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Old 12-03-2007, 02:15 AM   #406
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I'm Not There - Fuckin' Best Movie of the Year/10

I really don't know where to start with this film. I do know that going into the picture with a respectable knowledge of Dylan or at least a broad familiarity of his music is increasingly beneficial to both the understanding and probably the enjoyment of I'm Not There. In other words, if you know nothing about the man and the artist Bob Dylan, you likely aren't going to know any more when you leave this film. But I strongly believe all audiences will leave with unparalleled insight into the psyche, the torment, and the myth behind one of America's greatest living artists, whether they know it or not.

What Todd Haynes has accomplished with this piece is nothing short of a masterpiece. On the surface, he's taken a concept, a hook, nearly designed for failure, and applied it to a quickly stagnating genre, thereby deconstructing the film biopic and replacing its fundamental devices with a wholly unique and inherently surprising cinema experience. There isn't a single predictable moment in the film, which in itself defies the laws of the genre, since the script functions within and without the bounds of reality, unapologetically shuffling times, personas, logics, and a handful of radically opposed cinematic styles.

The result is nothing if not inspired. There's a lot at work here, but the majority of viewers are going to see six different actors portray Bob Dylan. It's a novel hook, and it works wonders for marketing the film, but after the first 20 minutes or so, the focus isn't on the novelty, it's on Todd Haynes and his remarkable control over his chosen artistic medium.

I'm Not There is essentially a sketch of Dylan. It's a sketch printed onto a lush jigsaw puzzle. A jigsaw puzzle with no defined edges, whose individual pieces are borrowed and swipes from six different boxes. The subject remains the same, but the inspiration and execution varies.

This film is also a marvel of editing and design. Any misstep would have destroyed the entire film, but there were none. Every actor filled their duties beautifully, and like everyone has mentioned before, Blanchett nearly steals the show. But like I said, it's really Todd Haynes' show. The man clearly has a greater spiritual connection to Dylan. The legend the man is overwhelming, and the mere thought of capturing America's most provocative, iconic, prolific, and mysterious songwriter in one film remains a dumbfounding proposition. I just saw the film and still can't believe he accomplished it.

As much as this is a tribute to a man and an artist, it's also as much a tribute to the art and method of film itself. Todd Haynes has created one of the most rich and progressive films in recent memory, and he's clearly pushing the medium in an exciting direction like very few directors show the ambition to dare try. I'm Not There is clearly one for the history books, and film students and enthusiasts will be studying this and discussing this one 20, 30, and 50 years from now.

ZOMG!!!! YES!

It's strange, I feel there are other 2007 films with greater thematic weight than I'm Not There (like James/Ford and No Country, for instance), but I just can't get undervalue how blown away I was by this film. It just unspools like a revolution on the screen, and I can't imagine a greater tribute to its subject. It's a distillation and an amalgamation but also a jumping off point for anyone who wants to explore the abstract terrain of the artist in question. It paints with the full palette of cinema as Dylan has utilitzed the full scope of 20th Century American music.

Thank you Lance for sharing your enthusiasm, and I'm just glad I'm not the only one here who feels that way.
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Old 12-03-2007, 02:28 AM   #407
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I'm reasonably vexed by the majority of the reviews mentioning how unnecessary or distracting Richard Gere's Billy The Kid segments were. Not only was it a perfect bookend to the film along with the first segment, but I found many of my favorite moments from the film to be found in Gere's scenes.

On a side note, I'm starting to get scared how often we agree on these things. Hopefully Youth Without Youth will be in our favor as well, though I doubt I'll see another film quite as exquisite or innovative as I'm Not There again this year... at least not until something like Synecdoche, New York or the like.

I'm simply impressed beyond belief.
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Old 12-03-2007, 02:51 AM   #408
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Yeah, the Gere scenes get too much shit. I imagine that if you haven't explored The Basement Tapes or John Wesley Harding very much, this segment is going to feel really out there.

I love its nods to Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid, as well as McCabe & Mrs. Miller. Perfect choices for an aesthetic blueprint.

