I'm Not There [Music From The Motion Picture]
As a soundtrack for his forthcoming Bob Dylan movie I'm Not There, director Todd Haynes has assembled an impressive array of musicians young and old to provide cover versions and re-workings of their favourite Dylan tracks.
Much like the Wylde Rattz project for Hayne's previous rock biopic Velvet Goldmine, supergroup "The Million Dollar Bashers" (featuring Lee Ranaldo, Steve Shelley, Nels Cline and Tom Verlaine among others) back many of the singers, and were put together to bring some cohesiveness to the album. As a cohesive album however, I'm Not There fails conclusively. Clocking in at a whopping 160 minutes, the jam-packed double CD is simply far too long - eclipsing the sprawling White Album and making Red Hot Chili Pepper's 2006 opus Stadium Arcadium seem like a couple of bonus tracks.
Taken as a collection of individual tracks however, the album provides a wealth of ammo for the mixtape masses with more than a few silver bullets in the arsenal. With such great material in the hands of these artists it would have been a tragedy for this album to be a faliure, but cover songs have always been a hit or miss affair - with the artists often taking one of two methods of attack when approaching the material. The most effective method here seems to be the straightforward approach, letting the bands own sound soak through the material. Sonic Youth's understated cover of I'm Not there is a highlight, as are Steven Malkmus' multiple contributions adding only a few restrained theatrics to produce some of his best work.
Black Keys provide one successful modernisation with their fuzz metal version of The Wicked Messenger, but The Hold Steady's version of Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window tries too hard to fit Dylan's square song into the band's story-telling style of a round hole. Not to mention Sufjan Steven's overblown theatrics, which make Ring Them Bells (what else?) smugly saccharine. Eddie Vedder's All Along The Watchtower would make for a live concert highlight, but it sounds pretty straightforward here - as does Cat Power's solid, but karaoke-like cover of Stuck Inside of Mobile - following Dylan's version down to the tiniest vocal shift, in a way that even he refuses to do in his live show.
Some minor disappointments come from artists who have covered Dylan's work so well previously - such as Pearl Jam's version of Masters Of War or Jim James' superb Billy 4. Jim James covers Goin' To Acapulco on this album, which is a mild let-down when My Morning Jacket could have done a blistering version of something like Hurricane - particularly after they so perfectly blended their own heavy rocking style into Freebird in the woeful Elizabethtown movie.
For all of this, it's the breadth of Dylan's songwriting that is the star of the show - with 70's cowboy-era Dylan coming out particularly well. Calexico's multiple contribution's provide much of that, as do Los Lobos' spirited break for the border with Billy 1. It's when the musicians' really grasp the spirit of the songs that things really work - and while Cat Power's uninspired rendering illustrates Dylan's occasionally drawn out verses, John Doe's version of Pressing On and Ramblin' Jack Elliot's guitar picking on Tom Thumb's Blues provide a celebration of the music itself, rather than just the lyrics.
34 tracks picked from Dylan's catalogue of literally hundreds is in itself quite an achievement, resulting in an album so dense that it's taken me an extra week just to get to grips with it all. If it was actual Dylan versions it might be up their with Mothership in this year's best of (disqualified on a best-of technicality). And in fact, since hearing this album I have drawn up such a playlist, which is working out nicely.
20th Nov 2007 - Tumblr3
Hallam Foe - Original Soundtrack
Ciao My Shining Star: The Songs Of Mark Mulcahy
Peanut Butter Wolf Presents...Chrome Children
You Don't Know
Rough Trade Shops - Counter Culture 07
Dogs In Space OST
Muddled biopic with occasional moments of eccentric comedy madness.
22nd Sep 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Like a long episode of Girls that’s all about one of the more boring characters.
16th Sep 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Slightly confused slice of post-Michael Mann LA crime.
7th Sep 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Sympathetic retread of Single White Female, with added #hashtags.
26th Aug 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Welcome to the Jungle
Fun updated reboot with added Breakfast Club.
26th Aug 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Low-tide mark for super hero movies. I only finished watching to see how bad it could get.
14th Aug 2018Read more 1 star reviews
It’s a cover version of every other Mallick pic, but the setting is inspired and the improv from Gosling is enjoyably enthusiastic.
8th Aug 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Well written, well paced sequel. Surprisingly competent and heartwarming.
4th Aug 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
70s pot boiler that lazily meanders through a series of mediocre set pieces.
