Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Superstar

Shortly after I moved to New York I rented a VHS of Todd Haynes' Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story from Kim's Video (R.I.P.). I thought it was so incredible that there were video stores where you could rent bootleg copies of films that were banned, unreleased, or just insanely rare. They also had Kenneth Anger bootlegs and Cocksucker Blues, the infamous Robert Frank documentary about The Rolling Stones. Nowadays, thanks to Youtube, these sorts of films can be seen by anyone, anywhere in the world (except maybe China). Films that would have otherwise remained in the underground now have the potential to reach massive audiences. I hope this is the case with Superstar. The film traces Karen Carpenter's life from the inception of The Carpenters to her death from anorexia related heart failure. The cast is comprised almost entirely of Barbie dolls and Haynes spent months constructing the miniature sets. The attention to detail is incredible; he even went so far as to make a miniature labels for miniature boxes of Ex-Lax. The body of Karen Carpenter's Barbie was whittled down throughout the course of the film.


Superstar was barred from release because of copyright violations; Haynes was never able to acquire the rights to the Carpenters songs featured in the film. Richard Carpenter hated the movie, presumably because it made him look like a dick and insinuated that he was gay. The lack of distribution is unfortunate, not only because the film is good, but also because it is one of the only movies about anorexia. Or rather, it is one of the only movies about anorexia that isn't relegated to the made-for-television category.  It's also too bad that there isn't a high quality version available; the 20+ years of shoddy VHS duplication has really taken it's toll. The Museum of Modern Art owns a copy (presumably less crappy than Youtube's) but they have agreed with the Carpenter estate to never exhibit it. Thanks again Richard Carpenter! Picture quality aside, it is still an incredible and important film and thanks to google video you can watch it right here, right now! Do it.

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8 comments:

jessica said...

last night in my dreams, i was telling strangers and friends to watch this movie. so happy you are blogging about only a few hours after my fortuitous dream.

Chelsea said...

that sounds like a dream that I would have! Or I guess it more accurately describes what I did this morning. Weird!

joy said...

Wow! I am very excited to see this video. I also agree, with google video search and torrents you can see just about anything on the web. Thank you for this post.

m.bardeaux said...

i've wanted to watch this for so long, amazing!!!! thank you internet + chelsea.

Shannon said...

OMG this makes me wish they didn't discontinue the youtube app on the roku... damnit!

LuxiRare said...

Wow this sounds so amazing. I want to watch a movie about eating disorders that isn't Lifetime-ed out. Or remember that bulimia movie on HBO with Calista Flockhart?????

I've been loving your blog so much lateley, I like the constant updates and the writing. Congrats to both you and Megan!

Chelsea said...

Thanks L! You would love this movie, it's so smart. I did see that one with Calista Flockhart, there was also one with Tracey Gold that I remember quite vividly. Glad you appreciate the updates, I have had more time on my hands since I've been in california. And the magazine is almost done, thank god!

kellyr said...

I've been meaning to watch this for a long time. Thanks for reminding me! It was good. I can't stop thinking about iced tea. If people drink iced tea does that mean they're ana? Also, I'm impressed with how informative the documentary was about the disease. Very progressive for '87.