I will confess that I don't turn out for the Macon Film Guild's screenings nearly as often as I should, but there is absolutely no way I'll miss this weekend's Sunday flick.
Todd Haynes' "I'm Not There," his trippy, segmented tribute to Bob Dylan, was one of the movies I desperately wanted to see in 2007 but never had the opportunity to. I didn't want to make the sacrifice of watching it on my rather minuscule TV, so thankfully the Film Guild has come to the rescue.
In what should be a really popular offering, "I'm Not There" is being screened at 2, 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Douglass Theatre in downtown Macon. As an added bonus, devoted Dylanophile Larry Schlesinger, also known as the Rabbi of Temple Beth Israel and a member of the Macon City Council, will lead a discussion following the 4:30 showing. (Being a habitual loner after movies, I confess I'll probably just go to the 2 p.m. showing and think about what I just saw on the ride home.)
Though much has been made of Cate Blanchett's Oscar-nominated turn as the mystery man himself, I'm most looking forward to seeing Marcus Carl Franklin, who opens the film as "Woody Guthrie" (a young black kid, of course), and to seeing the late Heath Ledger and Charlotte Gainsbourg, because I must confess I've just had a mad crush on Charlotte ever since "La Petite Voleuse."
However, rather than hear me talk anymore about a movie I haven't seen, here are snippets from three reviewers I really like, with links to the whole review if you wish to continue reading.
First up is the Washington Post's Ann Hornaday:
The resulting film, "I'm Not There," is a fascinating exercise that, if the viewer is willing to surrender to Haynes's sometimes hermetic meditations on Dylan's life, heartily rewards the investment. Often using real-life vignettes and Dylan's own quotations as his jumping-off point, Haynes has created an antidote to the "Behind the Music" chronology and one-dimensional caricatures that too often define musical biopics, delivering an absorbing, occasionally mind-bending disquisition on how Dylan has brilliantly eluded his audience's projections. You can read more here.
Next is Dana Stevens, who revealed her own mad crush on Cate Blanchett at Slate:
Cate Blanchett is Bob Dylan: Could there be a sexier above-the-title tagline? But Haynes' casting choice functions as far more than a clever stunt. The gender reversal introduces a strangeness that makes us look at both performers through new eyes. And though you soon forget that Blanchett is a woman—her channeling of the Don't Look Back-era Dylan is that uncanny—you never for a moment forget that she, like Jude Quinn, is a performer. Blanchett shares Dylan's knack for moving audiences deeply without disclosing much of herself, and her Jude is a magnetic cipher, seductive without being likable. When a British journalist (Bruce Greenwood), intent on exposing the self-invented singer as a fraud, questions him harshly in the back seat of a limo, you don't know whose side to take: Yes, the interviewer is a reductive prig, but Jude is a self-important asshole. Blanchett conveys all of this while still keeping you wrapped around her (or is it Jude's?) little finger. Before, I thought of Cate Blanchett as a beautiful and gifted actress. After this crush-inducing performance, I'm seriously considering flying to Australia to stalk her. Read more here.
And finally, a daily stop for me, the Onion AV Club:
The more Dylan you take into I'm Not There, the more you'll get out of it. And even for the devout, Haynes' daring and reference games don't always pay off. A sequence set to the square-checks-out-the-counterculture classic "Ballad Of A Thin Man" is way too on-the-nose, moments when Dylan lyrics turn up in the dialogue clang like failed jokes, and the film doesn't so much end as slowly fade out. But the missteps don't detract from the thrilling brilliance of the filmmaking (aided by the remarkable cinematographer Ed Lachman), or dim the sense that Haynes was right in deciding that the fractions of the man would add up to more than the man himself.
A.V. Club Rating: B+ Read more here.
Well, not quite finally, because the naysayers should have their say too. Rex Reed sure must have been in a sour mood when he wrote this screed about the 2007 New York Film Festival. While I unfortunately agree with him about Wes Anderson's "Darjeeling Limited," I really liked Noah Baumbach's "Margot at the Wedding." Here's what Reed had to say about "I'm Not There" to finish off his New York Observer rant:
I cannot believe this is the Todd Haynes who topped my ten-best list in 2002 with the magnificent, unforgettable Far From Heaven. Headed for the No. 1 spot on my ten-worst list, I’m Not There is a tumultuous disappointment. Chopped and shredded into shards of avant-garde impressionism, the film is without a thread of narrative coherence. It’s a 135-minute Cobb salad, what I call jerk-off filmmaking. It desperately needs cutting, and they should use a hatchet.
Well, I guess everyone's welcome to their opinion, and in Reed's defense his piece is pretty friggin' funny. However, I'm almost certain he's wrong about "I'm Not There," so I hope to see a lot of you Maconites at the Douglass on Sunday.
In closing, rather than simply a clip from the flick, here's a fairly funny one of Rainn Wilson "auditioning" for director Todd Haynes as a bit for the most recent Spirit Awards show. Enjoy, and have a great weekend. Peace out.