WYSHW: I’m Not There

In case you are unfamiliar with the legendary artist formerly known as Robert Zimmerman, I would suggest you take a good day to discover all that you’ve been missing out on. It’s okay, I can wait – because if you have no knowledge of the man’s life and career, this film is practically inaccessible. Now, if you think Bob Dylan’s one of the worst song writers of all time, you can see your way out.

Unlike with Howl, it helps to know a bit about Bob Dylan before diving into this layered collage of a “bio-flick.” Not only does I’m Not There undertake multiple depictions of Dylan’s actual life, but also depicts his figurative personas and influences in a unique fashion. It also helps that none of these characters are referred to as “Bob Dylan.”

there

I’m Not There is a different kind of non-linear story, considering it shows the many faces of one person, which is not to say that Dylan himself had anything to do with this film, because he didn’t. In fact, I think the charm of this feature is that it follows an icon of many musical movements, and each character takes on a given persona:

Woody Gunthrie (Marcus Carl Franklin, the child) is Dylan’s displaced musical beginnings (an anachronic “imposter”); Arthur (Ben Whishaw) is the interrogated poet; Robbie (Ledger) is the superstar who struggles with his family life; Jack (Bale) is the documented folk singer turned born-again Christian; Billy the Kid (Gere) is the mythic wanderer and outlaw; finally, Jude (Blanchett) is our surreal musician – the closest to matching the perceived 60’s Dylan, played with both delicacy and ferocity.

Sorry Franco, David Cross is the best Ginsberg.

Sorry Franco, David Cross is the best Ginsberg.

Though I’m Not There can easily be dubbed as a pretentious mess, I beg to differ. Okay, so maybe I have my Dylan goggles on, big deal. This aside, I can’t get over this intertwining construct – it’s just full circles upon full circles with amazing musical intervals. Another bias: I really love intertwining nonlinear stories. This aside, I’m Not There beautifully depicts each era almost as a genre of its own design.

So yes, it does help to know a thing or two about Bob Dylan, but I guess you could easily enjoy this film as perhaps a schizophrenic portrait of the everyman, caught in the midsts of his desires and obligations. As well as the occasional trip with Allen Ginsberg.

If you dig on Dylan, I’m Not There is a prime choice. Or if you’d rather have some colorful background noise with some choice covers, that works too. It’s a win-win.

Next time on What You Should Have Watched, let’s talk about that fat Kev Smith.

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About reelgirl

Film lover, kitsch enthusiast, and all around neat gal. You can read what I'm up to at Reel Girl Reviews!

Posted on October 19, 2013, in Feature, What You Should Have Watched and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Another one for your should-watch list: Wake In Fright.

    • This is such a marvelous list!

      The Iceman (RedBox)
      Callan
      Upstream Color (Netflix)
      White Reindeer
      Inside A Glass Cage
      Coward’s Bend
      Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist
      Wake In Fright

      …Am I missing any?

  2. The Deep, and Mad Max 2 – released in the US as The Road Warrior.

    • We can check off Road Warrior (though I’d love to watch it again – haven’t seen it in years…I’m amazed I don’t own it) – now are you talking about The Deep 1977 or 2012?

  3. And I didn’t realise you were taking notes… I’d better give you some time to watch a few before I suggest any more!

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