Just for the record, I've always considered Todd Haynes to be a genius.
Sure, I was pretty down on Far From Heaven, his last film, but mostly because I thought he was better than the earthbound qualities of his homage to Douglas Sirk and the painfully closed off nature of small town America in the fifties. Haynes is, I think, the director working now with the most boundless of imaginations; he deserves to soar, and he's good at it. When we speak in such awed tones about Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story and its Barbie Doll players, it's because the audacity of the approach captured elements of the woman's story that a literal filming couldn't (and the one or two TV movies about Carpenter only underline the point). That film (which almost no one has or will see), his follow up Poison (based on stories by Jean Genet), the fascinating Safe and the dreamy Velvet Goldmine all speak to the capacity of film to dream, and dream big.
It's safe to say that no one, except Haynes could take all the elements that make up I'm Not There, his new meditation on "the lives of Bob Dylan" and make quite what he's made. Six actors playing the lead, multiple film stocks, occasional music, some performed by Dylan, some by others... and yet, what emerges transcends the ordinary constraints of a biographical picture and of music on film. I'm Not There is astonishing, brilliant, breathtaking in its scope, audacious in its approach. And most amazingly, it is easily one of the most entertaining movis I've seen, about a subject I could never have expected to find so interesting. In a just world, this kind of genius would be the sort that Oscars are made for.
In the real world, of course, they're not. But when Haynes gets that Oscar - and with I'm Not There, I now know that he will, one day - we can all know that this film was the reason why.