|I'm Not There
Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Heath Ledger, Richard Gere, Julianne Moore, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Michelle Williams, Ben Wishaw, Bruce Greenwood, Marcus Carl Franklin
The surreal Bob Dylan tribute/biopic "I'm Not There" is a trip and a half, with multiple actors playing different elements of the American folk-rock icon's personality during different stages of his life. It's interesting to note that filmmaker Todd Haynes, who wrote the screenplay and directed, chose stars associated with the characters of Batman (Christian Bale), the Joker (Heath Ledger) and Queen Elizabeth I (Cate Blanchett) to help portray Dylan in "I'm Not There."
No one ever said that the Bard of Hibbing wasn't a complex individual. The movie, with its non-linear approach to its subject, will certainly stimulate debate. There's a lot of great music, including stuff by Dylan himself (although he only appears very, very briefly in a morsel of archival footage at the end), as well as covers of some of his songs by the likes of Eddie Vedder ("All Along the Watchtower") and Stephen Malkmus ("Ballad of a Thin Man") with the high-end pick-up band the Million Dollar Bashers (featuring Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo and drummer Steve Shelley, Wilco guitarist Nels Cline, Television guitarist Tom Verlaine, bassist Tony Garnier, guitarist Smokey Hormel and keyboardist John Medeski). Plus, the soundtrack offers provocative selections from John Doe, Yo La Tengo, Richie Havens, Sonic Youth and Antony & the Johnsons, among others.
Self-indulgent? Yes. Audacious? You bet. And finely wrought, well acted, and beautifully shot. Worthwhile for music lovers and those interested in the socio-political tides of the late 20th century? Absolutely. Potentially infuriating to Dylan's most fervent fans? That's a given. Nonetheless, heartily recommended.