Monday, September 28, 2015

Masked and Anonymous

Year 7, Day 271 - 9/28/15 - Movie #2,163

BEFORE: John Goodman carries over again from "Inside Llewyn Davis", and since there was just a little bit of Bob Dylan stuff at the end of that film, next up is a film with the real Bob Dylan in it.  I got this to put on a DVD with "Get on Up", that film about James Brown - and for a while I had it in between a couple other films with Penelope Cruz, but I needed to find 10 films that would connect the end of the McConnaughey chain with the start of the October horror chain.  There will be some bouncing around of subject matter over the next few days, but it's necessary to maintain the actor linking.  

THE PLOT:  A singer, whose career has gone on a downward spiral, is forced to make a comeback to the performance stage for a benefit concert.

AFTER: Wow, this was a tough one to get through.  It was hard to discern exactly what the story was, other than the fact that it was about a singer putting on a benefit concert.  But there's also a lot of political stuff, since this is (apparently) set in a near-future society with totalitarian rule, thus giving it the ability to comment on the decay inherent to a chaotic world, and the anarchy associated with political regimes.  OK, so I cheated and looked up the meaning of this film on Wikipedia, I admit that I got NONE of that from viewing it.

Bob Dylan does NOT play Bob Dylan in this film, which in itself is a disappointment.  He plays Jack Fate, a singer who's in prison in this future society, but he gets released to perform at a benefit concert.  (But for a guy who's not Bob Dylan, he sure knows a lot of Bob Dylan songs...)  Why is he in prison?  Who knows?  The film depicts the back-stage maneuverings of managers, promoters, press and various hangers-on as the concert is planned and performed.  

Characters have names like "Uncle Sweetheart", "Tom Friend" and "Bobby Cupid", and there's a lot of terrible dialogue, consisting mainly of aphorisms and little bits of wisdom like "It ain't easy being human." or "All of us are trying to kill time.  When all is said and done, time ends up killing us."  Ugh, please spare me all this folksy advice.  If there's a point that got made under all these stupid sayings and pointless violence, I sure couldn't tell what it was.

As with "Inside Llewyn Davis", I guess I was hoping for something more autobiographical about Bob Dylan himself.  Because that's a movie that I'd really find fascinating - movies like "I'm Not There" have sort of skirted around telling Dylan's exact story, and it's a story I'd like to see told one day.  Without it, I'm left to think of Dylan as some kind of weirdo or hermit, or perhaps a very private person in a very public occupation.  

But I say, if you want to make a concert film, make a concert film.  This idea of surrounding a concert film with a narrative, with the musical artist playing a character, seems really ill-advised, like it's a throwback to the 1980's, when Styx basically killed the format of the long-form music video with their futuristic "Mr. Roboto" ideas.  All that Dennis DeYoung B.S. about a future society controlled by robots, and the "Kilroy Was Here" album - what a bunch of crap.  The only other long-form music video I know of is that "Trapped in the Closet" crap, and that's a narrative mess also. 

Also starring Bob Dylan, Jeff Bridges (last seen in "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot"), Jessica Lange (last seen in "Crimes of the Heart"), Luke Wilson (last seen in "Stuck on You"), Penelope Cruz (last seen in "Head in the Clouds"), Angela Bassett (last seen in "This Means War"), Mickey Rourke (last seen in "The Rainmaker"), Val Kilmer (last seen in "Alexander"), Giovanni Ribisi (last seen in "A Million Ways to Die in the West"), Bruce Dern (last seen in "Nebraska"), Ed Harris (last seen in "the Face of Love"), with cameos from Chris Penn (last seen in "Mulholland Falls"), Christian Slater (last seen in "The Contender"), Michael Paul Chan, Cheech Marin (last seen in "The Great White Hype"), Fred Ward (last seen in "Henry & June"), Tracey Walter (last seen in "Goin' South")

RATING: 3 out of 10 liquor bottles

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