I'M NOT THERE directed by Todd Haynes

Twenty minutes into this film, I was taking my hat off to Todd Haynes for breaking the curse of the stagnant rock biopic. Making an actor go through the paces as Jim Morrison, John Lennon, Ian Curtis, et al. gets to be a fucking bore, (although I'm still waiting for Tobey Maguire's take on G.G. Allin). I was marveling at the way Haynes' was able to just skewer the idea of the rock star myth, the album cover moment, the gossip, and the newsreel footage, put it in a goddamned blender and spin the motherfucker into a cinematic puree. And then about an hour and ten minutes into the film I was cursing Todd Haynes name, screaming “why?” It was like watching Velvet Goldmine again, only with a larger post-VH1 sledgehammer slamming me between the eyes. Oh God, make it fucking stop. Can you really make Bob Dylan more boring than he is in real life???

To be honest I actually find Dylan to be pretty interesting. I ate up that Scorsese documentary that came out a few years back, and Don't Look Back is one of the great awkward hipster documentaries of all time. But I really don't know why the fuck I would want to see Cate Blanchett, who I usually admire, do a recreation of the Dylan in Don't Look Back? I am starting to think that if the film were to edit out all of the Blanchett scenes, I might actually go back to thinking it was one of the greatest rock biopics I've ever seen. Maybe. No I take that Blanchett's mimicry may be a good example of thespian craft, but it's one grating fucking performance among many. Even the precocious little black kid got on my fucking nerves after a while.

The final hour of this film was excruciating. There may have been some huge Dylan cipher behind all the mopery, but I couldn't fucking care less to unwrap any of it. You know something's wrong, when you're getting up every three minutes absolutely sure this has to be the final godamned shot, but no the film has duped you, hah, sit your ass down for twenty more minutes of pretentious meditative noodling. Here's Richard Gere, no wait, here's some ponce quoting Rimbaud, oops, no, now it's an actor who played a Dylan type—what the fuck, it's really not that huge of a cultural deal. I'd rather watch outtakes of Sam Peckinpah pissing on a trailer than see any more of Heath Ledger and his drippy French wife agonize over something or other. I gotta say though: the film could've used more Christian Bale.

I think maybe Todd Haynes loves music, and he loves doing riffs on recent cultural movements. I can't deny there are moments of movie brilliance here, just as if you put a crowbar against my teeth I'd admit to moments of brilliance in Velvet Goldmine. I had the same reaction to this mess as I did to VG, there's a great half hour film in this 2-hour piece of shit. Remember Superstar, Todd? Well I sure as shit do. If you're going to tackle cultural movements stick with something like the gayness of Douglas Sirk, that shit ruled, this shit just stinks.

-David Roth


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