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3 items from 2007


I'm Not There

3 September 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Venice International Film Festival

VENICE, Italy -- Todd Haynes' highly impressionistic docudrama "I'm Not There" is "inspired by the life and work of Bob Dylan," though pop's leading troubadour is not mentioned, barely seen and not heard very much in the production.

Instead, an eclectic mix of actors including Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Richard Gere portray characters whose lives run parallel to or are informed by Dylan's life. There's plenty of the singer-songwriter's music on hand but sung by others. Filled with incidents that echo famous moments in Dylan's life, the goal is to summarize all the disparate elements in his career.

A long film, at 135 minutes, it's difficult to see who the prime audience will be for the picture, screened in competition at the Venice Film Festival. It's a curiosity that could delight or turn off loyal Dylan fans and may prove too oddball to draw in younger and mainstream audiences.

The guiding principal of Dylan's life is declared right at the start as a character who calls himself Woody Guthrie, an 11-year-old black guitar picker played by Marcus Carl Franklin, is advised to "live your own time, child, sing about your own time."

Woody rides the rails and tells stories about the days of the Depression, but in another incarnation, Jack Rollins (Bale), he starts to create the songs that stunned and inspired a generation.

The film jumps all over the place, introducing Arthur (Ben Whishaw), a view of the man as young poet, and then as an actor named Robbie (Ledger), who shows his romantic side. Many scenes are given over to Jude Quinn (Blanchett), the colorful, wisecracking Dylan from the '60s. But then it's back again to Bale, only now he's Pastor John, in a role that illustrates the performer's Christian conversion and decade as a gospel singer.

Finally, there is a passage about Billy the Kid (Gere), who survives his encounter with Sheriff Pat Garrett to live a quiet life in a place named Riddle until events conspire to bring him to public attention again.

Haynes directs all of these people and places with great flair, helped immensely by cinematographer Edward Lachman and his mostly inspired cast. Whishaw, an intense young British stage actor, speaks directly to the camera, while Bale inhabits both the younger Dylan and the religious convert with typical concentration.

Gere is effective in the Western sequence, though that segment's relevance is difficult to grasp. True, Dylan co-starred in Sam Peckinpah's film about William Bonney.

The star of the show is undoubtedly Blanchett, who has great fun playing Dylan as a showboat who quite knowingly goes about creating his reputation for rebellious independence.

Randall Poster and Jim Dunbar put together the musical soundtrack, which features the obscure Dylan title track from "The Basement Tapes", which he recorded with the Band at Woodstock in 1967. There's also a new cover version by Sonic Youth.

The film is said to have the endorsement of Dylan, which must have taken some courage given the ragged edges of his life on display. But the film fits well with his singular ability to reinvent himself while really putting us nowhere nearer to fully understanding the man.

I'M NOT THERE

Killer Films

Director: Todd Haynes

Writers: Todd Haynes, Oren Moverman

Producers: Christine Vachon, James D. Stern, John Sloss, John Goldwyn

Director of photography: Edward Lachman

Production designer: Judy Becker

Music: Randall Poster, Jim Dunbar

Costume designer: John Dunn

Editor: Jay Rabinowitz

Cast:

Jack/Pastor John: Christian Bale

Jude: Cate Blanchett

Woody: Marcus Carl Franklin

Billy: Richard Gere

Robbie: Heath Ledger

Arthur: Ben Whishaw

Claire: Charlotte Gainsbourg

Allen Ginsberg: David Cross

Keenan Jones: Bruce Greenwood

Alice Fabian: Julianne Moore

Coco Rivington: Michelle Williams

MPAA rating R, running time 135 minutes

»

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Zodiac

23 February 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

This review was written for the theatrical release of "Zodiac".

The notorious San Francisco Bay Area serial killer might have eluded law enforcement agencies for decades, but the compelling cat-and-mouse story that is "Zodiac" never escapes the virtuoso grip of director David Fincher.

Firing on all cylinders as a creepy thriller, police procedural and "All the President's Men"-style investigative newsroom drama, the smart, extremely vivid production oozes period authenticity.

