DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: I'M NOT THERE

Wednesday, 19 December 2007


I’m Not There (2007) dir. Todd Haynes
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Richard Gere, Christian Bale, Marcus Carl Franklin, Ben Whishaw, Heath Ledger


Todd Haynes’ film about the many lives of Bob Dylan is cinematic masturbation of the highest order. The idea of having different actors play Bob Dylan in his various stages of his career including a woman and young black child is intriguing, but Todd Haynes over-intellectualizes the man so much the film becomes a sloppy esoteric mess.

I don’t even know where to start. Nothing at all made sense to me. A young male child is introduced first as Dylan when we see him board a train like a hobo in the 1930’s. Except it’s not the 30’s (or is it?) and his name isn’t Bob Dylan, its Woody Guthrie. Huh? We see the Ben Whishaw Dylan intercut with the other Dylans. He’s talking to camera, but I think it’s the point of view of a press conference. He expounds philosophically on something that went so far over my head I stopped paying attention. The Christian Bale Dylan is named Jack Rollins, and he represents the beginning of his folk career when he made a name for himself in the Greenwich Village scene in the early 60’s. Heath Ledger plays the egotistical Dylan, named Robbie Clark, who marries and starts a family with a Parisian bohemian named Claire. The Cate Blanchett character is named Jude Quinn and represents the enigmatic mid 60’s superstar Dylan. Lastly, the Richard Gere Dylan is from Sam Peckinpah’s 1973 film “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid”, but he’s actually Billy the Kid in the 1800’s. Or is he? Towards the end of the film we see Richard Gere driving away in a car? What the fuck?? Incidentally Dylan’s character in the actual film was not Billy but his friend Alias. Confused?

I was confused in the first five minutes. The only way any person could understand the film without making massive leaps of guesswork is if they had intimate knowledge of Dylan’s songs and the specific events in his career. I’m somewhat knowledgeable of his 60’s music, but the only event I recognized was the first time the Beatles smoked up with Dylan in London. Apparently the character who hangs around the Cate Blanchett Dylan for the whole film was Robbie Robertson. I had no idea. Why didn’t Haynes tell us? Nor did I know the town in which the Richard Gere’s character was wandering around was the name of a Dylan song and all the characters in those scenes were supposedly mentioned in the song.

The film is much like Haynes’ other rock and roll film, “Velvet Goldmine”, his ambitious and heavily-flawed film about glam rock in the 70’s. Like “Goldmine” few of the scenes flow with one another; there’s seems to be no structure, nor transitions don’t make any sense and the characters speak in confusing riddles. “Inland Empire” made more sense than this.

Oh yeah, Julianne Moore appears in a series of mockumentary sequences, there’s some Oliver Stone JFK-type sequences that use stock footage to make some sort of point about the Vietnam War and there's some recreations from "Fellini's 8 1/2" (that stuff I did get, but for people who haven't seen that film...watch out.)

What angers me is the contempt Haynes shows to his audience - contempt for someone, like me, who is familiar with his music, but not his personal life. How can he expect me to keep up with his impenetrable and cryptic ramblings? Do I need to read a Dylan biography before seeing the film? Apparently so.

Dylan’s music was meant to incite thought and action by the average working Joe. By cutting out 99% of his audience and elevating his story into the upper strata of high brow intellectualism he’s undermined everything Dylan’s music stood for. “I’m Not There” is one of the worst theatrical experiences I’ve had in a while. I now need to cleanse my soul by watching “Ghost Rider.” Thanks.


Andrew D. Wells said...

Don't Do It! Don't watch "Ghost Rider", plaese.

Josh said...

Lol Andrew...

I really enjoyed "I'm Not There" because of its abstract nature. I think there are a lot of movies out there like this that affect people in polar ways. My girlfriend is as far from a Dylan fan as one can get, and she loved this movie.

What did you think of Cate Blanchett's performance?

P. K. Nail said...

I don't know much of anything about Dylan's life either, though I'm a *huge* fan of his music, and I thought this film was brilliant. I felt having the six different personas bizarrely made him seem even more human and less the unapproachable legend.

Alan Bacchus said...

I'll concede that Blanchett was good, but I still don't want to see her win another Oscar for doing another celebrity impression (after K. Hepburn).
Thanks for the comments!

Mark A. Fedeli said...

bacchus, i couldn't feel more in agreement. a few weeks ago i wrote a review on my film blog (a wandering and unfocused mess compared to yours) which expressed much of the same frustrations. i'm a huge Dylan and cinema fan and i was pissed off 5 seconds into this film. i think i'll go watch pursuit of happyness again.

thanks for summing up my thoughts better than i did!


