Sunday, December 30, 2007

Screening Log. I'm Not There.

I'm Not There. (Todd Haynes) (2007)

Please pardon the following pretentious statement, but I feel like I finally understand how to watch a Todd Haynes film. I have never known exactly how to take them. I've always wondered how serious, how campy, how overly dramatic, how farcical, how "arty" (etc.) they are intended to be, and I guess I still don't exactly know because his movies are set on both utilizing and defying every category that can be thrown at them. Now I don't mean to overpraise (because I enjoy his innovations more than I enjoy his films), but he makes films that can be as much fun as one allows them to be and, for me, I'm Not There was a whole lot of fun.

I'm Not There improves on Haynes' earlier deconstruction of the "biopic" in Velvet Goldmine, and to a lesser degree Superstar. The constant, and often obscure, references (my favorite one being "See you later, Allen Ginsberg") kept me busy with just the language and look of the film, and there is clearly much more to be absorbed in future viewings. Yes parts of the film are annoying (the first few scenes with Marcus Carl Franklin as "Woody Guthrie") and others can be far too literal, or just seem out of place (Christian Dylan), but what an unique and refreshing film (especially in today's film world of mediocre formulaic biopics that are more prolonged impersonations than films with something to say or demonstrate; ie Ray, Walk the Line, Dreamgirls). I'm Not There is an extraordinary experience of evasiveness that demonstrates the act as much as it's character(s) or title.

EDIT: Two more things that I feel like praising: 1. casting David Cross as Allen Ginsberg, 2. most of the cover songs in the film, particularly Jim James and Calexico's version of "Going To Acapulco"...which can be downloaded here [link] (mp3 @ 320 kbps).

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