I'm Not There (2007) - Two-Disc Collector's Edition

Genre(s): Biographical / Drama / Music
Weinstein Company || R - 135 minutes - $29.99 || May 6,2008
Reviewer: Elyusha Vafaeisefat || Posted On: 2008-05-06


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Todd Haynes
Writer(s): Todd Haynes & Oren Moverman (screenplay), Todd Haynes (story)
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, Julianne Moore, Bruce Greenwood


Theatrical Release Date: November 21, 2008


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:

    Disc 1:
  • Director Commentary
  • On-Screen Lyrics
  • Introduction to the Film


  • Disc 2:
  • Audition Tapes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Alternate/Extended Scenes
  • Outtakes
  • Tribute to Heath Ledger
  • Red Carpet Premiere
  • Making the Soundtrack
  • A Conversation with Todd Hayes
  • Dylanography
  • Discography
  • Filmography
  • Filmmaker's Notebook
  • Still Galleries
  • Theatrical Trailers


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

The music biopic is a genre of filmmaking that has been around just as long as the inception of film itself. Whether if it's The Jazz Singer, Coal Miner's Daughter or Walk the Line, the biography of a musician is something that fascinates virtually everyone. For I'm Not There, director Todd Haynes takes a different approach to telling the story of a legendary musician. Inspired by the life of Bob Dylan, I'm Not There tells Dylan's story through the use of six different characters. Each of those characters represents Dylan at different stages in his life. Because of this unique style of storytelling, I'm Not There becomes a very experimental film reminiscent of Jean Luc-Godard and Federico Fellini's "avant garde" work of the 60's.

I'm Not There has an impressive cast including Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger and newcomers Marcus Carl Franklin and Ben Whishaw all as Bob Dylan. The film's supporting cast is equally as great with fine performances by Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood, Charlotte Gainsbourg and a surprising performance by David Cross as Alan Ginsburg. The film is without a doubt an actor's film. Each actor showcases their abilities as the film progresses through the life of Bob Dylan. We see the Greemwich Village folk singer, the electric guitar trailblazer, the born again preacher and the youthful African American boy inspired by southern music from blues to Woody Guthrie. I found each segment to be intriguing because of Haynes' approach to telling Dylan's story. Though it may not be a surprise if anyone has seen Haynes' first film Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story. I won't spoil anything but Haynes tells the story of the musical group The Carpenters all by using Barbie dolls. And it is a 45 minute film. Yes, you just read that right.

The references to films of the 60's like Godard's Two or Three Things I Know About Her or Masculin Feminin and Fellini's 8 (there are a few scenes that are directly ripped from Fellini's film) are apparent throughout the course of the film. Haynes uses black and white film, 16 mm grainy film and film that is saturated with dark colors all to tell the story. The film also jumps back and forth between Dylan at different times of his life as he writes different types of music. The one gripe I had with the film is that some of the Dylan covers don't necessarily work in the film. With an artist that is so well known like Dylan or The Beatles, songs that of theirs that are covered sometimes feel more like parodies than simply different versions of their music. For instance, the Blanchett character's renditions of various Dylan songs were frankly, annoying. I also didn't like some of the songs that Marcus Carl Franklin did as the "youthful" Bob Dylan. Still, I commend Haynes for attempting to give those songs a different sound because they are so well known.

The film itself is certainly not for everyone. Just as Dylan himself remains enigmatic, so does the film's storytelling style. If you are not a fan of Dylan's work, I think you may find it hard to sit through the 135 minute running time. For those that appreciate and are inspired by Dylan's work, it is fascinating to sit through because of Haynes' attention to detail. Still, even if one does not care for Dylan's work, I think I'm Not There is a fresh look at the biopic with a fine performances and a unique storytelling style that is a great homage to 60's cinema.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The first disc of the collector's edition includes a commentary from director Todd Haynes. Haynes provides a wealth of information regarding the film and never really gets too boring over the 135 minute running time. He covers everything from the genesis of the making the film itself to the casting and song choices used over the course of the film.

The first disc also includes an option to watch the film with Dylan's lyrics on screen. An Introduction to the Film is also included on disc one. Here, a series of articles such as "Who's Not There: Six Faces of Dylan," "Decoding An Entertaining Enigma" and "Notes on I'm Not There" all help in giving more detail and clarifying what each character represents over the course of the film.

Disc Two includes a section called "From the Edit Room." Here we see two short audition tapes from actors Marcus Carl Franklin and Ben Whishaw. 2 Deleted Scenes that only run 2 minutes total are also included. I'm not really sure why these scenes were cut since they were so brief and likely wouldn't have slowed down the already 2 hours+ film.

Next is a set of 4 Alternate/Extended scenes that runs roughly 19 minutes. All of the scenes are good but I felt that the ones used in the film were better versions except the "Pressing On" scene. I actually liked the alternate take more than the one used in the film.

4 minutes of outtakes and a 3 minute tribute to the late Heath Ledger is also included in this section of the DVD.

The next section is titled "Look Back" as it focuses more on the filmmaking process for I'm Not There.

We first get to see a 2 minute Red Carpet Premiere as brief interviews with Haynes and the cast are seen.

Next up is Making the Soundtrack which runs about 21 minutes. Here we get to see the various musicians Haynes used for the unique soundtrack. Each musician focused on a different character in order to give each character their own voice and a singular feel. It is an interesting collaboration of musical artists such as Eddie Vedder, Tom Verlaine, Stephen Malkmus and Sonic Youth just to name a few. By using these various artists, Haynes gives the soundtrack somewhat of an updated feel which actually hurts the film in some arrears but helps it in others.

A Conversation with Todd Haynes rounds out the extras in this segment. This mini-documentary runs about 42 minutes as we see a montage of several interviews with Haynes. A lot of the information is repeated from the commentary but Haynes' attention to detail and knowledge on Dylan comes off greatly in the interviews.

Also included on the DVD is a Dylanography that included Haynes' proposal to Bob Dylan himself in order to get permission to make the film. We also see a complete discography, filmography, filmmaker's notebook and still galleries. All of these sections are strictly text so only die hard fans of the film will likely be interested. Finally, the DVD includes a set of three trailers for the film.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

The film is presented in a 2.35 aspect ratio. Haynes mentions the fact he chose to film mostly cinemascope to give the film a very panoramic format. As a result, we get a very epic feel as the film uses a number of filmmaking styles to tell Dylan's story. The image is crisp and consistently good throughout the course of the film.

For a film that is based on the work of a musical artist, the sound design is something that needs to be focused on tremendously. The film is presented in an English Dolby 5.1 track that comes off screen very well. Though I must say that it would have been nice for them to add a DTS track as well. Nevertheless, I don't think Dylan fans will be disappointed with the film's overall soundtrack.



.::OVERALL::.

The Weinstein Company certainly put together a solid DVD package for the 2 Disc Collector's Edition of the film. Virtually all aspects of the film are covered though I would have liked to see more interviews with the cast. The film itself is drenched with various segments of Bob Dylan's life that I think die hard fans would appreciate. While Haynes may been a little too ambitious in his storytelling for the mainstream public, I'm Not There is still a unique addition to the biopic genre. Ironically, I don't think most people will come out of the film knowing anything more about Dylan than they did going into the film. I guess that all fits in with Dylan's own mysterious, complex and fragmented life thus far.