Saturday, November 24, 2007

Todd Haynes' "I'm Not There"

Todd Haynes' Dylan-driven "I'm Not There" reinvents the Hollywood biopic, turning it inside-out and on its head with such dexterity, that only a nostalgic sentimentalist would still be able to get excited over "Ray," "I Walk the Line" and their ilk. Haynes essentially pulls the beloved genre kicking and screaming out of the 1950s and into the new millenium. Actually, Haynes plays with a lot of genres here, as well as chronology, as he charts Bob Dylan's journey as an artist, his influence on the pop/folk music scene and, in turn, the various influences on him. Much has been made about the fact that Haynes uses multiple actors to play the various sides of Dylan (nothing new as Todd Solandz did the exact same thing in "Palindromes" just a few years ago) and that a woman, Cate Blanchett, plays one of Dylan's sides. Blanchett is good here, but isn't she always? No, the real stand out in "I'm Not There" is the prescient kid actor Marcus Carl Franklin who essentially plays Dylan as a child Woody Guthrie.

(Artwork: The poster for Todd Haynes' Dylan biopic, "I'm Not There")

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jbryant said...

Franklin and Blanchett just picked up Indie Spirit nominations for this. As a fan of Haynes' "Safe" and "Far from Heaven," I'm interested. Though I enjoyed the admittedly formulaic "Ray" and "Walk the Line," I agree the genre can use a little experimentation.

As for Blanchett always being good, I'm not sure. I was a fan early on ("Oscar and Lucinda"), but I'm on the fence about her Katharine Hepburn in "The Aviator." It's a thankless task, really, to play a woman whose face, voice and screen persona are so famous. Blanchett technically gets it "right," but the script's conception of Hepburn is so tied in to her public image, it's distracting -- even if it's true to Hepburn's real-life persona. Seeing Blanchett play the "Don't Look Back"-era Dylan should be fascinating, to say the least.

joe baltake said...

I agree wholeheartedly with you about Blanchett in "The Aviator." I really dislike "impersonations," which such roles unfortunately demand. I think that's my least favorite Cate Blanchett performance.