I think it's the part of the film I really want to see again. Plus, it's a nice touch that Bruce Greenwood plays Pat Garrett in these scenes, as a complement to his portrayal of "the journalist" a.k.a. Mr. Jones in the Blanchett part of the film..
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Old 12-03-2007, 03:08 AM   #409
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The entire "Ballad of a Thin Man" was really stunning.

Which brings the point of how well all the music was used in the film. I mean, it should have been expected to be used well, but GOD DAMN. It wasn't just thrown in because it's the artist's music, like you see done with other musical biopics. What I loved about the film was how well it explored Dylan's more iconic music as well as Dylan the artist/man.

When "Idiot Wind" began playing during Ledger's divorce dialogue. My God, I'd be a liar if I said I didn't tear up. Not because of how sad it was, but because I was seeing one of my favorite albums of all time being brought to life in front of my eyes.
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Old 12-03-2007, 10:28 AM   #410
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What got me was that brief, grainy clip of the real Dylan at the end, doing one of those killer harp solos. A nice payoff.
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Old 12-04-2007, 07:40 PM   #411
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Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (dir. Sidney Lumet)

Well, this was pretty depressing. I mean, aside from seeing Marissa Tomei half-naked in like 3 scenes, which was well worth the price of admission. Woman looks damned good for 43. FORTY-THREE! Can you fucking believe that?

Anyway, all the actors were fantastic, PS Hoffman seems incapable of giving anything but a stellar performance in every film. Hawke was not the self-assured guy we usually see, so jittery it was almost uncomfortable to watch. Tomei shows once again that she can deliver the acting goods when someone bothers to give her a decent part.

Kudos to Lumet for directing such a tough piece of pulp at age 82. You would have thought this was shot by some indie up-and-comer, and I don't mean that as an insult, but more in the way that it's full of energy.

I will say though, pretty much all the characters are unlikeable in one way or another. Watching this plot unfold was like watching a few turds slowly spiral their way around and down the drain. I can't say I was sorry to see them go.

So, recommended if you like seeing unpleasantness in the hands of a master.
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Old 12-04-2007, 09:04 PM   #412
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Live Free or Die Hard, 7/10.

Better than I expected, that's pretty much all I have to say.

Waitress, 7/5/10.
Cute and quirky, the success of the movie is really the cast of characters who are all individuals and standouts in their own way. I liked the idea of the almost whimsical town, and her story really was quite bittersweet.
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Old 12-04-2007, 10:20 PM   #413
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Glad you liked Before The Devil Knows You're Dead, laz. One of my very favorites of the year so far. It's quite the beautiful disaster.
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Old 12-05-2007, 01:37 AM   #414
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Things We Lost In The Fire (dir. Susanne Bier)

Caught this at the dollar theatre today. It's really a shame that this one came and went so quickly. Benicio Del Toro turns in what very well may be the best performance of the year so far as a recovering heroin addict who moves in with the wife and children of his recently deceased longtime friend. No showy or gimmicky stuff here, just BDT's ability to completely inhabit the person he's playing. One of our more natural actors, and it's a shame he doesn't get to prove it more often. Halle Berry proves that her Oscar wasn't a fluke, as she covers some pretty rough terrain and conflicted emotions in the film.

The director is a Danish filmmaker who chose this script to make her English language debut, and she has a great eye for the little moments, the hints of truth that flesh out these characters.

John Carroll Lynch, the guy who played the prime suspect in Zodiac is here too, and so is Alison Lohmann, all growns up since her great turn in Matchstick Men.

This may be good enough to finish in my Top 10 this year, even though I don't have much of a desire to see it again. Either way, it will be a crime when Del Toro is overlooked for an Oscar nom, which I'm sure will be the case due to the failure of this film at the box office. Unfortunate.
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Old 12-05-2007, 01:56 AM   #415
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I'll check that one out on DVD when the time comes.
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Old 12-05-2007, 01:51 PM   #416
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awesome movie...suspenseful and was better than i expected! has some good plot twists
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Old 12-05-2007, 02:12 PM   #417
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Angel- A , directed by Luc Besson , reminds me of Le Petite Prince & Wings Of Desire , it's a good thing some people still make movies about love
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Old 12-05-2007, 03:23 PM   #418
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I would like to see Things we Lost In the Fire. I'll be checking that out on DVD.

