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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extras-Packed Collector's Edition!
Director Todd Haynes has reinvented the musician biopic by manipulating its conventions to suit its subject instead of the other way around which is what has always been done in the past. I'm Not There invites us into Bob Dylan's brain and has look at the world through his eyes. We also see how Dylan is perceived by the media and his fans. Because Haynes is pushing the...
Published on May 2, 2008 by Cubist

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Everywhere And Nowhere...
I have been a fan of Dylan for 40 years and while it is interesting to see some key moments of his biography reenacted...Newport switching from folf to rock, The UK Royal Albert Hall incident, visiting Guthrie in the hospital, truth be told the actors depicting the different sides/personalities were irritating, screeching,egoistic,childish and had nothing to do with this...
Published on July 3, 2008 by JG


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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extras-Packed Collector's Edition!, May 2, 2008
By 
Cubist (United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: I'm Not There (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) (DVD)
Director Todd Haynes has reinvented the musician biopic by manipulating its conventions to suit its subject instead of the other way around which is what has always been done in the past. I'm Not There invites us into Bob Dylan's brain and has look at the world through his eyes. We also see how Dylan is perceived by the media and his fans. Because Haynes is pushing the genre to its extremes the film is quite hard to follow at times as we jump all over the place in time and are confronted by various takes on Dylan. However, I think it is a film that will only improves on subsequent viewings as what Haynes is doing becomes more apparent and understood.

On the first disc there is "An Introduction" featuring four text essays that help one get a handle on the film. "Who's Not There: Six Faces of Dylan" explains who each of the six Dylans the actors are playing and what they represent. "Tangled Up in Clues" claims that Haynes' film is "an homage to 1960s art films." It does an excellent job of breaking the film down to its basic elements. "Decoding an Entertaining Enigma" examines each incarnation of Dylan in the film. "Notes on I'm Not There" is written by noted critic Greil Marcus and features a solid analysis of the film.

There is an audio commentary by co-writer/director Todd Haynes. He talks about how he rediscovered Bob Dylan's music and his life via biographies. Haynes talks about how he pitched the project to Dylan and how he was inspired by the cinema of the 1960s because that was the time period where most of the film was set. Haynes certainly knows his Dylan history and does a great job analyzing his film and talking about the changes he made while shooting it. This is an engaging and informative track.

There is also an option to have the lyrics to the songs that appear on-screen.

The second disc features two theatrical trailers and an unreleased flash card trailer done in the style of the famous "Subterranean Homesick Blues" video with the cast.

There are "Audition Tapes" for Marcus Carl Franklin and Ben Whishaw. They both do a good job embodying the character they would eventually play.

Also included are two deleted scenes with Blanchett as Dylan messed up on drugs and another with Gere as Dylan during his western phase.

There are four alternate/extended scenes that provide an interesting, different take on these scenes.

An "Outtakes" gag reel features the cast and crew goofing around.

"A Tribute to Heath Ledger" features a montage of clips of the late actor in character and on the set. It is a sobering reminder of what a great talent has been lost with his tragic death.

"The Red Carpet Premiere" in November 2007 features footage of Haynes and his cast walking the red carpet and interacting with the press.

"Making the Soundtrack" examines how they mixed covers of Dylan's songs with original versions by the man himself. Haynes enlisted Sonic Youth's Lee Ronaldo to supervise some of the music and musicians like John Doe recorded their versions of key songs in the film. Assembling the soundtrack was as unconventional as the film itself.

"Conversation with Todd Haynes" features the director going in detail about his film explaining the title, the origins of the project, and so on. It's a nice compliment to his commentary track even if there is some overlap.

"Dylanography" includes the one-page proposal Haynes sent Dylan in order to get his approval for the film. There is also a chronology of the musician's life, a discography of his extensive output, books he's written, pages from the director's notebook, and stills of the various characters.
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55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dylan Mosaic Blends and Clashes, December 25, 2007
After `Don't Look Back' and Martin Scorsese's `No Direction Home' Bob Dylan - No Direction Home what's left? With a subject as complex and multi-faceted as Dylan, it only makes sense to do more. Just look at Dylan's memoir/autobiography, `Chronicles'. We were given so much in Volume 1, but we know there's much more to come. And that's just from him. To capture all aspects of Dylan, there's `I'm Not There'. With portrayals by six actors, each representing an aspect of his life, we get a Dylan mosaic that both blends and clashes.

