Blog Post

I'm Not There

Todd Haynes's new movie "I'm Not There" is the great American novel. The saga. The characters. The impersonations. The big themes of celebrity, self, referentiality, letting yourself be the person others aren't expecting even when you have created their expectations by being who you are. There's a very quick frame where Cate Blanchett as one of the Dylans is floating in the air but not free, one foot tethered by a line as thin as a spider's filament, like a helium balloon spinning and airborne, not yet drifting. That's the image I cannot get out of my head. The soundtrack to that image is Antony Hegarty's breath-taking rendition of "Knocking on Heaven's Door." My god. I admire many of the phases of Bob Dylan, but I'm not a huge Dylan fanatic (although even I recognized an iconic jacket or two, those black-and-white pants . . . the clothes, the clothes). "I'm Not There" made me nostalgic, ironically, for European art films, one of Haynes's inspirations. There are many inspirations in this movie and lots of cultural references as well as Dylan references. Visually, the movement from one style to another is so stunning and evocative that consistency now looks bland and boring. The cinematic mashup is breathtaking. "Everything Except Compromise" is the subtitle of the little explanatory program they give you when you walk into the movie theater and Haynes's filmmaking is everything except compromise. So is the acting. Not a bad moment. I've loved Todd Haynes since the Karen Carpenter-with-Barbie-Dolls movie. Genius. Great scene where Dylan is being grilled about "selling out" and who does he pass but Alan Ginsberg who, when questioned about whether Dylan has sold out responds, "You sold out to God." So many delicious moments. Charlotte Gainsbourg. Oh, my. I especially liked the way Richard Gere embodied not only every Dylan but also every Richard Gere. And the wondrous little kid as Dylan's myth of himself, Marcus Carl Franklin. His incarnation held up to Cate Blanchett's. I loved the twitchy video-game editing with the Fellini imagery. And then the Rohmer-esque pan shots, lassitude and luxe. Like the fabulous sound track. A movie for the ages. That's my review and I'm sticking to it.




Ken just sent me the NY Times Review. Although I'm annoyed that the reviewer plagiarized my blog at key points (I'm joking, of course!), I love this review and love all the things that are part of it--like a video of Todd Haynes and the notebooks he makes for his actors before they start filming, and the images, and conversations and gestures. Great stuff for a fan of the movie and helpful if the movie left you confused. Or both.


Thanks for your review - I'd considered seeing it but your review convinced me to see it, and it was worth it. Impressive.