“It’s far too easy to dismiss what Cate Blanchett does in ‘I’m Not There’ as nothing but mimicry. Even if it had been just the mimicry, I think Blanchett would have deserved praise for her daring, not to mention for the precision of her performance. She doesn’t just look like [Bob] Dylan, she moves like him, talks like him, laughs like him. She nails his exterior, down to the unkempt fingernails.
“But her performance is extraordinary because she goes past the exterior and offers glimpses of what’s underneath. She manages to capture what made Dylan so fascinating and so seductive in that time, androgynous and off-putting, but magnetic. And most importantly, she lets the audience see — and even feel — just how uncomfortable Dylan was in his own skin. Her Jude is constantly in motion, constantly struggling against definition, frantically wiggling to escape the boxes people tried to fit him into. He’s on top of the world, but unlike most characters in biopics he seems aware that there’s always a downfall.”
— Hedwig Van Driel, writing on the Muriel Awards, Feb. 23 at the film blog Silly Hats Only (https://opalfilms.blogspot.com)
“The mind-set is familiar. Complicate things. For the partisan of complexity, honesty/dishonesty presumably exemplifies antiquated binary thinking. To identify something as ‘binary’ in a university seminar not only damns it but demonstrates the superiority of the speaker. …
“To defend binary thinking is to invite opprobrium. It is true that fixed oppositions between good and evil or male and female and a host of other contraries cannot be upheld, but this hardly means that binary logic is itself idiotic.
“Binary logic structures the very computers on which most attacks on binary logic are composed. Some binary distinctions are worth recognizing, if not celebrating: the distinction, let us say, between pregnant and not pregnant, or between life and death. Others are at least worth noticing — for example, that between a red and a green light. You either have $3.75 for a latte or you do not. Can that be ‘complicated’?”
— Russell Jacoby, writing on “Not to Complicate Matters, But …” in the Feb. 29 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education Review
All or nothing
“[Barack] Obama is such a high-risk, high-reward candidate for the Dems. He has the potential to do for the Democratic Party what Reagan did for the GOP in ‘80 — to win a lopsided victory in which a slew of previously wavering independents and politically unformed twentysomethings end up branding themselves as Democrats for a generation.
“That’s the good news; the bad news is that if he doesn’t win a lopsided victory among independents and young voters — if the bloom comes off the rose or the glass jaw starts to crack — he has the potential to hemorrhage votes in key constituencies: among downscale voters; among seniors (where I suspect the ‘wouldn’t vote for an African-American’ constituency is concentrated); among hawkish and extremely pro-Israel Dems; and even among white women. Which is to say, he could win in a walk, or lose thanks to heavy defections from groups that would have trended Democratic had Hillary been the nominee.”
— Ross Douthat, writing on “Obama’s Democrat Problem,” at his blog at the Atlantic (https://rossdouthat. theatlantic.com)