon Bridgforth (University of Texas Press, 2010, pp.106-109).
That Takes Ovaries: Bold Females And Their Brazen Acts, ed. Rivka Solomon (Three Rivers Press, 2002, pp.152-153).