Better than Hugo from the same author, which was also a Christmas-release historical city-roaming kids’ adventure by a sometimes-favorite filmmaker. Ben, a 1970’s boy suffering recent hearing loss, runs away to New York, meeting a friend named Jamie and hiding out in museums. This is cut with scenes of 1920’s Rose (the magnificent Millicent Simmonds) in a similar situation, visiting some of the same spots. As soon as Ben meets up with grown Rose (Julianne Moore) the fun back-and-forth editing games end, and we’re caught up on the fifty intervening years through long exposition scenes, a shame. I also thought Personal Shopper did a better job dramatizing onscreen text (Ben and Grown Rose have to speak via notepad), but overall this was charming.

I knew this was based on a Patricia Highsmith story, but when I saw the opening scene I thought “oh no, is this a remake of Brief Encounter?” Fortunately it goes in a different direction pretty quickly, and while Brief Encounter may have a perfect ending for the 1940’s, Carol has the perfect ending for right now.

Carol (Cate Blanchett) is the interesting rich lady who makes eyes at young department store cashier Therese (Rooney Mara) one Christmas shopping season, and eventually they’re in love, vacationing across the country, not realizing they’re being pursued by private investigators hired by Carol’s husband Kyle Chandler. Not much to say about the movie, plot-wise, since it’s all about perfectly chosen moments and a beautiful visual atmosphere.

F. Zaman in Reverse Shot:

It doesn’t engage with questions of why or how its protagonists are gay, or create simplistic dynamics between homophobic villains and damaged queer heroes. It lets the characters just be, as they are, a defiant act of passive resistance against the assumption that queerness needs to be justified – and that it is the primary quality of the queer person. Just as Haynes is reinvigorating the melodrama genre in films like Carol, Far from Heaven, and even Velvet Goldmine, he is also reframing history to include others — people of color, counterculture figures, queers — in a meaningful way. Carol is also full of visceral pleasures, capturing subjective but universal experiences, like the way the world seems to blur when that certain someone touches your wrist for first time.

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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