Another quizzical music biography by Mr. Haynes. Someone said that any of his music movies (“Karen Carpenter Story”, Bowie doc “Velvet Goldmine”) could be titled “I’m Not There”. Dylan is actually there, playing harmonica in close-up at the very very end.

Dylans:

Rimbaud / in interview room giving evasive answers / guy from “Perfume”

Woody / train-hopping authentic-sounding blues kid actually a runaway / Marcus Carl Franklin from “Be Kind Rewind”

Billy / quiet recluse living in a western town of his own imagination / Richard Gere

Robbie / guy playing Dylan in typical hollywood bio-pic / Heath Ledger

Jack / fame-shunning Christian folk singer / Christian (heh) Bale

Jude (also heh) / the well-known “don’t look back” 60’s dylan who cavorts with the Beatles and flippantly defies fan and media expectations / Cate Blanchett in one of my favorite performances of the year

Aaand Charlotte Gainsbourg is Robbie’s estranged wife, who is the heart of the movie, the only character with actual human emotion and understandable actions. She barely belongs except to keep the thing reigned in a little.

Fascinating movie, amazing music (Dylan of course) and b/w/color cinematography (Ed Lachman – The Limey, Far From Heaven, A Prairie Home Companion). Must see again and again.

We rented this on the drive home from “August Rush”. It had a dual purpose: Katy could watch another, hopefully better movie where Jonathan Rhys Meyers sings, and I could try again to join the growing legion of Todd Haynes fans before seeing “I’m Not There”.

Given a second chance (first time it totally lost me), it’s an interesting movie with an awesome look to it. Good music but not my favorite (I never got glam – the music’s not exciting when you take away the clothes). Another thing I noticed this time is how the story is a big ol’ ripoff/tribute to Citizen Kane, with Christian Bale in the reporter/interviewer role.

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Jonathan RM is an illegal bootleg of David Bowie and Ewan McGregor is a semi-legit Iggy Pop.

Toni Collette (of nothing I’m likely to see except maybe “the dead girl”) plays RM’s wife and I got her confused a lot, and Eddie Izzard (of “across the universe” and his own bad self) is RM’s manager.

What is going on?, most of the time, still, especially towards the end, but with the lovely glammy visuals, who cares either? RM and Iggy Pop have a hot affair and half-fuel half-wreck each other’s careers, and there’s booze and such. I felt really on top of things while watching this, but just a few days later I’m lost in a drug haze of cool shots and floaty feathers and got nothing to say.

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Dude who looks an awful lot like Leo Dicaprio and will soon star in Speed Racer plays Chris, who abandons his rich dysfunctional family (Marcia Gay Harden: Tim Robbins’ wife in Mystic River, William Hurt: the killer brother in A History of Violence, Jena Malone: Donnie Darko‘s girlfriend) and heads into the wild. Along the way he makes himself a new family, two hippie parents (some dude and Catherine Keener), grandfather Hal Holbrook (star of Creepshow: The Crate), and a sister (the girl from Panic Room). Then he lets them all down by failing to eat properly out in the Alaskan wilderness.

An emotional movie, full of warmth and humanity, but not enough of either for our main character who leaves it all behind to pursue his Alaskan dream. According to the movie/diary he hoped/intended to return before he was sidelined by an impassible river and some poisonous veggies.

Movie walks the line between putting Chris forth as a hero, a role model, a visionary who got a few details wrong vs. a deluded kid whose family drove him to self-destruction, maybe slanted towards the latter. Some quick editing, lots of askew close-ups, foreground in a corner of the frame with something blurry happening in the large looming distance. A strange, interesting look to the movie with artistic intentions to be sure. An ambitious picture, almost all successful. I liked it a lot, but I have to say Grizzly Man still has the edge.

ADDENDUM: thanks to the Golden Globe award nominations, I am now remembering to mention that the Eddie Vedder songs were distracting.

