Friday, August 29, 2008

I'm Not There...and neither are you... (Kind of a Movie Review #2)


I’m not there, I’m gone.
Bob Dylan

Just got the DVD of I’m Not There—a movie that makes little sense to normal people—and, somehow, my explanations don't seem to help much: “that part represents Blood on the Tracks...and that part’s kind of a mix of the Basement Tapes, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, and a couple other things...and that part’s kind of a parody of parts of Don’t Look Back, and Eat the Document, as well as an homage to Fellini and Godard, and the conversation the Dylan character's having with Michelle Williams’ character, who’s based on Edie Sedgwick, who Dylan wrote ‘Just Like a Woman’ about, and Lou Reed wrote ‘Femme Fatale’ about, is mostly lyrics from an obscure song called ‘She’s Your Lover Now,' and the Dylan character's played by a woman because...um....’” Nonetheless, every time I see it—and, truth be told, I've been watching it over and over—I become more convinced that it's the best thing to make its way to a movie theatre so far in this young century...capturing the masks and mythologies around Bob Dylan in a dizzying mosaic...from Cate Blanchett’s brilliant androgynous rock star to a surreal funeral in an absurd circus-like village that Pat Garrett’s about to put a highway through...though it's also more than that, since, even if most of us haven’t gone to quite so much effort to construct and project various personas as Dylan...or Bowie...or Madonna...that doesn’t mean they’re not there....

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself.
I am large. I contain multitudes.
Walt Whitman

People talk a lot about the real me, as if any one me is any more or less real than any other me...and, more often than not, the real label tends to get pinned to our worst selves...be nice to somebody for years, but the one day you're not so nice, suddenly it’s now I’m finally seeing the real you...though, fortunately, mothers and any others we’re lucky enough to have love us unconditionally tend to see only that sweet child underneath all the thorny scar tissue...and certainly deserve to be loved unconditionally right back for that...even if it's no more the whole story than the other....

The heart of the confusion is that man has a sense of self which seems to him to be continuous and solid.
Chogyam Trungpa

Here in America we’re really into re-invention—as you’re no doubt aware, even if that awareness is mixed with resentment toward the English teacher who made you read The Great Gatsby—hell, be who you wanna be is kinda like an outtake from the Bill of Rights...or at least it would’ve been if Amendments I-X had been written as series of Positive Affirmations....

I’m too much with myself, I wanna be someone else.
The Lemonheads

Of course, the web has created endless new possibilities for being who you wanna be (though I, in case you’re wondering, am every bit as brilliant and studly in real life as I seem here)—as I said to a friend's fourteen year old daughter: “most boys your age on the web are actually men my age...and you don't wanna meet them”...that would probably count as little more than a virtual truth itself, but this is the internet we’re talking about....I actually downloaded the Second Life thing...curious about what possible appeal there could be for middle aged suburbanites to enter a virtual community to role-play as middle aged suburbanites, like I’d read about in the New York Times. In between laptop crashes, I somehow stumbled into the...well...raunchier neighborhoods...where children—virtual or otherwise—were the only thing not allowed...while toilets...Great Danes...horses...never mind. The one thing that surprised me, at first, was how predominantly female the crowd was...probably four or five beautiful, lingerie-clad female avatars for every male...and the vast majority of them lesbians, where I’d expected mostly nerdy guys. It didn’t take me too long to figure that one out....

19 comments:

yellowdog granny said...

my friend shady lane who knew bob dylan way back when said it was a great movie and kate was spot on..and joan baez still hasn't forgiven dylan for breaking her heart and stealing her songs...
thanks for stopping by..

Matt said...

Dear Jay,

Please remind me to never read your blog, first thing in the morning, again. I think a blood vessel in my brain just burst. It happens sometimes when Stream of Consciousness Eddie sends me something to post and it makes me dizzy.

FairyDaizy said...

I like Bob Dylan music..and Walt Whitman poetry..

Lana Gramlich said...

Interesting post. Although I've enjoyed Dylan's lyrics, I can't take his singing. I recently purchased Eddie Murphy "Delirious" (which has FINALLY come out on DVD,) because sometimes I just need to laugh far more than I need to think.
I'm not on the reinventing bandwagon, myself. WYSIWYG with me. Love me or "bite my shiny, metal ass." ;)

Rebecca said...

