Tuesday, November 27, 2007
See Your Fragmented Self In I’m Not There (2007)
So If I were in the Todd Haynes film I'm Not There concerning Bob Dylan I would play the seventh Dylan.
As a young student I would discover Bob Dylan through easily palpable sources (ala “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” by The Beatles) because I didn’t like his voice at first. But, I’d soon be familiar with Christian Bale’s character Jack Rollins, the prophet, finger-pointin’ folkie. Bale gleefully exudes the stereotypes I had about Dylan (the kind most people have) leaving me optimistic and expectant but vulnerable.
At this time I re-picked up the guitar and like Marcus Carl Franklin’s character Woody Guthrie, I picked up my heroe's songs pretty well, harp and all. I could start naming all of his influences, move a crowd and fake my way through any trivia contest. Like Franklin I could charm my way through all the standards (Just hear my desperate versions“Blowin’ In The Wind” and “The Times They Are A-Changin”), but I didn’t yet realize that imitation leads nowhere.
Finally I tried to branch out on my own, wildly and chaotically in the same vein as Ben Wishaw’s Arthur Rimbaud. I feel like I can provide a commentary on my current situation and I do well during the interrogation like cool Arthur, but after awhile the pressure gets too much to me and I start to lose my composure. I just cannot take these hounds and flashbulbs anymore; they do not say who I am.
I grab my weapon (“Not in any literalized sense”) and I decide to blow them away like Cate Blanchett’s Jude Quinn. “I refuse to be heard,” she exclaims nervously, neurotically; she’s a ghastly site, a person not quite centered and on a witty, fierce defense. And oh does she defend well against the likes of ravenously selfish fans, confused reporters, Michelle Williams as Coco Rivington (Edie Sedgwick) and Bruce Greenwood as a BBC journalist. I feel things starting to crack; I know that I cannot survive very long on drugs (maybe it’ll help The Beatles deal with those hard days and nights), apparent disinterest, angered disassociation and witty cool.
Maybe I should turn to God. Maybe I’ll see angels in the street like Jack Rollins. Christian Bale could lead me in the right direction as Pastor John singing the magnificent gospel of “Pressin On.” Could this be the freedom I need from the wary eyes of those who seek to impose on me like they’re trying with to do with Jude? It could be, but that would end in comfort and stagnation. So instead I start to hurt those around me without realizing and get caught up in the electric period of the man I’m imitating.
Heath Ledger as Robbie and I now have some problems with women and our own egos due to this ease of cynicism and wit that we borrowed from our heroes (The Godard references are perfect). Like Robbie I could only break through by listening and letting those around me listen (Charlotte Gainsbourg is the most gorgeous, striking woman on the planet).
Do I understand everything yet? No, there still is that whole fame and identity entrapment thing to confront. I decide to leave for awhile, maybe grow a beard and live a simple life ala Richard Gere’s Billy the Kid. I even live in a surreal world with carnivals, funerals, Halloween and animals. I try hard believing that I’m free from it all, but I really do care and I am forced to stand up and fight once again.
I jump back into the fray with Jude who is now dealing with a Fellini-esque circus around her. Can it be true that “Death is so part of the scene right now”? Is a motorcycle crash the correct way to escape? At the time it seemed the only appropriate tactic to get off the whirlwind. I don’t blame Jude for it one bit. Is reinvention death? Maybe in some circles, but I’m sure those are the circles you want to get out of.
Seeing the Todd Haynes masterpiece I’m Not There was like staring into a mirror.
Bob Dylan however remains as elusive as ever.
Bob Dylan-"I'm Not There"
I'm Not There on IMDB
Great review in Film Comment
Part 1 of an interview with Todd Haynes