Patrick said...

But the film's not at its core about Dylan, you don't need to know that stuff is related to his songs when the metaphors work so well on their own. What the film is about is the construction of personal identity over the course of one's life. The Richard Gere segment, which has caused people a lot of problems, is central to this because it makes explicit the idea of putting on different personalities as a means of escape. He goes to a town where every day is Halloween, that's pretty clear.

I wrote up a whole review here, which goes more in depth. Basically, the way I see the film, all you need to know is that Dylan was a singer, the film tells you the rest.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading this blog for quite a long time. And now I've realized that you "film critic" is really really ignorant. I bet you've been making films for quite a while rite? Tell me one of the movies that you've made and I will be honored to review it.

p/s no hard feelings okay

Anonymous said...

豆豆聊天室 aio交友愛情館 2008真情寫真 2009真情寫真 aa片免費看 捷克論壇 微風論壇 大眾論壇 plus論壇 080視訊聊天室 情色視訊交友90739 美女交友-成人聊天室 色情小說 做愛成人圖片區 豆豆色情聊天室 080豆豆聊天室 小辣妹影音交友網 台中情人聊天室 桃園星願聊天室 高雄網友聊天室 新中台灣聊天室 中部網友聊天室 嘉義之光聊天室 基隆海岸聊天室 中壢網友聊天室 南台灣聊天室 南部聊坊聊天室 台南不夜城聊天室 南部網友聊天室 屏東網友聊天室 台南網友聊天室 屏東聊坊聊天室 雲林網友聊天室 大學生BBS聊天室 網路學院聊天室 屏東夜語聊天室 孤男寡女聊天室 一網情深聊天室 心靈饗宴聊天室 流星花園聊天室 食色男女色情聊天室 真愛宣言交友聊天室 情人皇朝聊天室 上班族成人聊天室 上班族f1影音視訊聊天室 哈雷視訊聊天室 080影音視訊聊天室 38不夜城聊天室 援交聊天室080 080哈啦聊天室 台北已婚聊天室 已婚廣場聊天室 夢幻家族聊天室 摸摸扣扣同學會聊天室 520情色聊天室 QQ成人交友聊天室 免費視訊網愛聊天室 愛情公寓免費聊天室 拉子性愛聊天室 柔情網友聊天室 哈啦影音交友網 哈啦影音視訊聊天室 櫻井莉亞三點全露寫真集 123上班族聊天室 尋夢園上班族聊天室 成人聊天室上班族 080上班族聊天室 6k聊天室 粉紅豆豆聊天室 080豆豆聊天網 新豆豆聊天室 080聊天室 免費音樂試聽 流行音樂試聽 免費aa片試看A片 免費a長片線上看 色情貼影片 免費a長片 本土成人貼圖站 大台灣情色網 台灣男人幫論壇 A圖網 嘟嘟成人電影網 火辣春夢貼圖網 情色貼圖俱樂部 台灣成人電影 絲襪美腿樂園 18美女貼圖區 柔情聊天網 707網愛聊天室聯盟 台北69色情貼圖區 38女孩情色網 台灣映像館 波波成人情色網站 美女成人貼圖區 無碼貼圖力量 色妹妹性愛貼圖區 日本女優貼圖網 日本美少女貼圖區 亞洲風暴情色貼圖網 哈啦聊天室 美少女自拍貼圖 辣妹成人情色網 台北女孩情色網 辣手貼圖情色網 AV無碼女優影片 男女情色寫真貼圖 a片天使俱樂部 萍水相逢遊戲區 平水相逢遊戲區 免費視訊交友90739 免費視訊聊天 辣妹視訊 - 影音聊天網 080視訊聊天室 日本美女肛交 美女工廠貼圖區 百分百貼圖區 亞洲成人電影情色網 台灣本土自拍貼圖網 麻辣貼圖情色網 好色客成人圖片貼圖區 711成人AV貼圖區 台灣美女貼圖區 筱萱成人論壇 咪咪情色貼圖區 momokoko同學會視訊 kk272視訊 情色文學小站 成人情色貼圖區 嘟嘟成人網 嘟嘟情人色網 - 貼圖區 免費色情a片下載 台灣情色論壇 成人影片分享 免費視訊聊天區 微風 成人 論壇 kiss文學區 taiwankiss文學區