Review: I’m Not There, McCarthy Trenching; Todd Grant/Ted Stevens tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 8:50 pm December 1, 2007

I generally don’t review movies on Lazy-i unless they have some sort of music connection, which is why I’m jotting down a few words about “I’m Not There.” I saw it last night at the Dundee. All-in-all, a pretty bad flick. It’s only saving graces were Cate Blanchett, Jim James and the soundtrack. The rest of it was mildly embarrassing. I suppose the whole idea behind the lack of a plot line was to reflect the overall chaos that was/is Bob Dylan’s life. I get it. That doesn’t make it very interesting, though. Neither do the cheesy, amateurish performances by Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Ben Whishaw, and even little Marcus Carl Franklin, each representing either Dylan or one of his archetype characters/phases in life/ideas, all slammed together in one disjointed scene after another. Julianne Moore is so bad that I wondered if she was overacting on purpose — maybe the whole thing was an elaborate satire/parody? If so, how do you explain Blanchett, who was remarkable? But even her eye-rubbing Dylan impersonation becomes tiring after awhile. The movie is two hours and fifteen minutes long. The only thing that kept us in our seats was waiting to see what kind of crazy shit they were going to make Richard Gere do. I ran into a local movie guru at The Waiting Room afterward who told me she liked the film. It turns out that she’s a huge Dylan fan, and said if you weren’t hip to Dylan’s life story and “legends” you probably wouldn’t understand most of what filmmaker Todd Haynes was trying to do. She was right. Though I recently read Dylan’s autobiography, I know little else about him other than his music. So when Richard Gere rode a horse through “Halloween Town” — a Western movie back lot populated by people in costumes — I had no idea what was going on, nor why I should care. At least Gere didn’t try to mimic Dylan’s nasal drawl. The film’s highlight came during that Gere sequence, when Jim James and Calexico performed “Goin’ to Acapulco.” That, along with the cinematography and Blanchett’s eerie impersonation, almost made it worth sitting through the rest of the pointless, boring exercise. Almost. Well, not even almost.

More entertaining was McCarthy Trenching at The Waiting Room last night. In front of a pretty good-sized crowd (maybe 80?) Dan McCarthy and a drummer/keyboardist played a collection of dour, downcast acoustic folk songs that, to me, sounded like a combination of John Gorka and Kris Kristofferson. Pretty good stuff.

You might have noticed yesterday that I augmented my earlier post about tonight’s show at The Barley Street. Instead of Scott Roth, who canceled, Ted Stevens is joining Todd Grant, Cary Smith and Jake Bellows for a night of singer/songwriter fare. Now that the ice is melting, I suspect this will be a crowded show at the little hole-in-the-wall venue. Get there early.

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