In the mid-aughts, it felt like every Tom, Dick, or Harriet who had ever picked up a guitar had a biopic bestowed upon them— Ray Charles (Ray), Joy Division‘s Ian Curtis (Control), and even California punk band The Germs (What We Do is Secret). That Bob Dylan’s story would make it to the big screen was inevitable; that it would be as mercurial as its subject was unlikely. Yet, Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There managed to be just that: a non-linear, engaging spectacle as taciturn and delightfully pretentious as Zimmerman himself. Screening within a career retrospective of Mr. Haynes—whose subversive first attempt at film biography came in 1987 with the Barbie-inspired Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story—I’m Not There eschews the formulaic rise and fall template for moody set pieces, nameless characters and intentionally jarring casting. It doesn’t all work, but the same can be said for Dylan’s discography. When done right—see Cate Blanchett’s bloody turn at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival—it captures the same indescribable cool that transcends genre.
The film shows at 9:10 p.m. tonight, 2:30 p.m. Saturday, and 8:45 p.m. Tuesday at the AFI Silver Theatre, 8663 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring. $11. www.afi.com/silver.