Monday, 14 July 2008

I'm Not There (2007)

This one had the stink of a wankfest from Day One. Fifteen minutes in, I turned it off, my sense of smell proven still sharp, and I think only the music got me that far in. Collecting a bunch of tinny aphorisms and cheeseball film school tricks does not actually add up to a worthy tribute to Bob Dylan, his songs or his life. Whatever potential surreal poetry might have been had in Todd Haynes' stupid idea of having umpteen actors play Dylan is completely lost in witless direction that had me bored at hello. A clodhopping screenplay, which seems to have been written by clipping out the least interesting parts of His Bobness' liner notes and pasting them into a bad newspaper essay on the Pop Culture Impact of Bob Dylan. No wonder the mainstream press lapped it up when they threw away Dylan's own restless, interesting, and genuinely feverish Masked and Anonymous. Haynes has long been near the top of my list of incredibly overrated critics' pets, and now he takes the crown. Factory Girl was stupid, but at least it was modestly stupid.


Marilyn said...

Off and on, I have felt bad about missing this film, mainly because of the glowing reviews so many people have given it. I'm not even a little bit of a Dylan fan, but I did like Haynes' Safe and Far From Heaven, so I thought maybe I was missing something. But I, too, thought it had a foul smell about it just conceptually. Glad to see my instincts are still intact.

Roderick Heath said...

I mildly liked Velvet Goldmine, but I hated Safe which I found to be prtentious claptrap, and avoided Far From Heaven. I couldn't hack this one either, and I am a big bit Dylan fan.

Marilyn said...

I mildly liked Velvet Goldmine - didn't realize it was Haynes' work. As for Safe, being pretentious was actually part of the point. At the time, there were a lot of "gurus" preaching illness caused by negative self-image and cures for everything through positive thinking (Emile Coue back with a vengeance). This was particularly rampant in the AIDS healing community, which Haynes said he was trying to critique. I think the entire movie could be considered a metaphor for the AIDS epidemic (mysterious illness, blame the victim, isolate from society, they die anyway). You didn't think it worked, I guess, but I did.