Thursday, July 24, 2003

THE ONLY WAY WE CAN PROTECT OURSELVES IS BY GOING MAD: Well, we're not going to be able to make fun of the Paris Hilton/Nicole Richie reality comedy "The Simple Life" (city slickers go to Arkansas) until the fall.

In the meantime, there's Bob Dylan's new movie Masked and Anonymous, about which much has been written, none of it good. For Zimmy, anyway.

Let's start with the Times' Tony Scott, mentioned on this blog for the second time today:
I did not see any cows at the screening, but only a many-stomached Bob Dylan fan could walk away from this film, which opens today nationwide, feeling well nourished. And some, undoubtedly, will. You may encounter people who tell you it's a stone masterpiece. The thing to do is nod politely. They mean no harm. For all I know, they may be right.

As a movie, "Masked & Anonymous," directed by Larry Charles, a master of the sitcom domain making his big-screen debut, is an unholy, incoherent mess. As a Bob Dylan artifact, though, it is endlessly, perhaps morbidly, fascinating.

Crossing the coast to the LA Times' Kevin Thomas, who calls it "a work of such pretentious self-indulgence":
With "Masked and Anonymous," director Larry Charles and Bob Dylan attempt an epic depiction of America in its death throes, taking their inspiration from the songs of Dylan. The movie, with a script attributed to Rene Fontaine and Sergei Petrov but actually by Charles and Dylan, attempts to be prophetic and put-on at the same time, thus falling into the ancient snare of trying to have it both ways — and being unable to pull it off. The look of the film is great, the soundtrack glorious, but more often than not the dialogue is atrocious, featuring a lot of long-winded gobbledygook.

Finally, The Onion A.V. Club's Keith Phipps makes enough points just by reviewing the "plot":
After a bus ride in which Giovanni Ribisi lays out the shifting tides of revolution and counter-revolution that direct whatever alternate universe contains the film, Dylan runs into Val Kilmer, who delivers a monologue about why animals are better than humans, then pretends to kill a rabbit. Meanwhile, journalist Jeff Bridges and girlfriend Penélope Cruz try to secure an interview with Dylan, then needle him about not appearing at Woodstock. Luke Wilson leaves his bartending job to bring Dylan a guitar belonging to Blind Lemon Jefferson, Mickey Rourke plays a power-mad generalissimo, Christian Slater and Chris Penn appear as wisecracking roadies, and the background is filled with extras dressed up as Gandhi, Lincoln, and Pope John Paul II. Eventually, Ed Harris shows up in blackface carrying a banjo to deliver a stern, puzzling monologue. Clearly, Dylan and Charles had ambitions beyond making two hours of nonsense, but they've succeeded at little more. . . . [Dylan's] an icon and he delivers an icon's performance, literally: He could easily have been replaced by piece of wood with his face painted on it. That distance also means he remains more or less untouched by the embarrassment going on around him, even though it's largely his own creation.

Let's repeat: Ed Harris shows up in blackface.

Do we have a picture? Yes. Will I post it? Of course:

Yeah, and you thought Milk Money was embarrassing.

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