Friday, November 23, 2007

I'm Not There (but this is Black Friday)

Today is Black Friday, the biggest day of the year for shopping.


J. C. Penney was open at 4 AM – I’m Not There

Macy’s opened at 6 AM – I’m Not There


We left the house by 9:30 AM to get to the Lincoln Square Cinemas for the 11:00 show of my favorite movie.  Since we got there a little early we browsed around the Best Buy just a block away.  We entered the theater at 10:40 and got good seats in the middle.


I am not a film critic by trade or avocation. There have been many reviews of the movie written to date.  Let me make my comments as a Dylan fan since 1965.  Many readers of this journal were not born yet in 1965.


You must know at least something about Mr. Zimmerman before you can enjoy or even understand the complexities of this movie.  Whenever I read a biography or see a biographical movie I hope the author uses a chronological approach.  For example Walk the Line (Johnny Cash) and Ray (Ray Charles) were chronological with the same actor playing the subject.  Filmmaker Todd Haynes was anything but chronological in his approach to Dylan.  The movie moved from one time frame to another.  Let me make some disconnected comments:


  1. There has always been an “alias” theme in Dylan’s songs.  He assumes the identity of others in his sounds.There was even a book titled Alias Bob Dylan by Stephen Scobie.  In the movie Pat Garrett and Billie the Kid, Dylan’s character was named Alias. Haynes using the reverse alias theme here since the 5 actors and actress have different names.  There are other characters in Dylan’s life including Joan Baez, Albert Grossman, and Sara Lowndes (his first wife) who have other names in the film.  For some strange reason actors portraying Allen Ginsburg and Brian Jones (Rolling Stones) appear with their own name.
  2. The segments with Kate Blanchett as Dylan were shot in Black and White.  Much of these scenes represented the D.A. Pennebaker documentary Don’t Look Back about the 1965 tour of England.  There was a scene where Nashville Skyline Rag (1969) was heard in the background while Dylan was talking to 4 men looking like the Beatles who were being chased by fans as they were in A Hard Day’s Night (1964) another Black and White Film.
  3. Marcus Carl Franklin, the young Dylan named Woody, was thrown off a freight train into a river.  He was rescued by a couple that brought him home.  There they received a phone call saying that a kid from Minnesota was missing. (Hi Louise)
  4. Later in the film one of the Dylans visited the ailing Woody Guthrie in the hospital.
  5. As I write this journal entry, I am listening to the movie soundtrack that is Dylan Covers plus Dylan singing I’m Not There.  In the actual movie there are several songs that were actually sung by Dylan.
  6. There were no references to Dylan’s career after the born again Christian period of the late 1970s.  Cold Iron Bounds from the 1990swas on the soundtrack.
  7. Lee was disappointed that there were no references to Johnny Cash.  At age 19 he was the youngest person in the audience.
  8. As I mentioned before it is impossible to cover anything, but there was no reference to Dylan’s defense of boxer Ruben Hurricane Carter in the mid 1970s.
  9. There was a funny scene when the dubbed voice of Lyndon Johnson on a television screen said, “The Sun is Not Yellow, It’s Chicken”, a line from Tombstone Blues sung earlier in the film by Richie Havens.  I wish he would have said, “Even the President of the United States must have to stand naked” from It’s Alright Ma.
  10. I know some of my oldies enthusiast friends are reading this journal.  The only Top 40 hit in the movie was “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone” by the Monkees sung by former WCBS-FM DJ Micky Dolenz.  I had a little chuckle here.  The Monkees!  Why not Donovan or the Byrds or Crosby Stills and Nash?
  11. Karen, Lee and I among many others in the theater stayed until all the credits rolled.


I will definitely see I’m Not There again.  Most likely, I will wait until it comes out in DVD.  I will then be able to pause it while I make some explanations to Karen and Lee.  I have seen Don’t Look Back umpteen times over the last 40 years.  Whenever you see a movie again, you always see something else you missed the first time.   I would like to send hearty congratulation to Todd Haynes for a job well done.  If it wereup to me I would give him an academy award for best picture.


After the movie we walked up to the Barnes and Nobles on 66th Street and Broadway.  I bought Bookends about Simon and Garfunkel by New York radio personality Pete Fornatale.  The copy was even autographed by Pete.  I also bought another book about Dylan called Million Dollar Bash concerning Dylan, the Band and the basement tapes.  The song I’m Not There was recorded by Dylan and the Band but was lost until used in the film.  I bought a CD Dirt Farmer by Levon Helm who was an integral member of the Band for many years.  My final purchase was a Jeopardy calendar.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mange tusen tak. . .vielen danke. . or just plain "thanks a lot" for that great review and explanation of "I'm Not There" -- I will read and reread that before going to see the move b/c I know it will help explain a lot about the movie.  Thanks for taking the time to do that for us. Now I just have to find the time to go and see it. We have two trips to Iowa planned to see our 2 daughters and families in December. I'll have to check and see if our nearby theater complex is planning to show the movie.  If not, I'll make the trip into "the cities."  I don't shop Thanksgiving weekend - I'm wrapping gifts and Dave is watching the h.s. football championship games from the Metrodome on TV.  Again, thanks for taking the time to explain the movie in "laymen's" terms.

Minnesota Louise!

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