There are a few straight-from-the-shoulder statements, one or two feints and some very careful posturings in John Anderson‘s 8.21 N.Y. Times piece about Todd Haynes‘ I’m Not There. But it’s all in the service of a good cause, which is to modify the thinking of those who are going, “Wow, I’m Not There is opening at the Film Forum? Isn’t that almost the same as opening it at the Nuart?
Some highlights: (a) Harvey Weinstein‘s decision to open this mystery-of-Bob Dylan film in only two Manhattan theatres — Film Forum and some other venue — and two in Los Angeles on 11.21 has made the release plan “something of a curiosity,” Anderson notes, since it’s getting “the kind of debut that might be afforded a Mexican documentary.”
(b) “With a movie like this you have to build it,” Harvey tells John. “I don’t think you can go out on 500 screens. The reason for Film Forum is you go where the best word of mouth is on the movie. I like the movie; I think it’s adventurous.” (Positive energy! Safety lines and hiking boots!) The audience is going to have to work– work in a good way.” (We can work it out? No, that’s the Beatles.)
(c) “I have a tendency to start small and go big. If we threw this movie out wide, I don’t know what it would do. I think we have to start somewhere. I’m going to play every major city in the United States with this movie. I’ll play 100 cities, at least.”
(d) Harvey adds, “I may be jumping the gun, but if Cate Blanchett [one of the six “Dylan’s] doesn’t get nominated, I’ll shoot myself.”
(e) The film, says Anderson, “sometimes looks like A Hard Day’s Night, elsewhere like McCabe and Mrs. Miller” and has been “shot in styles that correspond to each Dylan epoch, imbuing Dylan’s life with mythic American qualities.” Hey, sounds cool.
(f) I’m Not There, Anderson interprets, is “not purely about making money but about an obligation to have important movies distributed. “That’s the story of my life,” says Harvey. “That’s exactly what I believe in. I’m Not There and some of the tougher stuff — it’s not going to be The Nanny Diaries, you know.” (Did I interpret that right?) “But I’ve been very fortunate that what I’ve believed in has worked, and even when it doesn’t work, we make money in other areas to cover that. It is my responsibility and, more importantly, it’s my passion.”
This is the old Harvey talking, and that’s finally a heartening thing. (Patrick Goldstein will be pleased.) After all is said and spun, it’s reason enough to be there for I’m Not There.
The L.A. bookings will be at the Landmark and the Arclight.