Eat the Document
Friday, November 27, 2015
Make it a double feature with I’m Not There and save!
Bob Dylan directed one of cinema’s strangest poetic reveries (Renaldo and Clara), contributed to many of the best film soundtracks of the past half-century, and figured centrally in two of the great rock ’n’ roll documentaries (Don’t Look Back and No Direction Home), but his ultimate cinematic testament is this blissful, digressive chronicle of his 1966 UK tour with The Hawks (soon to be The Band) immediately following his debilitating motorcycle accident. Dylan presided over the shoot and edited the footage, mostly provided by Don’t Look Back’s mastermind D.A. Pennebaker, into a rapid-fire, associative blur of rehearsals, performances, and hangout sessions—including a jaw-dropping piano duet between Dylan and Johnny Cash. A central source text for I’m Not There, the never-released Eat This Document is as close as any movie comes to being a key to all Dylan mythologies—not least because it’s so rarely screened.
Assassins: A Film Concerning Rimbaud
Todd Haynes, USA, 1985, 16mm, 43m
Haynes’s choice to conflate Bob Dylan with Arthur Rimbaud in one of the six segments of I’m Not There wasn’t his first engagement with the great French poet. In this tongue-in-cheek, giddily fun short, made while Haynes was still a precocious undergraduate at Brown, Rimbaud comes off as a snotty Parisian vagabond equally informed by the birth of punk and the riots of May ’68. He enters the film quoting Genet, and as it goes on, Assassins emerges as a kind of catalog of the figures—literary, musical, and cinematic—who would inform Haynes’s sensibility for decades to come.