Apologies for the lack of image. Our friends at the Weinstein Company make it just difficult enough for an independent writer to access their promotional materials -- the "Contact" link doesn't work unless you're already registered with them! -- that I'm simply not going to bother (even though, of course, a Google Images search will net you hundreds of images from other websites. But fuck'em: if they'll give me nothing I can legitimately access -- the I'm Not There site also has no free downloads -- then I'll restrict myself to text). It's kind of silly to be such control freaks about a few measly stills, since they can only serve to generate excitement - but then again, at the preview screening I went to tonight, audience members had to leave their cell phones and laptops in baggies with the security dudes out front before being allowed to access the auditorium, which hardly generates a mood of fun, either. (Anyone entering the preview with the intent to pirate the film, of course, could easily have done so, since we weren't patted down or strip searched or such, nor were we visibly observed during the screening. It makes for a bizarre token gesture of control, sillier than it is offensive, inconveniencing the innocent and doubtlessly only amusing the guilty -- ultimately nothin' more than a tight-assed reminder that the Weinsteins are above us on the food chain. Kinda makes you wish someone DID sneak in a recording device, actually... no doubt there are pirated versions of the film floating freely out there as I type.)
Weinstein and security aside, I quite liked I'm Not There. I'm kind of relieved to allow the distributor's general mood of spoilsportism to dissuade me from writing at length, because the film is huge, complex, and sprawling, and frankly too much for my mirror at the moment, anyhow. There are moments of great beauty and poetry, as chaotic and confusing and compelling and arguably profound as Dylan's most obscure verse, and it will do wonders for Todd Haynes' profile in America (and Cate Blanchett's, since she's astonishingly good); but I challenge ANYONE to put it all in perspective (while saying anything that isn't rather obvious) after just one screening. I do have a few reservations -- I always think it's a sign of a lazy viewer when someone says a movie is too long, but I peaked well-before the two hour mark and just felt exhausted and drained by the time the film reached it's 135th minute; maybe I just wasn't prepared for such a feast -- if I'd done something to enhance my perceptual appetite before the film started, f'rinstance, I might've felt more enlivened by the time it ended. It didn't help, either, that my enthusiasm for Dylan has waned in recent years; if I'd seen this back when Dylan was a staple of my musical consumption, I'd no doubt be raving, now.
Still: good film, recommended. One thumb up, unless I'm supposed to raise both of them. With the premise of the film - having a variety of different actors play Dylan -- I was worried that I'd end up feeling like I'd been subjected to inconclusive, incoherent gimmickry-for-it's-own-sake, as with Todd Solondz's abortion film, but instead, my admiration for Todd Haynes has grown considerably. This is a helluva piece of film.
One thing: it helps if you KNOW a bit about Dylan - if you're savvy enough to pick out the nod to Harry Smith in the first ten minutes or so, or at least to realize that Julianne Moore is playing Joan Baez, you'll do fine. Don't Look Now and Scorsese's doc will serve as adequate cheat-notes, if consumed beforehand. (Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid would be a good thing to be familiar with, too, for the Richard Gere segments). I'm not sure that people can "get" the film without some background.
Oh, and: stick around to hear the Sonic Youth song (covering Dylan, of course) over the end credits; it's great.