Frances

7/10

Jessica Lange was excellent, and jeez, what a sad story Frances Farmer had. Also educational ... I had no idea people could function after a frontal lobotomy. Eek.
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Old 12-08-2007, 01:52 AM   #419
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ATONEMENT - 9.5/10
~A Formal Review~



This was a film I wasn't entirely sure of before seeing it. The trailers left me lukewarm, and the early word was positive but typically constrained. It turns out to be an appropriate response, because Joe Wright has proven to be a filmmaker who understands the important of constraint. He's not only familiar with the principle of making the most use of every frame, but he excels at it. Atonement is a romantic war film that threatens to burst at the seems at any second, spilling genre-typical grandiose revelations of narrative excess. The score threatens to erupt in genre-typical melodramatic sap, and the camera always threatens to succumb to the all-too dangerous routines of stock period romanticism. The reason Atonement is an unrivaled success of the genre is because of Wright's unparalleled restraint.



I'm not going to summarize the plot, because you can read that anywhere if you desire, but also because this film's narrative arc is as untypical as it's success at avoiding the pitfalls of the genre. If you don't know much about the details, don't read about them. Atonement is filled with more wonders than I ever imagined a modern film like this would venture to explore. The first act is as tightly choreographed an establishing sequence as I've ever seen. Wright utilizes all the tools of the trade, from shifting restricted narration and a >1 frequency of key events, to beautifully rich composition to one of the more brilliant conceptions of film scoring I've been treated too in the theater for quite a while.

[Which reminds me; Atonement has the finest sound design of the year, easily. Not to make this personal, but I'm an Audio Production student in college, so a more conscious perception of sound design in films simply comes with the territory. As such it generally takes a lot for a film's sound design to really impress me, but when a film exceeds expectations and creates a truly perfect aural experience, I can't help but be overjoyed. From the score which plays with the relationship between diegetic and non-diegetic sound and finds its function within the narrative to one of the more subtly stunning 5.1 mixes I've experienced in the theater, this film better have some technical Oscars coming its way.]

But thankfully, the rest of the film maintains an equally impressive artistic control over all the cinematic techniques that stand out in the first act, even though nearly every scene had me on the edge of my seat, praying it won't all come crashing down. It never does. Every standout aspect you may have overheard regarding the film is likely just as wonderful as it sounds. The Dunkirk shot will likely be the most talked-about, and is surely destined to become one of cinema history's great single-takes. The performances all receive top marks, the highlights being the young Saoirse Ronan and the ever-graceful Vanessa Redgrave as the adolescent and senior screen presences of Briony Tallis, the film's central character. The film's final act is an unusual as the film's overall success, and strangely reminded me of said part of No Country For Old Men, a film whose final moments both perplexed and enraged some audiences. The closing moments of Atonement shouldn't have quite such a polarizing effect, but they continue the film's trend of breaking convention even if they border just ever so slightly on over-sentimentality.



There's very little keeping me from calling this film a masterpiece, but I'm not ready to call it such just yet. For one reason, I may have just been too surprised by how satisfying the film was that I may have missed some (remarkably well-) hidden flaws...though I doubt it. There's also the issue concerning Wright's treatment of the final monologue of the film, which I still need to settle my taste on.

But as it stands, Atonement is a brilliant, remarkable, and wholly recommendable film, for fans of great cinema in general. (It's also a fantastic date film, given the audience I found myself in)
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Old 12-08-2007, 06:54 PM   #420
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This looks similar to The English Patient (it's certainly being advertised as such), so I was planning on checking it out anyway. If it comes even close to being that good, I'll be very impressed. Wright did a great job with Pride & Prejudice, but I don't really feel at this point he's an artist on the level of Anthony Minghella.
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