This is partly true because of Dylan himself, but it's also true because of the nature of the project. At its best the movie is an effectively surreal portraiture. At its worst it becomes a lingering still life that quickly needs the next piece in the gallery or provides some substandard reflections. More than half of the songs are Dylan's originals, but some of the covers are fairly effective, too. I was personally glad to have so many songs from his (subjectively greatest) masterpiece, ' Blonde on Blonde', but there is a wealth of material they use throughout. Their selection is nearly flawless.

One thing's for sure it's comprehensive. Having read the first `Chronicles,' having seen the aforementioned films, and owning several of his recordings, most of the time director, Todd Haynes, is right on the money. Not having read Dylan's own thoughts in 'Tarantula' or seen his portrayal in 'Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid' there are gaps that inevitably are provided for us. Still, the mosaic of Dylan effectiveness depends on the actor as well as the scene.

How does each actor do? Marcus Carl Franklin is Woody, the young, aspiring Dylan. It makes sense to have an African-American play the boy Dylan because in 'Chronicles' Chronicles: Volume One (Chronicles) his blues influences are amply noted, and we certainly know where the name came from. Remembering Robert Shelton's reflections of among his first interviews, I thought the circus vagabond aspect of his life was pure folklore, but maybe even that fits. Ben Whisham is Arthur Rimbaud, the rebel Dylan, facing a parole board before he's famous. So far it's a good blend.

Heath Ledger is Robbie Clark or Dylan, the lover and movie star. This is the Dylan whose underbelly is shown to be chauvinistic at times, but also someone who yearns for a stable family life. Picking Ledger makes sense. Christian Bale is sometimes the stage Dylan (Jack Rollins), and, well...sometimes the born-again Christian (Pastor John). Kate Blanchett is Jude Quinn, the incredulous rebel interviewee who refuses to be pigeon-holed or answer questions based on the elders' self-centered assumptions. Comparing 'Don't Look Back' Bob Dylan - Don't Look Back (Single Disc Remastered Edition) she's dead on. Both Jack Rollins and Jude Quinn represent the controversial period when Dylan went electric, and some of the best scenes are found during this era.

I came shocked and surprised coming into the movie noting there was a woman playing the part. I gave myself a pep talk to keep an open mind, and found her the most convincing Dylan. Ledger and Bale have their moments, but my biggest problem is that I kept thinking of Heath Ledger and Christian Bale more often than I thought of Dylan. Richard Gere plays the Dylan role in the movie `Pat Garrett...' Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (Two-Disc Special Edition). Here he's Billy the Kid. He looked like Dylan, but reminded me the least of him.

The supporting players are essential. Julianne Moore is one of the best in the show as Alice Fabian (Joan Baez). Matching her is Charlotte Gainsbourg as Claire (Sarah) his wife. The playful vignettes with The Beatles and Alan Ginsberg are a joy to watch. Dylan's manager, Morris Bernstein (Albert Grossman), is represented as every bit as protective, resourceful, and demanding as one would expect. One of the best scenes is with needling newspaper man, Keenan Jones (or "Mr. Jones" if you will) played by Bruce Greenwood.

This biopic blends more than not. Their methods seem better than the random hop-scotch 'La Vie en Rose (Extended Version)' tends to do. Especially when we're at a chic cocktail party, and we see all kinds of images projected fully on the walls; it's very well done. Jerry Rabinowicz's editing does much for the flow of scenes, except when the 'Pat Garrett' scenes lingered too long, and when the criss-cross of time frames and aspects of his life were distracting and lacked focus.

Despite its flaws, 'I'm Not There' is a brave and magnetic portraiture of Bob Dylan. As a bold experiment it mostly succeeds and satisfies. The very fact that the 2:15 movie makes as few demands as it does on its audience shows that the results are a labor of love that mostly ring true.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, but only for a very particular group of people., December 23, 2008
This review is from: I'm Not There (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) (DVD)
I adored this film. It is more like a puzzle or mosaic than a story, but it comes closer than anything yet to painting a good picture of such an interesting man.

This film is nonlinear and abstract - people who like a concise, plot based story are not going to like it. People who don't know or care much about Dylan's career probably won't get much out of it.

But for those of us who are diehard Dylan fans and enthusiasts, it is a very rewarding experience. You will recognize particular scenes and shots. You will marvel at how many known aspects of the man are shown.

