October 6, 2007

NYFF podcast. I'm Not There.

In this podcast from the New York Film Festival, Andrew Grant and Aaron Hillis talk with Premiere's Glenn Kenny about Todd Haynes's I'm Not There (site). To download or listen, click here.

I'm Not There

"Haynes grapples directly with the charge often raised against the singer-songwriter, beginning with his legendary abandonment of Woody Guthrie-ish acoustic folk and the near-riot in Newport, Rhode Island," blogs David Edelstein. "It's a charge that's the subtext of Martin Scorsese's No Direction Home, voiced over and over by those who knew him when: that nothing in Dylan is organic, but rather based on a series of calculating poses. Haynes makes the case - obliquely - that this is the source of Dylan's genius." Related: The Vulture lists the "Ten Most Incomprehensible Bob Dylan Interviews of All Time."

Updated through 10/10.

"Trading so explicitly in ingenuity that it almost inverts itself into a jumble of navel lint (though belonging to whom is a good question), Todd Haynes's colorful I'm Not There is an exquisitely, almost self-consciously mature work," writes Michelle Orange at the Reeler. "[I]t certainly all worked in his head, and perhaps that means it will work in those of at least a few others - particularly those of dreamy Dylan-ographers. It just didn't work in mine."

"Haynes's quest is as fruitless as reporter Jerry Thompson's search for the truth about Charles Foster Kane - the mystery of this American Giant can't be solved by splintering him into its constituent parts," writes Jürgen Fauth. "Besides, the answer was there all along: like Kane's sled, Dylan's body of work contains everything we ever needed to know about the man."

"Todd Haynes's Dylan film isn't about Dylan," writes Robert Sullivan in a longish piece for the New York Times Magazine:

NYT Magazine: I'm Not There

That's what's going to be so difficult for people to understand. That's what's going to make I'm Not There so trying for the really diehard Dylanists. That's what might upset the non-Dylanists, who may find it hard to figure out why he bothered to make it at all. And that's why it took Haynes so long to get it made. Haynes was trying to make a Dylan film that is, instead, what Dylan is all about, as he sees it, which is changing, transforming, killing off one Dylan and moving to the next, shedding his artistic skin to stay alive. The twist is that to not be about Dylan can also be said to be true to the subject Dylan.

"I'm Not There's intricate form is at once too clever for its own good and yet not clever enough, a pretentious swirl of citations and homages that nonetheless habitually falls back on simplistic sonic and visual associations... in an attempt to locate the metamorphic spirit of its legendary subject," writes Nick Schager. "Bullet points are rampant... but no cohesive vision of Dylan the man ever emerges, the director's collage a self-satisfied dissertation in which organizational tomfoolery, tossed-off impersonations, and metaphoric winks to Dylan aficionados prove meager vehicles for piercing inquiry."

Also at Slant, Ed Gonzalez on The Other Side of the Mirror: Bob Dylan Live at the Newport Folk Festival, 1963 - 65: "After the excruciating semiotics lecture of I'm Not There, a straight-up concert doc featuring the real Bob Dylan - with special appearances by Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, Peter, Paul and Mary, Pete Seeger, the Freedom Singers, and Peter Yarrow - is a necessary palette cleanser."

"Given that most of the storylines refer only obliquely to periods and themes in Dylan's life, non-Dylan devotees may sometimes feel like they're watching a French sitcom in a room full of chuckling Francophones with only a few years of high school Spanish with which to decipher what's going on," finds Alison Willmore at the IFC Blog. "Still, for the most part, I'm Not There is just fine, an uneven, ambitious, flawed attempt at circumventing all of the conventions of putting someone's life onto the screen."

Eric Kohn talks with Haynes for the Reeler. Speaking of which, for ST VanAirsdale, who's got notes from the press conference, the film "delivers a concentrated rush of awe that ultimately succumbs to the hangover of rationality." Karina Longworth has audio from that press conference - 28 minutes' worth - at the SpoutBlog.

The Film Panel Notetaker attended the Q&A that followed Thursday night's screening of I'm Not There.

Time Out lists the "50 greatest music films ever." #1: Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story. #2: Don't Look Back. Via Movie City News.

Rachel Abramowitz profiles Cate Blanchett for the Los Angeles Times.

Earlier: Reviews from Venice and Telluride and Toronto and NYFF.

Updates, 10/8: Online viewing tip. Jürgen Fauth has video from the press conference with Haynes, moderated by J Hoberman.

"As much as it's not necessary to possess a true familiarity with Dylan's canon to find enjoyment in I'm Not There (folks read Ulysses pleasurably without annotated guides all the time - a mixture of accessibility and unfolding density is the mark of a great work of art), I can only begin to imagine the riches that open up with a better grasp on the man's life and music," writes Jeff Reichert at Reverse Shot. "Even so, in the face of such astounding intellect, the overwhelming sense is not of weight or seriousness of purpose, but of pure pleasure. I'm Not There is a blast, and after exiting, I instantly wanted to watch it again. This is the film Todd Haynes, always preternaturally talented, but chilly and precious at times, has been waiting to make. As much a summation of its director's chameleonic cinematic abilities as it is a portrait of Bob Dylan, I'm Not There comfortably ranks amongst the best American films of the decade."

Update, 10/9: Acquarello finds the film "audacious and ingeniously conceived, if overlong and diluted.... Haynes creates an initially cohesive portrait of the artist as a young man that ultimately unravels under the weight of increasingly indulgent and only marginally connected vignettes."

Update, 10/10: "I'm sorry. Did I say I wasn't obsessed? Maybe I'm just obsessed with this movie." Jim Emerson's been collecting notes.

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Posted by dwhudson at October 6, 2007 4:22 PM