I purposefully waited a long time to see I’m Not There because of Heath Ledger. When he died, there were just a handful of his movies I hadn’t seen already, including I’m Not There, and I’ve mostly kept it that way so that there are always movies of his that are new to me. This is flawed logic, and eventually it’ll end, but his death hit me hard and this was a way of dealing with it.
But whoa, am I glad that I waited to see I’m Not There until after No Direction Home. Before the documentary, I really knew next to nothing about Bob Dylan’s career as a whole. I think it would be difficult to get through I’m Not There without knowing anything about Bob Dylan. I’m Not There is going to be fractured and experimental no matter how much you know about Bob Dylan, but having some kind of background definitely gives it a bigger impact.
I’m Not There is really unlike any other movie I’ve seen; it follows interpretations of different stages of Bob Dylan’s life and career, all with different actors playing different characters that aren’t Bob Dylan but are representations of him. The most striking was Cate Blanchett as Jude Quinn, whose story takes the most from No Direction Home. When I first heard Cate Blanchett was going to play Bob Dylan, I thought it was insane. BUT HOLY SHIT. The fact that Bob Dylan, at that time, looked soooo young and sounded so young, paired with the fact that Cate Blanchett is not super curvy and has a fairly strong chin actually made her portrayal make so much sense. Give Blanchett the right hair and costumes and she does all the rest; after watching No Direction Home so recently, it was eery how similar she was to the real Bob Dylan of that time.
Of course, Heath Ledger’s section (as actor Robbie Clark) also particularly struck me. Not because of his character’s connections to Bob Dylan, but just because the story and performances were so good. Charlotte Gainsbourg plays Clark’s eventual ex-wife and their breakup scene nearly made me cry (it really would have if it had gone on maybe 30 seconds longer). God, it chokes me up just thinking about it. It’s intense.
Really, all of I’m Not There is intense. I honestly don’t know much someone would like this if they don’t like or have no knowledge of Bob Dylan. But I still think it’s worth it, if for no other reason to see so many good actors be so good.
As I’m writing this I’m listening to The Basement Tapes, a recording done by Bob Dylan and The Band in 1967. Ever since Elizabeth said that she would be down to sit through a few minutes of No Direction Home, I’ve been into this super Bob Dylan mindset. It’s been a few years since I’ve really listened to his stuff, like I did in high school or college, and I kind of forgot how amazing he is and the kinds of emotions I get from listening to his songs. I was thinking about this last night. In many ways now I would say Joanna Newsom would be the number one person I would ever want to see, but I feel like most of that is because I know I will see it (If she ever performs in Texas I will be there) but I’ll never be able to really see Bob Dylan at his prime when I would have liked to see him. I went to see him once with a friend of mine from high school, Todd, but he didn’t really do much and it was kind of more of a concet or his band. But anyway, if I could somehow go back in time when Bob Dylan was first performing his own material in New York or be a the concert where he first played his electric stuff. I think I would just burst into tears, it would be insane. I would imagine I would be in a state that I propably wouldn’t evn be able to enjoy it. I went to see Brian Regan live when I was in high school and I was scared that he would make me laugh so hard that that’s all I would have been doing the whole time and they would have had to kick me out of the place; luckily I was able to contain myself. In regards to this film. I can’t love it enough. It’s essentially an essay on Bob Dylan. Some of it is goofy, I’ve never been a big fan of the covers, but if I ever made a movie I think it would be pretty weird in the same ways. I saw this film twice in theaters. I think the first time was with my mom and the second time a really good friend of mine, Justin, and I went to see some other movie and when we were leaving we noticed that the theater I’m Not There was playing was about to end so we just snuck in, watched the very end of the movie, and then stayed and watched it all the way through. ‘Cause it’s that good! But if you know nothing about Bob Dylan I don’t think I would recommend this to you. I really wanted to watch it with Elizabeth, becuase I love it and I know she loved Heath Ledger, but I knew we needed to watch No Direction Home beforehand. It just makes everything make so much sense in such a fantastic way because everything in I’m Not There is there for a reason and it has so much history and stories behind it. This film is so well researched and molds together in a way that just makes it flow seamlessly. I love Bob Dylan. I contribute much of my personality and my interests in general to him. I feel like before I found his music I didn’t really like listening to music in general. When I think back it was all the generic stuff people my age liked back then. I was kind of into Bob Marley for a while but once I started listening to Dylan he was immedialty my favorite. We really need to watch all of Todd Haynes’ movies.