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MASKED AND ANONYMOUS review

MASKED & ANONYMOUS is an exquisite work of unmitigated shit.

I sat there in the theater this morning, jaw agape, stunned at the talent hitting my windshield like bugs on a highway. Them bugs on the windshield, the guts and parts spread about that silver screen, they’re responsible for 3 Academy Awards and 18 Academy Award Nominations. This may very well be the greatest waste of talent in the history of cinema.

This isn’t just your ordinary awful film like GIGLI or BOYS & GIRLS… This film is stunningly awful. There is a new low water mark. This film is astonishing to endure.

I sat there and saw many of my favorite actors flop about gasping for anything. Dying on screen. Desperately waving their hands about, giving their characters huge voices… trying to fill the utter void of significance that sucked the souls from anything on screen or watching it.

Think of the worst Altman film, the worst Coen film, the worst Woody Allen film… then imagine that you could see a film that makes them all seem brilliant, perfect and without fault.

The astonishing bit about this film is how you can’t look away. No matter what, you’ll sit there with some grain of hope. You’ll think to yourself while watching this, “It must get better,” but like me, you’d be wrong. You’d think with Jeff Bridges, Penelope Cruz, Bob Dylan, John Goodman, Jessica Lange, Luke Wilson, Angela Bassett, Steven Bauer, Bruce Dern, Ed Harris, Val Kilmer, Cheech Marin, Chris Penn, Giovanni Ribisi, Mickey Rourke, Christian Slater, Susan Tyrrell, Tracey Walter, Fred Ward and Charlie Sexton… well… you’d think there might be a scene. A moment. A glimmer of interest. You’d be wrong.

The only interest that could possibly hold your attention throughout this disaster is the concept that it is continuing to suck. Then there’s the whole train wreck factor. Watching that above list of AMAZING actors suck… it’s astonishing. I mean… Had this film been cast with Mr.T, Hulk Hogan, Freddie Prinze Jr, Tom Neyman, Lorenzo Lamas, Kathy Ireland, Jon Lovitz, Danny Bonaduce, Jackie Mason, Corey Haim, Richard Kiel, Alyssa Milano, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Todd Bridges, Henry Winkler and special guest, The Rock… well I think that cast might’ve been able to pull this off, especially if the aging Rocker was played by Felipe Rose with the rest of his regular band as back-up. It would have been an excruciatingly hilariously awful film.

Instead, watching a cast of the talent level that was actually in this film… well, it’s like what I imagine being strapped into a theater to watch your parents home porn tapes would be like. People you love, in a way you never needed to see them.

It isn’t just the performances though… the script is ludicrous. The cinematography seems to be by an autistic boy with a huffing problem. Meandering, drifting and semi-conscious of what is going on. The editing and pacing is like a metronome at its slowest setting… back….. and….. forth…… back……. And….. forth……

This film is hypnotically shitty. Like a 22inch snaked turd in the toilet bowl, this is a keeper… Photograph, send it to Flynnt… There’s many people out there that will go see this film no matter the warnings… I did. And somehow, the film was oddly fulfilling. There’s something strangely Zen about beholding a film this awful. Something humbling. Like the works of Ed Wood, it teaches you that not just anyone can pick up a camera… but also, if you put enough wrapping paper on a turd, you can sell it to suckers everywhere. There’s comfort in that, it’d make P.T. Barnum smile I think.

I know I don't go into the plot, the story, the scenes or the minutae of this heap, but personally... I want others to suffer as I suffered watching this film with false hope and the dream of what could have been beaten like a baby seal before a crying child. I'm telling you to beware, but I know with every word you are inching closer to the theater and someday when we meet... we'll lock eyes, share the stare and say, "Masked And Anonymous?" then share a table at a coffee house and talk about how bad it can really get.

Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 19, 2003, 9:34 p.m. CST

    wow it's like Seinfeld ....

    by Vic_

    a whole review about nothing? I've enevr even heard of this movie, perhaps some description of the plot would explain why this cast blew so badly. Then again, look at some other movies, like Ready to Wear by the aofrementioned Altman, where the cast and concept both failed. But yeah Harry maybe a bit of why exactly the film failed aside from high expectations derived from casting would be helpful here.

