Masked & Anonymous

"Bad"

Masked & Anonymous Review


Masked & Anonymous, as a title, comes across as a vague, artsy moniker as inaccessible as the film it represents. But look closer at the name of this movie about revolution and despair, and you'll discover a clear reference to the film's writers; credited as Rene Fontaine and Sergei Petrov, the screenwriters have been unmasked, as it were, revealed to be the film's iconic star, Bob Dylan, and director Larry Charles (HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm).

The result of this combination is an overly ambitious film that's as muddled and cryptic as a mumble-filled Dylan vocal. Dylan stars as the symbolically named Jack Fate, an apparent musical legend, jailed in the midst of a brutally downtrodden America where the government has taken over, war is rampant, and even the counter-revolutionaries have counter-revolutionaries.

Fate is freed and called to play in a "benefit concert" as the show's only performer by a sleazy, selfish unkempt promoter named Uncle Sweetheart (John Goodman). Masked & Anonymous takes us on Fate's long journey to the gig, interspersing a Hollywood All-Star Revue of actors playing roles ranging from useless-and-tiny (Christian Slater, Bruce Dern, Fred Ward) to small-but-purposeful (Angela Bassett, Mickey Rourke). What shows up on screen is a baffling mishmash of vignettes, all scripted with a pseudo-philosophical mumbo-jumbo that drains the film of any energy or insight.

I gather that the film is supposed to trigger memories of the idealism of Dylan's music and its era (good lord, every character in this movie has a high-minded idealism). But the dialogue makes the cast sound like soapbox philosophers rather than concerned thinkers. Even a group of actors as deep and talented as this can't read these lines with the gravity and dark humor that was intended; instead, everyone just sounds enormously self-indulgent. Dylan, a superb, thoughtful lyricist, tries to infuse the film with the hope, playfulness and melancholy of his songs, and therein lies the problem: perhaps the words sound so ridiculous because they're not set to music.

Appropriately, the actual musical performances provide the most enjoyable scenes in the film. Charles shoots Dylan (or Fate, if you must) and his band in clear, warm stage lighting, sticking with a single camera for each song. These numbers -- inserted throughout the film with little regard to the accompanying narrative -- provide a wonderful combination of excitement and serenity. Considering Dylan's stature and longevity, the recording of these songs is easily the most important aspect of a film drowning in self-importance.

Dylan's presence might explain why so many big names joined this project: when most of the ensemble cast heard that Bob Dylan was making a film in which he would perform, that was probably all they needed to hear. In fact, the movie's press notes brag about the gang of actors that gathered to watch Dylan shoot his onstage scenes. If this was indeed the determining factor for the actors, then Masked & Anonymous really is the self-serving hyper-idealized drivel that it appears to be on the screen.

Reports from a couple of film festivals reveal that, when faced with questions regarding the authors of Masked & Anonymous, Larry Charles has a generally sly reply. At Sundance, he proclaimed, "We don't talk about the writing of this movie." Good idea.

Acid tan. That explains everything.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 16 mins

Production compaines: BBC Films, Intermedia Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

IMDB: 5.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Jack Fate, as Tom Friend, as Pagan Lace, as Uncle Sweetheart, as Nina Veronica, as Bobby Cupid, as Animal Wrangler, as Mistress, as Edgar, as Guard, as Editor, as Oscar Vogel, as Prospero, as Crew Guy #2, as Soldier, as Edmund, Richard C. Sarafian as President (as Richard Sarafian), as Crew Guy #1, as Ella the Fortune Teller, as Drunk, as Lucius

Contactmusic


Links


Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.