I recommend this film, but only to diehard Dylan fans and fans of nonlinear storytelling.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Everywhere And Nowhere..., July 3, 2008
By 
JG "jg" (New York United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: I'm Not There (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) (DVD)
I have been a fan of Dylan for 40 years and while it is interesting to see some key moments of his biography reenacted...Newport switching from folf to rock, The UK Royal Albert Hall incident, visiting Guthrie in the hospital, truth be told the actors depicting the different sides/personalities were irritating, screeching,egoistic,childish and had nothing to do with this mercurial, enigmatic icon, The REAL Dylan is best captured in Scorsese's " No Direction Home" and "Don't Look Back" another good one.

The Cowboy Junkies did a song "Cheap is How I Feel" and that is why this movie disappoints.. calling Dylan Edelstein, his roving with Ginsburg, his vomiting, come on....taking well known aspects of the picture and highlighting them for consumerism is not the real Dylan in my minds eye.Dylan is complicated stuff and this movie sure isn't despite the occasional wisdom lines.
Seeing a young conning hustling Black Dylan, a spaced out mercurial Dylan, An old drifter, recluse etc. is one mans image of Dylan..the pictures that come to my mind is very different..I don't think the portrayal can be captured effectively and one is left with a jumble..Yes, the best line in the movie is at the end "living with past,present future,
in the same room" and that is why I'm Not There is neither here or there and to quote from an album title "Time Out Of Mind"..his later life neglected in the movie.

Where is Dylan the mystic?? The man standing in Jerusalem not as a convert to Christianity BUT as a man grappling with his contradictions?
Where is Johnny Cash, the Gypsy Dylan of Rolling Thunder despite the paint mask of "Going To Acapulco", somehow I feel all these juxtapositions were not handled correctly despite the idea that the movie captures an elusive character that was probably the intention at the outset..too much was left out and to think that you can classify and break down a complex personality into periods or different personalities is where the movie fails despite it's cuteness on making the film a creation for the mass market and youth who are better served going back and listening to The Basement Tapes, Blonde On Blonde, New Morning on their own..
I highly doubt Dylan approved of this movie although it is cute seeing The Tarantula image and is entertaining despite some of the annoying actors portraying Bob..but again Dylan as some crazed marriage breaker of 2 daughters..the facts make it appear that the movie is almost a total fiction to the man himself.
Entertaining but I think it is better to see Scorsese and draw your own images by listening to his music on your own.
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Successful Exploration and Cinematic Investigation of an Artist, May 7, 2008
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This review is from: I'm Not There (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) (DVD)
I'M NOT THERE is clearly not a movie for everyone. The concept of the film is experimental, the execution of the 'documentary' is actually an amalgam of the aura and influence of one man in the music world instead of a linear history of a famous singer/poet, and the goal seems more to find the effect of Bob Dylan's chameleon persona on those people with whom he came into contact than it is to relate the story of a fascinating and important American artist.

Writer (with Oren Moverman) and Director Todd Haynes ('Far from Heaven', 'Velvet Goldmine') has gathered images, memorabilia, fragments of interviews, and responses from acquaintances and from these he has pieced together a quilt-like panorama of the enigmatic, elusive, ever-changing Bob Dylan. The result is not meant to be a precise history, but instead a 'feeling' for the man who so profoundly influenced American music in the 1960s. Haynes selected several top actors to inhabit various aspects of Dylan's life and times. The Narrator for this both black and white and color film is symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud (Ben Winshaw) who through a series of comments opens the vignettes that reflect Dylan. Eleven-year-old Marcus Carl Franklin radiates the energy of Woody Guthrie when he is suggesting the early formative influences of Dylan. Christian Bale becomes 'Jack Rollins', among the closest of the actors to impersonate the performing Dylan. Heath Ledger embodies the love-life side of Dylan's character with the Claire of Charlotte Gainsbourg while Cate Blanchett comes closest to showing us the inverted personality as Jude Quinn - the name assigned to the character who most resemble Dylan's appearance and talk and physical reactions to the public, the press, and the audience. And as an homage to Dylan's preoccupation with history, the final version of Dylan becomes Billy the Kid (Richard Gere) in the surreal town of Riddle. Other important characters pass through this musical mélange - Julianne Moore comments as Alice Fabian, a Joan Baez-type figure, Michelle Williams becomes Coco for a moment, and Bruce Greenwood has double roles suggesting influences from the height of Dylan's career to his old age.

