September 4, 2007

Venice + Telluride. I'm Not There.

"What's so unique about I'm Not There is that it is able to celebrate the work without sentimentally idealizing the person of Dylan," writes Larry Gross at Thompson on Hollywood. "It's a staggeringly original film. Literally, not like anything you've seen before - though Superstar, Velvet Goldmine, and even some aspects of Safe can be seen as warm-ups for what's accomplished here. [Todd] Haynes mimics, comments on, and mixes 60s cinematic and cultural styles in a dazzlingly intricate way - the film's as much a dialogue with Godard's 60s masterpieces as Dylan's."

I'm Not There

"Haynes directs all of these people and places with great flair, helped immensely by cinematographer Edward Lachman and his mostly inspired cast," writes Ray Bennett in the Hollywood Reporter. "The star of the show is undoubtedly Blanchett, who has great fun playing Dylan as a showboat who quite knowingly goes about creating his reputation for rebellious independence.... The film is said to have the endorsement of Dylan, which must have taken some courage given the ragged edges of his life on display. But the film fits well with his singular ability to reinvent himself while really putting us nowhere nearer to fully understanding the man."

Updated through 9/10.

"[T]the film is just holding up mirrors and sums up Dylan by a series of life changes, when in fact the man and the singer have gone much further," writes Emmanuel Burdeau in Cahiers du cinéma's Venice diary.

Earlier first impressions and reports from Telluride: Kevin Buist (SpoutBlog, plus an interview with Haynes), clarencecarter (Reverse Shot), Eugene Hernandez (indieWIRE), Mike Jones (Variety's Circuit), David Poland (Movie City News) and Chris Willman (Entertainment Weekly).

Updates, 9/5: "I'm Not There resembles a film a precocious grad student in musicology might make about a creative hero," writes Variety's Todd McCarthy, for whom the film "lacks a narrative and a center, much like the 'ghost' at its core.... Some of Haynes' most daring ideas - such as having the youthful, Woody Guthrie-idolizing Dylan portrayed by an 11-year-old black boy, and expressing the impact of the Dylan-goes-electric Newport concert by having the singer and his band literally machine-gun the folky audience - come off surprisingly well, and the general let's-try-this approach is broached in such a genial manner that it encourages the viewer to abandon any preconceptions and follow where Haynes leads."

And as noted above, Larry Gross's Film Comment piece is online.

"Critics in Venice have been astonished by [Cate] Blanchett's performance," writes Rachel Williams in the Guardian, who goes on to quote Richard Gere - and Todd Haynes: "Cate was scared; she told me many times that this was a very scary challenge for her. It took her a long time to commit to it... I told her it's good to be terrified, that you're taking a risk and sometimes that's really when the surprises happen. I guess it at least convinced her to give it a shot."

"[F]or those of us who love Dylan from afar (easily the best vantage point) this is a wild, joyous, exhilarating roller-coaster ride of a movie," writes the Telegraph's David Gritten. "It ties up no loose ends, but lets him stand as a brilliant, evasive enigma. I cannot say I understand Dylan one bit better - and there's no higher praise for the film than that."

"Haynes's own advice at the Venice film festival press conference is that you should 'let the film wash over you like a dream,'" notes Lee Marshall in Screen Daily. "That's disingenuous though: few viewers will come to I'm Not There (the title of a little-known Dylan song) with no knowledge of the subject, and the film is at its most illuminating, paradoxically, when it's at its least dreamlike.... But in the end, two things almost justify I'm Not There's overlong running time, at least for cinema and music buffs. The first is the fascination that lies in comparing and contrasting six fine actors' takes on Dylan. The second is the music."

Update, 9/10: "The film knows when it's funny, which saves it from reverence," writes Nigel Andrews in the Financial Times.

Covering the coverage: Venice 07. Index.

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Posted by dwhudson at September 4, 2007 8:34 AM