Saturday, November 24, 2007

Jason watches "I'm Not There"

Yeah, it's a semi-biopic about Bob Dylan in which 6 actors play various parts of his personality, including Cate Blanchett (my favorite of the six) and black child actor Marcus Carl Franklin. Okay, I've kinda seen the same thing in Todd Solondz's "Palindromes" where he had 7 actors playing a little girl. None of them are actually named Bob Dylan (the only time he's mentioned by name is a note during the credits saying the movie is inspired by his life and music).

If this weren't about Bob Dylan--and possibly if this weren't directed by Todd Haynes--this could come across as a pretentious film school experiment. As it is, it embraces the chaos inherent in any fully realized character, and especially in Dylan. The traditional biopic doesn't really capture who any person really is, it captures the small sample of what the subject means to the people who care about him. In this case, the movie is doing one of two things. Maybe it's trying to bypass that tradition in favor of a truer representation, and showcasing how Bob Dylan (like any truly interesting person) is so complicated that he can't be summed up with one performance. Or maybe it is sticking to the premise that biopics can't really show the subject as much as what the subject means to the people who care about him--but Bob Dylan just means too many different things to too many people.

Either way it's a form-breaking challenge, and hardcore Dylan fans could get much more out of repeated viewings. Or you can just groove to a couple hours of Dylan music with semi-biographical stories set to it. If nothing else, the scene where he goes electric (played by Cate Blanchett) is one of the fucking coolest things I've seen in a while.

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