Saturday, January 26, 2008

Went to the press screening of "Don't Look Back" on Thursday, was amused to see how much of that film was used as a template for the Jude Quinn section of "I'm Not There"; have seen the film before, but remembered that, in the 1960s when i saw it, there was something very distressing in the highhandedness with which Bob Dylan seemed to deal with people. But when the film was rereleased in the 1990s, it seemed different somehow... and what's interesting is that the press kit that was prepared had a lot of the reviews from that late '90s revival, and the terms that so many critics used (Hoberman, Matt Zoller Seitz, John Anderson) are the terms that provide the raison d'etre for "I'm Not There". One of the funny things: in his review in Newsday, John Anderson says, "an exchange with a Time magazine writer, which probably seemed subversive then, now seems terribly bratty and, worse, sophomoric", but the fact is, even when "Don't Look Back" was originally released, there were many who felt that Dylan wasn't being cool, but bratty and smug.

But i enjoyed "Don't Look Back" even more this time.

Yesterday, simply watched a bunch of mystery shows: "Monk", "Psych", "Marple: A Murder Is Announced", and "Rosemary and Thyme". "Psych" was particularly clever.

Today, finally received the Independent Spirit Award ballot and information. Can't find the way to access the Netflix queue, but went online and found out that i can stream the films. Have seen most of them....

The voting has changed! Now, you take the ballot, and you check your choice. In the past, it was a weighted ballot, where you gave "1" to your top choice, "2" to your second choice, and so on, until you finished the five nominees. This meant that, if you wanted to vote on all five nominees, you were supposed to see all five films. But this way, it's simply a vote for your favorite. I have to say this (and no, i'm not revealing my vote) but in some categories, it's really tough for me. For example: Best Director. Well: i know four of the five nominees. Todd Haynes for "I'm Not There", Tamara Jenkins for "The Savages", Julian Schnabel for "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly", and Gus Van Sant for "Paranoid Park". The only person i don't know is Jason Reitman for "Juno".

This year, i'm not going to be surprised: at this time, when "Juno" is an indie which is nearing the $100 million mark at the box office (and that's just US domestic!), if it doesn't sweep at the Independent Spirit Awards, i don't know my fellow IFP and Film Independent members!

But just to get back to the people i know: i think that Tamara did a good job with a very sharp script (which she wrote herself), and it shows her particular sense of humor (which was present way back when she did that short "Family Remains") and the timing is really crisp. I think that "Paranoid Park" is almost supernally elegant, and the dissonance between the formalized style and the subject matter is eerie and emotionally potent, and Gus Van Sant really knows what he is doing.

I have to say that, no matter what i think of Julian Schnabel, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" is just superbly done, stylish and enticing and directed with real flair and imagination. And i think that Todd has really gotten it together in "I'm Not There": all the themes and obsessions from his past films are now taken over in this one film, and it is an exhilarating pastiche.

As for "Juno": it's the one real feel-good comedy of the year, and now there is a backlash, but before that... it's the kind of indie-comedy that i'm usually suspicious of, but i was more taken with it than i was with (say) "Little Miss Sunshine" and it's clever and done with panache and sentiment. And Jason Reitman's direction was just on the money: he made sure that the timing was spot-on, and it seemed as if every laugh line hit its target.

But that's why it's tough...


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