  • Aug. 19, 2003, 9:41 p.m. CST

    Who made this?

    by SuperJew

    It better be independet cuz I can't stand watching how much these studios have wasted this summer on crap when they could turn out at least 20 good independents for the cost of one average suck-fest (i.e. Johnny English)

  • Aug. 19, 2003, 9:41 p.m. CST

    This is why I read this site...

    by madjen

    Because Harry can make a review about a super shitty movie witty and hilarious. Yes, I think I will see this movie now because of it, but on DVD, not in the theater.

  • Aug. 19, 2003, 9:41 p.m. CST

    Well, Then....

    by EricAlan69

    ....are you saying you didn't like it, Harry? You really need to clear that ambiguity up. // The cinematography line was pretty much classic, though. Good work, Mr. Knowles. // e.

  • Aug. 19, 2003, 9:54 p.m. CST

    Harry, seriously...

    by SoulReaver

    your description reminds me of german film-making...

  • Aug. 19, 2003, 9:55 p.m. CST

    Yeah, but did you like it??????

    by Choda Boy

    What is up with the reviews you do Harry? I get that it sucked, WHY????????? I mean, what about it makes it such an abomination? It's great how you can think of new ways to describe "shit" and "turds", but hows about writing a review for once? I could get any jackass off the street to go see this movie and tell me what he thought and he'd give me something comparable to this review. "Well brother, it sucked dick." That is NOT a review, nor is it a critique, it's a witless slam, which is exactly what this piece was. TALK ABOUT THE MOVIE, NOT YOUR GODDAMN BOWL MOVEMENTS!!!!! Blade II was like eating pussy, this was a big turd, give me a break. Start writing reviews Harry, please.

  • Aug. 19, 2003, 9:59 p.m. CST

    Oooops...

    by Choda Boy

    Yeah, that's BOWEL movement, not BOWL, sorry. P.S.~Harry says he won't tell us about the movie so we can suffer or some shit. Is that why or did you just not want to write a real review because I'm still not going to see it, despite that. Put some effort into your reviews Harry, that's all I ask.

  • Aug. 19, 2003, 10:08 p.m. CST

    Now admit that Matrix Reloaded was a good movie!!!

    by Rcamacho2278

    see THESE are BAD movies, Matrix reloaded did not deserve the review it got and deserves an apology

  • Aug. 19, 2003, 10:13 p.m. CST

    I think Intolerable Cruelty will be even worse

    by SexyBeast

    trailer really sucks

  • Aug. 19, 2003, 10:31 p.m. CST

    The worst Coen film?

    by Hobbitastic

    The "worst" Coen film was, arguably, Blood Simple, and that was still a great movie. What's your point, Harry?

  • Aug. 19, 2003, 10:33 p.m. CST

    Ugh !

    by Syd Mead

    Father Geek getting his groove on is not a good visual. At all. Nice cool old dude whom I don't need to think of naked with a stiffy...ever. You're a fucking evil twisted freak Harry Knowles.

  • Aug. 19, 2003, 11:01 p.m. CST

    Now hold on there, mister

    by Trav McGee

    You best not have been making disparaging remarks about my girlfriend, Kathy Ireland. Any woman who looks like that AND homebrews (she's right there on my cover of Zymurgy, vol. 11 no. 4, leaning on a carboy, hefting a handsome-looking glass of ale) can DO NO WRONG. She was brewing when nobody was, man. And yeah, I'll even defend "Alien From L.A." After a few taps on my Red in the fridge, damn straight I will. The woman knows beer, gentlemen, she's a genuine enthusiast and I love her for it. Here's to you, Kathy! ...Movie? Right, been hearing it sucks for months now. Can't remember who's fault, though, Dylan or Larry David. David directed it, right? Or am I confusing it with a different piece of crap.

  • Aug. 19, 2003, 11:03 p.m. CST

    Dylan in the movies

    by WPMayhew

    The only time Dylan was good in a movie was when he played that huge asshole in "Don't Look Back."

  • There is no bad Coen Bros. film.

  • Aug. 19, 2003, 11:38 p.m. CST

    by Cugel79

    I'm not a conservative by any stretch, but I'm not the least bit suprised that this film is left-wing pretentious dick waving. It's kinda sad that the folks in this film didn't see from a mile away that it was going to be the sort biting ironic social commentary that a dissafected high school junior would come up with. Oh well. And if you want details, hit rottentomatoes. I've read enough of those not to mind that Harry didn't go into detail on this one.

