I'm Not There: Two-Disc Collector's Edition Todd Haynes

I'm Not There: Two-Disc Collector's Edition Todd Haynes
I’m Not There is simply breathtaking cinema, a master achievement by Todd Haynes that illuminates the elusiveness of persona via Bob Dylan, the most artful shape-shifter of the past 50 years, and, bolstered with interview-based features, this DVD demonstrates how infectious the odd structure was on other aspects of the film. I’m Not There employs six actors to play versions of Dylan, none of which are named as such, yet each emulating the artist and/or his work during distinctive stages. Haynes’s remarkable cast occupy their roles with surreal accuracy and, as Haynes often implies, this isn’t a traditional biopic — this is getting to know someone who’s squirmed his way into being unknowable for his own protective sanity. A young African-American boy (Marcus Carl Franklin) hobos around rustic locales calling himself "Woody Guthrie,” while a beatnik poet named "Arthur Rimbaud” (Ben Whishaw) is interrogated about his worldview, representing two of Dylan’s most important influences. Cate Blanchett is truly eerie as Jude Quinn, a flawless conjuring of the bratty, mid-’60s, media-sick speed freak Dylan, who plugged in an electric guitar, was protested for not protesting and changed rock music forever. Richard Gere’s "Billy the Kid” is the anti-establishment Dylan, who, with notes from Greil Marcus and the old, weird music of the Band, dwells in the absurdist historicism of The Basement Tapes. The key confluence of personal versus persona in the film lies between Christian Bale and the late Heath Ledger. Bale’s "Jack Rollins” is a young folk singer who sheds heaping, politicised expectations by withdrawing, reappearing years later as an evangelical pastor, mimicking Dylan’s own travails and born again period. In one of his last roles, Ledger (who’s given a filmic tribute feature) is "Robbie,” a movie star whose break is playing "Jack Rollins,” eventually morphing into a celebrity unable to sustain a private family life, just as Dylan endured in the mid-’70s. The more insightful featurettes implicitly mirror that same schizophrenic structure. Covering similar ground as the director’s commentary, "A Conversation with Todd Haynes” sees the director fielding sequential questions about the film — at festival screening press conferences, the red carpet premiere and on press junkets — from many the interviews he conducted, in effect showcasing different versions of Todd Haynes. In "Making the Soundtrack,” we learn that Haynes procured Joe Henry, Lee Ranaldo and Joey Burns to each produce the folk, psychedelic blues and post-Summer of Love country rock elements of Dylan’s catalogue, respectively, for a soundtrack with multiple feels and personalities. The new versions reflect the dizzying rush of ideas, images and music that Haynes renders with I’m Not There, which is as stirringly mystifying as one of Bob Dylan’s great songs. Plus: "Dylanography,” deleted/extended scenes, outtakes, galleries, trailers. (Alliance)