"I become more convinced that it's the best thing to make its way to a movie theatre so far in this young century."

Wow - that's quite a sell. I'm definitely curious to check it out. The truth is I've been a little scared. But if it's the best thing since cheese cubes and malt liquor, then well, I might just put it in my DVD player and pull the couch up close for this one.

K. Whitton-Williams said...

This is a seriously great post. Thanks - I've been wondering about the person who knew every line Bob Dylan ever wrote. I am going to put John Wesley Harding in the CD player and go look at the sun.

KWW

Linda Sama said...

thanks for blogrolling me! did the same for your blog....

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

The best dylan things i've seen include an impressionist doing a Dylan sings Kylie Minogue album and, of course, Dylan from The Magic Roundabout (cue loss of cultural reference)

Didn't see the film, but it intrigues me...

Kikipotamus said...

I've been wanting to see this film ever since it came to the indie cinema near me last year, but I didn't manage it. Now it's on the list for rental this fall/winter. I've loved Dylan for decades, lyrics AND voice. Very much looking forward to this film, more so now.

As for selves...I'm trying to lose mine. If I succeed, I'll finally understand that "I" don't exist.

Ian Thal said...

Your free-association with Walt Whitman leads me to my own association with Whitman which is itself part of an endless parade of masks.

drinking water filter said...

he he go look at the sun is good habbit.

Lynn said...

Just wanted you to know that your visit to my blog triggered a "Post" in my comment section back to you ;-) That sort of goes on and on... (about long time friend)

Never was a big music fan, however, Dylan is one I can actually hear in my head when his name comes up. Love his voice, and music from "my era"....

JOSEPH GELB said...

@the article well said good points

Arnold Layne said...

I really did want to see that movie, with one being the worst and five being the best, how many stars would you rate it? I love abstract movies.

Sarah said...

Well said.

"I'm Not There" is a difficult film to describe but it is well worth viewing -- a beautifully shot, brilliantly acted, wonderfully inconclusive film about the life, times and personalities of a chimeric American icon.

I'd personally rate it five out of five.

eric said...

You somehow manage to sum up a movie that's nearly impossible to describe. I guess it's fitting for a movie about one of the most enigmatic icons in American history. Bob Dylan is probably the greatest musician in history, with maybe the exception of the beatles, and I'm Not There does an incredible job of paying tribute in an almost parodic style. Great movie. Great post.

Christine Vyrnon said...

Funny True Story: The night I saw this movie in the theatre, I came home, and without any prior knowlege of the genre... NONE... I felt inexplicably compelled to start my first blog. Something about this movie pushed me over the edge of something.

Thanks to the dylan muse, I not only am in platonic love with Charlotte Gainsbourg, but reside in blogging hell.

One of these days you'll have to pilgrimage to dylan-land.

svasti said...

After my DVD rental service finally sent this movie to me (I see most things Cate Blanchett is in - have you seen her in Little Fish? Its a small Aussie Indie flick), and then I moved and had to get around to connecting the TV and the DVD player... being too tired to watch movies for a while and finally today managing to watch it end to end...

Now I feel like I can comment on this post!

But still, somewhat uneducated because ofcourse, unlike yourself, I'm not overly familiar with Dylan. And it seems, music is one of your 'things' and knowing music and certain musicians really well. I'm just not that cool.

All that aside... it was a fantastic piece of poetry in the form of a movie, even for the uninitiated. A little hard to follow if you don't know Dylan's history, sure, but I felt prompted to go read up on him afterwards. Like I do with other good movies on historical figures I'm unfamiliar with.

Yes the 'real' tag is tough, and its hard to define... and what one means by that is not the same as another... and even when you think you've seen the 'real' someone that doesn't mean that's how they'll behave a majority of the time for all kinds of reasons.

I too, once downloaded Second Life and yeah... people attempting to connect without any of the benefits of actual connection...

Did you hear the story recently of a couple that got divorced because the guy had an 'affair' in Second Life? His wife hooked up with someone else via a gaming site and the chick the guy had an affair with will become his new wife...

Jennifer said...

Interesting serendipity -- first, the Dylan quote in your comment, secondly, finding your blog via blogcatalog, third, following a link that Svasti posted on Storied Mind about this post ...