Monday, December 3, 2007

I'm Not There (2007, Todd Haynes)

I'm a gigantic huge big fan of Bob Dylan now. I knew a couple of his songs a couple of years ago but after Scorsese's documentary about him blew my mind I was quick to get all of his earlier albums and I just went deep into his work. I listened to all of his albums up to John Wesley Harding over and over again. I saw Don't Look Back and No Direction Home a couple of times more too. I even read a book about him. Good times.

So, when I read that the guy who did Far From Heaven (one of my favorites from this decade so far) was doing a kinda-but-not-really biopic about him I was sold. I promised myself that I would go watch it no matter what as soon as it opened around me and I did just that.

My feelings towards the film are extremely mixed. I feel this way because I walked into the film as a big Bob Dylan fan, I watched the film as a big Bob Dylan fan, and I walked out of the theater as a big Bob Dylan fan. Because of this I felt that I for the most part (I still dont know what to make of Richard Gere's segment) understood the film. Or at least understood as much as there is to understand from the film from a first viewing. By this I mean that I understood all the references, I understood who was supposed to be who, and I understood and knew about some of the events that occur during the film. Of course, as I already wrote, I dont think I fully understood Gere's part. I mean, I understand what the general purpose of it and what the theme was about but it was just so odd and surreal that I just don't quite know what to make of it.

So, because of me being a fan I liked it. However, often times I was left wondering if what I was watching was just a circle jerk film for Dylan fans. I couldn't picture the film making much sense to someone who doesnt know much about Dylan. I could of course be wrong but I will never know since I will never see the film from that perspective. From the perspective that I watched it from - I don't see it making much sense at all. I don't consider this a good thing at all.

I'm not going to go into the whole "Haynes presents a film as complex as Dylan blah blah blah etc.. etc.." thing. Read any of the many reviews that are out right now for the film and you will find that there. I liked the films unique artistic approach and I also liked the film for flipping the "music biopic" genre on it's head after all of the recent films from that genre that we have seen. I also agree with a lot of critics when they have pointed out how after watching this film it is really hard to imagine anyone doing a straight biopic on Bob Dylan.

I don't think there is much more I can write about it. I will have to watch it a couple of more times to fully grasp everything the film is offering since this is one film that has so much going on that one viewing doesn't do it justice.

Also, because the couple of people that I have talked to about regarding this film have all asked me the same question of "So who did the best Dylan?" or "Who had the best segment" OR "who was the best actor?" So, I will just break it down for anyone that is wondering any of this...which I am sure all of you are *sarcasm*

If I could rank the Dylan's (in terms of getting Dylan 's actions and movements down. Not performance wise) it would go...

1. Cate Blanchett (She lives up to the hype.)
2. Ben Wishaw
3. Christian Bale
4. Heath Ledger
5. Marcus Carl Franklin
6. Richard Gere

If I would rank the segments (which I don't think is right in an odd way) I would rank them...

1. Heath Ledger (This one surprised me a lot.)
2. Marcus Carl Franklin
3. Cate Blanchett
4. Christian Bale
5. Ben Wishaw
6. Richard Gere

I'm Not There is an easy film to hate on and it's easy to call it a pretentious film. I didn't find it pretentious in anyway and watching it from the perspective of a Dylan fan I always had a smile on my face and every time a new reference would come up I would get an even bigger fanboy smile on my face.

I also find myself really hating the Richard Gere segment a lot when I think back on the film. It really pulls the film down a lot in my opinion, of course.

- B+

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