My new hero Nathan Lee of Slate on this movie:

I immediately and powerfully sympathized with the questing hero — I, too, am a privileged young man undergoing an existential crisis! — but as his quest went on (and on and on and on and on), I found myself less and less invested. The trajectory of the movie proved emotionally frustrating but ethically acute: My gradual alienation from the “hero,” our ostensible audience surrogate, was replaced by empathy with all those marvelous supporting characters he encounters on his journey, a set of alternative families he briefly joins then abandons. Into the Wild is a conventional treatment of the same theme contemplated through kaleidoscope in I’m Not There. Both movies celebrate the thrill of personal reinvention while simultaneously attending to the spiritual toll of perpetual escape. Neither film is hagiographic; neither odyssey ends up feeling very heroic. If I’m Not There packed the greater wallop for me, it’s probably because I connect on a deeper intellectual and emotional level to Haynes’ mega-meta technique than Penn’s nostalgic naturalism.

Movie 2 of the Key Sunday Cinema Club. Hated it, skipped the post-movie discussion to sneak into the oscar shorts. Thanks anyway, Katy! Not your fault.

Opens right up with a big damned heavyhanded metaphor, where our boy Wilberforce (his real name, haha, and played by Mr. Fantastic!) stops some white brutes from kicking their black horse out in the rain. Some poignant shit right there. Then a whole movie about racism with only one black person in it follows.

The one black person is Youssou N’Dour in his English feature film debut. We’ve discussed Wilberforce (heh) being Mr. Fantastic (double-heh) and let’s see what else is going on. The young Prime Minister is played by Benedict Cumberbatch (pffffhahaha) who once played Stephen Hawking in a TV movie. Wilberforce eventually marries young Romola Garai (from Vanity Fair and Scoop). In the parliament we’ve got Michael Gambon as a good guy and a very familiar looking Ciaran Hinds and the dude from Infamous as bad guys, and off on his own is Wilberforce’s mentor, a cataract-ridden saintly monkly fella who used to own a slave ship, played by our Albert Finney. Oh wait, and Rufus Sewell plays a leftist with scarecrow-hair who pals around with N’Dour and tries to get Wilderforce to go abolish slavery, which he eventually does, the end.

A very bad script where everyone speaks only in cliches, from the writer of Dirty Pretty Things, which I’ll have to not see. I didn’t know much about Michael Apted before, and I’ll have to not find out more. I’d been trying to forget this, but Terrence Malick produced. There were seven producers, so it’s not a major blow.

Good performances and costume details ignored the silliness of the whole thing. It’s not the absence of black people that bugs me much, since after all, it’s a historical drama that takes place in british parliament. It’s just the extreme fakiness of it all, wilbur making himself physically sick and turning to god and admiring spiderwebs, the way-easy love affair, the bagpipe coda… but I mostly can’t get past the cornbread dialogue. It’s impossible to overstate this: every line is a cliche. IMDB shows that church groups have been getting prerelease screenings, and from the comments, they seem to be eating it up.

Joaquin “Lucius Hunt” Phoenix is a Johnny Cash impersonator and Reese “Tracy Flick” Witherspoon is this girl who likes him.

Plays like a bullet-point list of Cash’s early career turned into a movie. Right when I said “I thought “cry cry cry” was his first single, not the folsom song”, someone introduces Joaquin by saying “here’s johnny cash, whose new single ‘cry cry cry’ is burning up the charts” or some such thing. So a series of facts mixed with re-enactments of famous events and made-up scenes and dialogue = an uncomplicated biopic of a man whose complicated life deserved better.

Amusing cameos by a decent Jerry Lee Lewis, a totally unconvincing Elvis and a very convincing Waylon Jennings (played by Shooter Jennings). T-1000 plays the judgemental father, and Madge from Prophecy III: The Ascent plays music legend Mother Maybelle Carter, the whole thing lovingly assembled by the esteemed director of Kate & Leopold. Five oscar nominations and three golden globes don’t lie! This is a class act.

Katy loves it.