Throughout the film the music of Bob Dylan pervades the soundtrack, the tunes as important as the timely poetry of his lyrical output. The film is as strange as the man who inspired it, and Todd Haynes and his amazing cast of actors give us an impressive slice of our history as well as an appreciation of the aura of the strangely haunting Bob Dylan. In extended featurettes on the CD the director and cast give wonderful insights both into the character of Dylan as well as the concept of creating this amazing film. For some, watching these introductions BEFORE watching the actual movie may enhance appreciation of this art piece. Highly recommended - but the audience must understand this is not a routine movie! Grady Harp, May 08
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm Not There is Where It's At, June 4, 2008
By 
Jimmy Mcgraw (Orange, California USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: I'm Not There (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) (DVD)
While most bio-pics glorify or vilify the subject and play fast and loose with the truth, this movie mocks the glorification, the vilification, the truth, the myth - everything surrounding this icon of popular culture. It does this so aptly with the ultimate TRUTH of any artist - his art. the songs are such a strong vehicle for character, story, tone, transition, subplot - all of it. It is the strength of the movie and underscores the power of this amazing artist. While you may not leave this movie knowing any more about Bob Dylan, you will have been taken on an incredible ride. As Dylan is an acquired taste for most, so is this movie. I highly recommend.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars vivid and imaginative, July 13, 2008
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This review is from: I'm Not There (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) (DVD)
In making a movie about the legendary musician/songwriter/poet/social activist Bob Dylan, filmmaker Todd Haynes could have hired a single actor to impersonate his subject and then related the key events of his life in standard chronological order. But Haynes clearly had something deeper and more complex in mind when he envisioned this work. The result, "I'm Not There," is a boldly original movie that is part truth and part deliberate fiction, part straight-forward narrative and part pseudo-documentary, part stark realism and part surrealistic fantasy. And while all of the elements don't work equally well together, the movie as a whole still provides a fascinating portrait of one of the key artists and musicians of the second half of the 20th Century.

Haynes breaks one of the cardinal rules of biographical storytelling right off the bat by having no fewer than six actors - Cate Blanchett, Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, Richard Gere, Ben Whishaw and Marcus Carl Franklin - portray Dylan at various stages of his career and life. And, in an act of even greater audaciousness, he has assigned each of these roles a different fictitious name (and it isn`t because Haynes feared he might be sued for his efforts since Dylan himself okayed the movie). Haynes, with the assistance of co-writer Oren Moverman, then arranges the various pieces into a time-shifting mosaic that allows us to see Dylan at all those discrete moments in his life virtually simultaneously. Finally, he incorporates many of Dylan's songs on the soundtrack to serve as a sort of running commentary on both the character and the times in which he`s living.

Haynes makes it clear that Dylan was as much a product of those times as he was a shaper of them. The film shows us his early days as an idealistic young singer/songwriter (here named Woody after Dylan's boyhood hero and role model Woody Guthrie), who has just escaped from a juvenile detention facility and is now riding the boxcars, his guitar in hand, strumming out protest songs in defense of the underprivileged and working classes. We then follow Dylan through the various stages of his life: first, as Jack (Bale), a rising young folk singer in Greenwich Village; then as Jude (Blanchett) an anti-establishment pop culture hero, singing and speaking out against social injustice and the Vietnam War; later (still as Jude), as a press-hounded "celebrity" often denounced as a "sellout" for adopting the very elitist lifestyle he'd earlier railed against in his works. The roles assigned to Ledger and Gere provide even more radically oblique takes on the Dylan persona. Ledger plays Robbie, a Hollywood actor who's portraying Jack (i.e. Dylan) in a film on his life, while Gere represents an aging version of Dylan, envisioned here as Billy the Kid, living in the wild west and taking on the legendary Pat Garrett in an effort to save a small town from being subsumed by an evil corporation (this is definitely the most "out there" of all the storylines in the film and, without a doubt, the least compelling and effective).

Of the actors, Blanchett gets to play Dylan at what is probably the juiciest and most provocative period of his life (at least from a character standpoint), the time when he alienated many of his earliest fans by "reinventing himself" as it were - turning away from traditional folk music in favor of a much edgier rock'n'roll sound, and transforming his own image from that of a jeans-wearing man of the people to that of a sunglasses-sporting, Carnaby-clad - and now quite remarkably cynical - pop culture celebrity. Blanchett`s vivid performance captures the tormenting self-doubt of a man caught between being a "spokesman" for a social movement and a simple human being trying to survive in the very world he's being called upon to denounce. The movie raises the question of whether it is ever possible for an artist to remain a social iconoclast after he has attained the level of a cultural icon - with all the attendant compromise that comes with such a status.