Factor in a highly capable cast led by Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo and a never better Robert Downey Jr., and you've got yourself a picture -- one that should handily nab audiences hungering for something a little more substantial than broad comedies or campy escapism.

Time and place are effectively established the first time we see the man known as Zodiac strike, during 1969 Fourth of July celebrations on a secluded lover's lane in Vallejo, Calif., where he walks up to a car and matter-of-factly fires at its occupants, fatally killing the driver and seriously injuring her male passenger.

Cut to the newsroom of the San Francisco Chronicle, where, a month later, a crudely written letter to the editor arrives in the mail from the man claiming responsibility for that shooting and an additional two murders.

His knowledge of certain details that only the police would know captures the attention of the paper's star crime reporter Paul Avery (Downey Jr.), while an enclosed portion of a cipher that purportedly offered clues to the killer's identity triggers what would become a lifelong obsession for Robert Graysmith (Gyllenhaal), a shy but intrepid editorial cartoonist who isn't content to live life on the sidelines.

Graysmith uses his not-so-spare time to work on cracking the code, when not hovering over the colorful Avery's desk trying to pick up additional shreds of information about the case.

Meanwhile, despite the dogged efforts of the San Francisco Police Department's high-profile homicide inspector, Dave Toschi (Ruffalo) and his partner, Inspector William Armstrong (Anthony Edwards), the murders mount and the letters keep coming as the years continue to pass without an arrest.

Fincher, who, as a child growing up in the Bay Area in the early '70s was well aware of the bogey man known as the Zodiac killer, has transformed those primal childhood fears into his most accomplished film to date, and his most fully contained effort since 1995's "Seven".

While those murders are staged for maximum chill, the story's newsroom and police department settings are equally effective. Working from a screenplay by James Vanderbilt (who is working on a screen adaptation of "Against All Enemies", the memoir by former terrorism czar Richard Clarke), based on Graysmith's book, Fincher keeps all the components neatly integrated.

He also uses clever visual touches to mark the passing years, particularly a time-lapse sequence replicating the erection of San Francisco's iconic Transamerica Pyramid.

His cast is uniformly splendid, but if the Zodiac killer got away with murder, then Downey ought to be charged with grand theft larceny given how often steals his scenes away from his competent co-stars. It's a performance, along with Chris Cooper's in "Breach", that should be remembered when awards season comes around again.

While there are a few instances where the energy dips a bit in the 2 1/2-hour film (especially when Downey isn't around), things always manage to kick back into gear.

Behind the scenes, Harris Savides' digital photography really brings back the visual textures and color palettes of that late '60s-to-early '70s period, as does Donald Graham Burt's evocative production design and Casey Storm's costuming.

On the aural end, veteran composer David Shire takes on his first film assignment in several years with an appropriately moody score, while music supervisor Randall Poster deserves a special shout-out for a song selection that digs deeper than the usual top 10 offerings, incorporating psychedelic pop from the Animals, Big Brother & the Holding Company, Santana and Donovan to transporting effect.

ZODIAC

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures present a Phoenix Pictures production of a David Fincher film

Credits:

Director: David Fincher

Screenwriter: James Vanderbilt

Based on the book by: Robert Graysmith

Producers: Mike Medavoy, Arnold W. Messer, Bradley J. Fischer, James Vanderbilt, Cean Chaffin

Executive producer: Louis Phillips

Director of photography: Harris Savides

Production designer: Donald Graham Burt

Editor: Angus Wall

Costume designer: Casey Storm

Music: David Shire

Music supervisor: Randall Poster

Cast:

Robert Graysmith: Jake Gyllenhaal

Inspector David Toschi: Mark Ruffalo

Paul Avery: Robert Downey Jr.

Inspector William Armstrong: Anthony Edwards

Melvin Belli: Brian Cox

Sgt. Jack Mulanax: Elias Koteas

Melanie: Chloe Sevigny

Running time -- 157 minutes

MPAA rating: R »

Permalink | Report a problem


Zodiac

23 February 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

The notorious San Francisco Bay Area serial killer might have eluded law enforcement agencies for decades, but the compelling cat-and-mouse story that is "Zodiac" never escapes the virtuoso grip of director David Fincher.

