Cate Blanchett as one of many Bob Dylans in "I'm Not There"
Robert Redford, director and co-star of "Lions for Lambs"
I had hoped to post at least briefly last night but had technical difficulties. Probably just as well, since I was a little weary, but I had a few brief comments about the movies illustrated above. ...
Monday afternoon, I saw "I'm Not There," the weird if occasionally dazzling movie by Todd Haynes, with an array of actors including Cate Blanchett, above, Heath Ledger and Richard Gere as aspects of Bob Dylan. Not as odd as some of Haynes's work (this is, after all, a filmmaker who did a film about Karen Carpenter using Barbie dolls), and a nifty way to deal with Dylan.
More details about it later, but I wanted to mention it now because of what I saw Monday night: "Lions for Lambs," the new movie directed by Robert Redford and starring a not-shabby trio of Redford, Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep.
While I have a lot of thoughts about it, for now I'll make a couple of points: First, Redford and/or screenwriter Matthew Michael Carnahan (who also wrote "The Kingdom," directed by Peter Berg, who acts in "Lions for Lambs") must have seen a lot of Stanley Kramer movies at some point. Second, a movie with a lot of ideas does not have to be a movie with a lot of talking.
But as I was driving home last night, I was also thinking that I had been spending a day dealing with icons and iconography, with Dylan and Redford. "I'm Not There" is more explicit on this score, of course, since it is directly addressing the question of who Dylan is -- of how many Dylans there are, of how different songs come from different places, of the idea that "I don't know who I am most of the time."
Then there's Redford, who for those of us of a certain age is a movie icon, a representative of the collision between old-style Hollywood looks and Vietnam-era political idealism -- in other words, the prototype for George Clooney.
But Redford is now 71, grandfatherly to the young college student he talks to in the movie, and asking, implicitly and explicitly, if young people learned nothing from what Redford's generation did. And, in a way, Redford is talking to himself; the student is a logical extension of Redford's character in "The Candidate," the guy who fights to be elected and forgets everything he believes in along the campaign trail. "What do we do now?" he asks at the end of "The Candidate" and his youthful sounding board in "Lions for Lambs" has answered, "Nothing."
But I'm talking much longer than I had planned to here. As I said, I have a lot of thoughts about "Lions for Lambs," and still more about "I'm Not There." Still, seeing the movies on the same day just added to those ideas, because it pushed two important figures next to each other.