23rd Jul 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Enjoyable change of pace for the super hero genre. Comedy wins.
21st Jul 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Great concept, but shoddily directed and utterly devoid of jeopardy.
17th Jul 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Small scale wartime espionage flick. Decent, but a bit laboured.
15th Jul 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Sub Roland Emmerich swill, with Gerard Butler saving the world from crazy weather.
13th Jul 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Derivative but fun romp through 80s CIA drug and gun running.
12th Jul 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Brutally sincere, painfully thin yakuza flick. Jared Leto goes full Gaijin.
6th Jul 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Huge misfire from Tomas Alfredson, with a multitude of bizarre choices. Like a bad 80's VHS rental.
6th Jul 2018Read more 1.5 star reviews
Brutally violent, post-Tarantino western. It’s all a bit mechanical.
2nd Jun 2018Read more 3 star reviews
A Star Wars Story
Reasonable, forgettable addition. Overfilling that mysterious back story.
1st Jun 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Lazy double-crossing spy drama, directed with a certain amount of swagger.
24th May 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Stylish, incredibly depressing portrait of life on the margins.
12th May 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Minimally written and confidently directed, with a brutally violent third act. Starring thin Vince Vaughn.
4th May 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Unofficial sequel to The Last Detail. Surprisingly slight effort from Linklater.
29th Apr 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Another tired entry, trotting out the same old tropes, plus new nonsensical gibberish.
13th Apr 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
The Last Jedi
Every moment is undermined by a gag and the few serious scenes are sloppily handled.
13th Apr 2018Read more 2 star reviews
A third crack at Spider-man. Fun-ish, but it’s zero-stakes, zero-jeopardy. Bit smug too.
31st Mar 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Another garish super-hero flick. Slightly above average, mainly by being more old-fashioned.
30th Mar 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Overly dry, eccentric western. Jarmuschian overtones.
16th Mar 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Incredible, tense, original thriller. A western with snowmobiles.
14th Mar 2018Read more 4 star reviews
Career retrospective doc that keeps it fun and doesn’t outstay it’s welcome.
11th Mar 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Blockbuster-by-numbers as Universal clumsily attempt to build a franchise.
24th Feb 2018Read more 2 star reviews
The Story of Mudhoney
Unsurprising history run-down, enlivened by the band’s ferociously DIY attitude.
21st Feb 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Some good ideas, buried by shambolic direction and storytelling.
20th Feb 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Intense, eerie thriller that’s surprisingly straightforward and a little old-fashioned.
30th Jan 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Disappointingly slow, underdeveloped and literal monster metaphor from Nacho Vigalondo.
27th Jan 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Long, but moving and stylishly directed period drama. Fantastic cinematography.
15th Jan 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Grown-up superhero flick. Handled far better than most, but ridiculously violent.
6th Jan 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Slated by the critics, this is a stylish, slight, small movie - with two massive stars in it.
6th Jan 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Fun, original take on an otherwise ageing property. Apocalypse Now meets Watchmen.
5th Jan 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Clunky Brit thriller that telegraphs every one of its sub-Hitchcockian twists, despite the decent premise.
3rd Jan 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Stylish, fast-paced, amusing antidote to the endless stream of generic superhero movies.
27th Dec 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Disappointingly slight award winner, that doesn’t find its stride until 10 minutes from the end.
27th Dec 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Left-field genre mash-up that pitches itself just right. Solid action, good humour. Thoroughly enjoyable.
25th Dec 2017Read more 4 star reviews
Bleak, real-time journey through the realities of living on benefits.
25th Dec 2017Read more 3 star reviews
The Last Jedi
Shambolic sequel that squanders the promising set up from JJ, plus 40 year… https://t.co/SdXpv8B5hj.
21st Dec 2017Read more star reviews
The Extra Terrestial
Kids on BMXs sticking it to the man. What could be better.
19th Dec 2017Read more 5 star reviews
Lifeless sci-fi horror. Gravity meets Piranha.
12th Dec 2017Read more 2 star reviews
Disappointingly flat and uninsightful documentary from Michael Almerayda.
5th Dec 2017Read more 2.5 star reviews
Amiable, zero jeopardy comedy from Soderbergh. Slightly unsure what it’s trying to be.
2nd Dec 2017Read more 3 star reviews
Another thoughtful biographical effort from Mike Mills. Stylish but a little long and sprawling.
25th Nov 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews