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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Just Like A Woman

Cate Blanchett to play Dylan in biopic

by Alfons LunaWed May 24, 5:47 PM ET

Cate Blanchett will play Bob Dylan in his "androgenous phase" in a new biopic of the great poet-songwriter's life, it was announced, as Dylan turned 65.

But even as he shows up everywhere in books, films and even a Broadway musical, Dylan, who has sought seclusion and mystery all his life, remains as enigmatic as ever.

Dylan has clearly shrugged off retirement age, taking on a new job as a radio DJ, publishing a selection of his memoirs, musing in a Martin Scorcese documentary, authorizing a stage musical with his songs -- and appearing in an advert for the Victoria's Secret lingerie store chain.

And on Dylan's birthday, the Hollywood press reported that Blanchett would be among several actors -- also including "Brokeback Mountain" star Heath Ledger and Richard Gere -- to portray the great American folksinger in a film.

Yet the exposure is adding as many layers to his mystery as it is giving fans more insight into the composer of classics such as "Like A Rolling Stone", "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are A-Changin'".

Mystery surrounds the coming biographical film on Dylan by director Todd Haynes, who earlier took great liberties with the life of rock star David Bowie in his 1998 movie "Velvet Goldmine".
Now he is recruiting an all-star cast for his Dylan film "I'm Not There", in which six or seven actors will play the star to show different facets of his life and personality. Dylan has agreed to let Haynes film his biography.

But Dylan's penchant for hiding from publicity and attention has meant that all of the new biographical material, even his own book, have only made him more enigmatic.

A passage in his 2004 autobiography "Chronicles, Volume 1", explains his horrified reaction to fame and exaggerated image in the 1960s: when he was introduced at Princeton University as "the disturbed conscience of Young America", he said could only think, "Oh Sweet Jesus! ... I was so mad I wanted to bite myself."

When he found fans flocking to his Woodstock, New York home in the 1960s, he said, "I wanted to set fire to these people."

"Roadmaps to our homestead must have been posted in all fifty states for gangs of dropouts and druggies," he wrote.

Through the book Dylan refused to provide details on what many readers wanted to know about -- his 1966 motorcycle accident, his love affair with fellow folk star Joan Baez, his controversial move to "go electric".

Though tantalizing, Scorcese's documentary late last year was hardly more revealing about what Dylan himself thinks.

Still, there is more Dylan-mania to come. The Twyla Tharp musical "The Times They Are A-Changin'" will open this summer on Broadway. It is about a drunk named Captain Arab -- a character from a Dylan song -- whose traveling troupe sings out some of Dylan's greatest hits.
While on a tour of the United States, Dylan has also started hosting his own show of his favorite songs on XM, a US satellite radio network. Each week he plays an eclectic list of songs linked to a theme he has chosen, like Mother's Day or the climate.

Showing his broad tastes, in the first show, dedicated to the weather, he played Jimi Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary", Judy Garland singing "Come rain or Come Shine", and "Blow Wind Blow" by Frank Sinatra.

Some at first worried about how the show would sound since Dylan's mumbling and growling voice can be unintelligible at times.

"Yes, you can understand Dylan on radio better than you can in concert," wrote Chicago Sun-Times reviewer Dave Hoekstra.

"The show's main challenge will be to keep the music as fascinating as its host."

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