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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Colin Covert, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) (TNS)

Formal experimentation and challenging social commentary are the creative signatures of director Todd Haynes. He opted, after all, for six different actors to portray the public personas of Bob Dylan in his 2007 film I’m Not There.

An openly gay filmmaker, Haynes’ central concern is oppressive moral authoritarianism on the lives of those who don’t conform to gendered or sexual expectations.

In Carol, Haynes’ sixth feature, he puts forth a striking and distinctive vision. It is based on a 1952 chronicle of a lesbian affair, a shocker of the era published under a pseudonym by crime novelist Patricia Highsmith, whose nearly 30 published volumes of fiction have produced such unnerving films as Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train and Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley.

The new film stars Oscar winner Cate Blanchett and Oscar nominee Rooney Mara as married, upper-class Carol and shop girl Therese — closeted lesbians in love. The look of the pitch-perfect period film could be mistaken for an Eisenhower-era romantic women’s picture. Haynes, renowned for his homages to the history of cinema, began work on the film with a rich research process. In this case, there were references to key films like Brief Encounter, David Lean’s 1945 about English suburban life.

“I was looking for what they told me about the love story as a genre,” Haynes said.

“And it was really informative and useful to Cate and Rooney to watch these things,” Haynes said. Women of the time exhibited “a kind of codified femininity that’s contained with a decorum to it. They didn’t behave like any woman you would know today except maybe your grandmother.”

Highsmith’s novel contains notes unspoken by the characters but charged with meaning, observations like “Happiness was like a green vine spreading through her, stretching fine tendrils, bearing flowers through her flesh.”

Haynes said he intended to create the film in parallel form. He aimed for performances light on dialogue but expressive by “hiring magicians” for the roles.

“A lot of what we did in rehearsal was removing lines,” he said. “We wanted not to clutter it up. Rooney would be saying ‘Does she need to say that?’ and I would say, ‘You’re so right.’ That’s not always the case with actors, some of who love to talk and add things.”

His performers were thrilled by the challenge of working in a different way “to distill down the information,” Haynes said.

Though it is set more than half a century in the past, Haynes feels the film is still worth telling today.

“Love stories require an obstacle between the lovers, something that keeps them from one another. You have to yearn for the love that can’t be fulfilled. And it gets harder to conceive of viable cultural or racial or sexual obstacles between people as we move forward progressively.

“I felt Brokeback Mountain re-imbued the love story with an authentic and unquestionable series of obstacles that these men faced. I think that’s certainly true for Carol, as well.”

(c)2015 Star Tribune (Minneapolis). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]