Next to Blanchett, Ledger gives what is probably the most fully-rounded performance in the film, fleshing out the domestic side of the public figure in his thoughtful portrayal of Dylan as husband and father.

Haynes' eclecticism involves the mixing together of not only various time periods but of wildly varying filmmaking styles as well. For instance, some of the stories are shot in black-and-white while others are done in color, just as he uses a traditional narrative technique in some sequences yet documentary-style reportage in others.

The film does suffer from a number of serious, though nowhere near fatal, flaws. As noted earlier, the Richard Gere section comes across as too arbitrary and tacked-on to feel fully a part of the rest of the film. And the movie does run on a trifle longer than it needs to in order to make its point. Moreover, the overly objectified style of the movie, impressive as it is, nevertheless, has the perhaps inevitable effect of distancing us so much from the subject matter that the heart, as opposed to the head, is never really fully engaged in what it is showing us.

Still, for the sheer unadulterated love Haynes demonstrates for his medium and the insight the movie offers into a beloved cultural icon, "I'm Not There" is a work very much worth savoring, faults and all.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Brilliant!, May 25, 2011
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This review is from: I'm Not There (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) (DVD)
I watched this movie a second time, yesterday, on the occasion of Bob Dylan's 70th birthday. It was on this second watching that I realized the true beauty of this film.

I'm Not There is a film about Bob Dylan as Apocalypse Now! is a film about Vietnam. Both films captured the truly surrealistic essence of their subject. The latter captured the surreal lunacy of the Vietnan War while the latter captured the surreal chameleon we know as Dod Dylan. The director was right on point in having different actors portray Dylan at the different phases of his life. THere is some poetic justice at having an Afro-American portray Dylan as a child. Both must have been and felt similarly dispossessed. There is a similar appropriateness of having Kate Blanchet portray the 1966 Dylan. The "real" Dylan was certainly a waif-like shell of a person, exhausted and spent from years of demands from his fans of what they thought he was and what they thought he represented. Dylan was simply Dylan,unable to articulate the reasons behind his persona because he simply experienced and followed his muse, not asking the reasons why he was the mouthpiece for that muse.

The movie also accurately portrayed the 60s in general, when the clash of cultures first manifested and reared its ugly head. Those were surrealistic times as well.

It will take a number of years before the film receives wide acceptance and not be relegated to a cult film.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Confusing and boring - a brave failure from Todd Haynes, September 25, 2008
This review is from: I'm Not There (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) (DVD)
"I'm Not There" is a brave attempt to capture the essence of the enigma that is Bob Dylan. Director Todd Haynes goes out on a limb with some artsy manouvers: firstly, a whole series of actors depict different sides of Dylan's personality, secondly a lot of the biographical information is skewed or simply made-up, and thirdly the film consists of a number of vignettes based on actual performances and interviews rather than telling a story. Sadly the film is a failure. The multiple actors are off-putting, the fictional elements are confusing, and without any narrative thrust the whole thing soon becomes very boring. The liberal use of Bob Dylan's music is the only thing that redeems it. Better to watch Scorsese's documentary "No Direction Home" if you want to get closer to Dylan.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent film from Todd Haynes, November 30, 2008
This review is from: I'm Not There (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) (DVD)
I knew nothing about Bob Dylan going in to this film. I don't particularly like the songs of Bob Dylan, save for a few of them. However, this film has encouraged me to explore more of his music, and I even did a little research after the film ended. This film basically explores Bob Dylan at different phases of his life, with a different actor for each segment, including Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, Richard Gere, and Cate Blanchett. Yes, you read that correctly, and she is magnificent!

There is a dream-like, poetic quality to this film that I thought was incredibly effective, and the direction is amazing. It is also very symbolic. There were things in the film that I didn't quite grasp upon my first viewing, probably because I don't have a vast knowledge of the work of it's subject. I plan on watching this film several more times, because I'll learn something new every time I see it.

If you haven't seen it, or even if you're not a fan of Dylan, check it out. It's pretty amazing, and I loved it.
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