Thursday, January 17, 2008

i'm not there

there's a degree to which there could be no other title for a bob dylan biopic than 'i'm not there', todd haynes' never less than intriguing take on the life of the man who either represents dedication to hiding greater than any other artist, or reveals all there is to know in his music.

it's a very smart idea to have six actors play characters inspired by the dylan myth; something feels entirely right about having a young black kid, a woman, and richard gere all stand in for different aspects/eras/stories from his life. the film's stunning design - image and sound - conceal a deceptively simple core: nobody knows the real dylan, so maybe there's no real dylan there at all, or, more likely, maybe he is everything we want him to be.

i found myself checking in and out of the movie - i felt it could do with a little tightening, but then again, perhaps its looseness is the point - though it's undeniably thrilling in places. when the 'real' bob shows up in the last moments of the film, in archive footage playing his harmonica, i had the strangest experience: i've never been that interested in bob dylan as a person, though of course some of the music is unrepeatably marvellous. but after a couple of hours of mining the potential pasts of this keystone cultural figure, seeing his 'real' face, hearing his 'real' music was an emotional grace note to compare with the films that make us all cry.



Sounds like you dug the movie. Watch it'll dig it even deeper.

Anyway, since you are a clearly fan I thought I'd introduce you to my new novel, BLOOD ON THE TRACKS, which I think you'd enjoy.

It's a murder-mystery. But not just any rock superstar is knocking on heaven's door. The murdered rock legend is none other than Bob Dorian, an enigmatic, obtuse, inscrutable, well, you get the picture...

Suspects? Tons of them. The only problem is they're all characters in Bob's songs.

You can get a copy on or go "behind the tracks" at to learn more about the book.

peter said...

I enjoyed "I'm Not There", perhaps especially the scenes with Charlotte Gainsbourg and Heath Ledger.
I liked the way the film demonstrates in a playful way the impossibility of attempting to locate the "I" within any kind of fixed and limiting ego-bound construct. Rather, it is to be 'located' in a living, open and present moment awareness, and as part of a constantly changing whole-field vision.