Masked and Anonymous

By Mark Cappuccio

The near future, America is torn apart by civil war and the only thing that might help is musician Jack Fate (Bob Dylan) playing at a benefit concert arranged by the shady Uncle Sweetheart (John Goodman) in order to try and bring some much needed peace to the ravaged war torn nation. But with dodgy reporter Tom Friend (Jeff Bridges) on the case and some evil TV bosses trying to poke their noses into the concert arrangements can fate succeed or will the end of the good old us really come about?

This new film, co-written by Bob Dylan and Larry Charles and directed by Charles, is an enjoyable romp through some of Dylan’s songs old and new set against a paper-thin story that is really only there to give dylan a chance to play live. This is no bad thing as the amount of actors appearing in it is staggering and would cost a casting director millions of dollars to get them all in a real Hollywood film. It is obvious that this was done on the cheap as it looks like it was shot on DV and seems very independent in style. It also is a vanity project for Dylan and an excuse for his Hollywood fans to appear in a movie with him, probably working for little or nothing.

So who do we get then? Well Chris Penn, Ed Harris, Val Kilmer, Mickey Rourke and Christian Slater all pop up, along with a sleazy turn from Goodman as Uncle Sweetheart and the still seriously sexy Jessica Lange as the TV talent agent. Bridges seems to have stumbled straight out of the set of The Big Lebowski he's so obviously stuck playing the dude! But no mind, as the film ambles along at a leisurely pace with more stars popping up every opportunity meaning you never get bored; the musical interludes from legend Dylan are always welcome.

This is worth parting with your cash for if you’re a Dylan fan (or not) as the music is great and the cast will probably never appear on screen together like this ever again. The story is fun and simple and works well in its limited confines and raises a smile throughout. Even Dylan does well though his role is really just a version of himself, grumpy enough to be watchable and to hold the story together. Buy this, pour yourself a Jack Daniels and sit back and soak up the madness.
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