Firing on all cylinders as a creepy thriller, police procedural and "All the President's Men"-style investigative newsroom drama, the smart, extremely vivid production oozes period authenticity.

Factor in a highly capable cast led by Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo and a never better Robert Downey Jr., and you've got yourself a picture -- one that should handily nab audiences hungering for something a little more substantial than broad comedies or campy escapism.

Time and place are effectively established the first time we see the man known as Zodiac strike, during 1969 Fourth of July celebrations on a secluded lover's lane in Vallejo, Calif., where he walks up to a car and matter-of-factly fires at its occupants, fatally killing the driver and seriously injuring her male passenger.

Cut to the newsroom of the San Francisco Chronicle, where, a month later, a crudely written letter to the editor arrives in the mail from the man claiming responsibility for that shooting and an additional two murders.

His knowledge of certain details that only the police would know captures the attention of the paper's star crime reporter Paul Avery (Downey Jr.), while an enclosed portion of a cipher that purportedly offered clues to the killer's identity triggers what would become a lifelong obsession for Robert Graysmith (Gyllenhaal), a shy but intrepid editorial cartoonist who isn't content to live life on the sidelines.

Graysmith uses his not-so-spare time to work on cracking the code, when not hovering over the colorful Avery's desk trying to pick up additional shreds of information about the case.

Meanwhile, despite the dogged efforts of the San Francisco Police Department's high-profile homicide inspector, Dave Toschi (Ruffalo) and his partner, Inspector William Armstrong (Anthony Edwards), the murders mount and the letters keep coming as the years continue to pass without an arrest.

Fincher, who, as a child growing up in the Bay Area in the early '70s was well aware of the bogey man known as the Zodiac killer, has transformed those primal childhood fears into his most accomplished film to date, and his most fully contained effort since 1995's "Seven".

While those murders are staged for maximum chill, the story's newsroom and police department settings are equally effective. Working from a screenplay by James Vanderbilt (who is working on a screen adaptation of "Against All Enemies", the memoir by former terrorism czar Richard Clarke), based on Graysmith's book, Fincher keeps all the components neatly integrated.

He also uses clever visual touches to mark the passing years, particularly a time-lapse sequence replicating the erection of San Francisco's iconic Transamerica Pyramid.

His cast is uniformly splendid, but if the Zodiac killer got away with murder, then Downey ought to be charged with grand theft larceny given how often steals his scenes away from his competent co-stars. It's a performance, along with Chris Cooper's in "Breach", that should be remembered when awards season comes around again.

While there are a few instances where the energy dips a bit in the 2 1/2-hour film (especially when Downey isn't around), things always manage to kick back into gear.

Behind the scenes, Harris Savides' digital photography really brings back the visual textures and color palettes of that late '60s-to-early '70s period, as does Donald Graham Burt's evocative production design and Casey Storm's costuming.

On the aural end, veteran composer David Shire takes on his first film assignment in several years with an appropriately moody score, while music supervisor Randall Poster deserves a special shout-out for a song selection that digs deeper than the usual top 10 offerings, incorporating psychedelic pop from the Animals, Big Brother & the Holding Company, Santana and Donovan to transporting effect.

ZODIAC

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures present a Phoenix Pictures production of a David Fincher film

Credits:

Director: David Fincher

Screenwriter: James Vanderbilt

Based on the book by: Robert Graysmith

Producers: Mike Medavoy, Arnold W. Messer, Bradley J. Fischer, James Vanderbilt, Cean Chaffin

Executive producer: Louis Phillips

Director of photography: Harris Savides

Production designer: Donald Graham Burt

Editor: Angus Wall

Costume designer: Casey Storm

Music: David Shire

Music supervisor: Randall Poster

Cast:

Robert Graysmith: Jake Gyllenhaal

Inspector David Toschi: Mark Ruffalo

Paul Avery: Robert Downey Jr.

Inspector William Armstrong: Anthony Edwards

Melvin Belli: Brian Cox

Sgt. Jack Mulanax: Elias Koteas

Melanie: Chloe Sevigny

Running time -- 157 minutes

MPAA rating: R

»

Permalink | Report a problem


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3 items from 2007


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