Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Location: milwaukee, wi

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I'm Not There (Todd Haynes, 2007)

In order to avoid the first family holiday blowup this weekend, I ran away to the circus to the movies and finally saw Todd Haynes' I'm Not There, the pseudo-Bob Dylan biopic that utilizes six actors of different races and genders to portray the man in the different phases in his life: Marcus Carl Franklin is Woodie Guthrie (Dylan as a young, boxcar-riding man, based on what he told people about his mysterious background), Ben Whishaw is Arthur Rimbaud (the early artist, when he was fond of answering interview questions with Rimbaud quotes), Christian Bale is Jack Rollins then Pastor John (Dylan the young star, and 20 years later, the born-again Christian), Heath Ledger is Robbie Clark (Dylan the asshole, more or less), Cate Blanchett is Jude Quinn (Dylan gone electric), and Richard Gere is Billy the Kid (Dylan in exile).

The movie, then, has an obvious hook or gimmick. But this is so much more than its parts might suggest. All the actors are stupendous in the role, even though the demands are varying on each part. Whishaw and Bale have the least interesting, in my mind, roles, but even those are well-done. Whishaw, shown only in black and white, at a table being interviewed, has a film-long monologue about the nature of poetry and fame. But really, the movie belongs to Cate Blanchett. Her androgynous portrait of angry Dylan, just gone electric to England, is a bright self-destructive spark in the film. Quinn and his band take out guns rather than electric guitars; they might as well have, how angrily the audience reacted. Quinn is falling apart, physically and mentally, and even though he hangs out with an Edie Sedgwick-type (whose heart he has broken) and Allen Ginsburg (David Cross, whom I could almost take seriously), his life is in disarray. Ledger, Franklin (a true find by Haynes), and Gere are also remarkable in their roles. Ledger has the juiciest role, a real asshole, getting a divorce from his wife (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and spouting misogynistic views.

There's really quite little I can say about this movie that really explains the experience of I'm Not There. I recently read a review that I can no longer find that said the problem with the film is that because it doesn't deal with Dylan as one person, it neglects to address the issue of how these constant transformations take a toll on the person. In the same review (and others), it says that only Dylan fans will be truly interested in the film. I'm no real fan of Bob Dylan, so I took this movie as both a loose biography of the man, but also just as a collection of remarkable stories and performances from one of the real visionary directors of our time. This is Todd Haynes' best work (visually, it is breathtaking), and one of the best films of the year.


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