  • Aug. 19, 2003, 11:48 p.m. CST

    Why all the hate for the Rock?

    by Mondo182

    WTF Harry, not to change the subject from this movie I never even heard of nor care about, but do you really have to toss the Rock into your list of crappy actors that you use in the "they could make a better movie" comparison? Give the guy a chance. He's only headlined one major movie and he's already being shat upon because of what? Because he's a wrestler and he follows in the droppings that Hulk Hogan left before him as an actor. Frankly, "The Rundown" trailer shows promise for his new film to atleast be entertaining and I'd watch "The Scorpion King" ten times over(ok, ok maybe two times over at best) before ever forcing myself to watch Shaquille O'Neal's Kazaam or any movie starring a rapper that isn't named Will Smith (and even his movie's are sometimes questionable). Sure, The Rock won't be the next Brando or Nicholson but the next Sly Stallone or Arnold Shwartzenhofferwalfowitznegger is good enough. Why don't you go star in a movie and show these talentless actors how its' really done?? Oh yea, thats right, no one is looking for a leading man who looks like an immensely-obese, orange-haired walrus...

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 12:18 a.m. CST

    Renaldo and Clara was a good flick though

    by Silver Shamrock

    Dylan wanted to follow in the footsteps of his idol, Elvis, and make movies, but just about every decade he's tried and failed. I wish I had Renaldo and Clara on DVD with 5.1 sound though. I love the part when someone asks Dylan, "are you running from the law?" and The Voice of a Generation replied, "I am the law!" Gawd, it doesn't get any better than that!

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 12:30 a.m. CST

    The Rock is entertaining to watch when he isnt pretending to be

    by SexyBeast

    I think the Rundown will be a great part for him.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 12:36 a.m. CST

    It's no Brown Bunny

    by Cabron

    I'll reserve judgement til I see it. Well, maybe not.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 12:55 a.m. CST

    Yeah, the stars swoon over Bob fucking Dylan...

    by FD Resurrected

    How strange Hollywood revolve their ego around Bob Dylan (real name Rober Zimmerman) the MUSICIAN and POET thinking starring in a film with Bob matter more than pain and suffering on Earth. Have something like that happen before - so many celebrities starring in a film because of a great director and/or actor? I think so. First "Hearts of Fire" and now this, what the hell was Bob Dylan thinkng? Maybe he's so pompous when it comes to acting he doesn't think Masked & Anonymous could be as awful as terrible MST3K movies. Most musicians cannot act and when they do act, it's usually with an air of pomposity and ego-inflated arrogance. There are exceptions to this of course, like Bjork in the underrated dark musical Dancer in the Dark (frankly one of the best female performances I've ever seen, and I've never cared nor listened to Bjork's albums). I've never seen Purple Rain and its bomb sequel Graffiti Bridge, so can't comment how Prince acts. Mariah Carey was hilariously bad in Glitter. Madonna cannot act in any of the film (maybe with the exception of Evita) period. Never cared for that Louisiana puta Britney Spears to bother seeing Crossroads. Interestingly, Glitter, Cool As Ice (with Vanilla Ice who acts so smugly he should be jumped and whacked) and Corssroads are residing in IMDb bottom 100. So the point is...? Music stars don't do good films make because of their Titanic ego and inability to resist agents and associates' pressure (or ignorant of sitting ass down to read screenplays, let alone write a coherent, unpretentious script) to turn down terrible projects that might taint their career attempt at acting for good. Bob Dylan's name seems to attract prominent actors like flies attracted to a disease-ridden turd dropped by a pompous smoking orangutan; that's the lesson they should never forget when it comes to ignoring the logic of reading a script first before deciding to sell out and star in a shitbomb to add to the resume of fewer good movies and a lot shittier movies they were in.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 12:56 a.m. CST

    masked and quinlan

    by hank quinlan

    Man, Bob I love ya. I still will check this out. But I got a feeling its just gonna be some shapeless mass of nothing. Remember Hearts of Fire? Did anyone ever even see that?

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 1:09 a.m. CST

    Cugel...

    by crimsonrage

    ...I doubt that this is a left wing movie. Dylan is thought to have wrote it and he himself holds no political affiliation (in a review in the 80s he said that he basically agrees and disagress with both sides equally and that was in the Reagan era when every celeb was touting Reagan as the anti-Christ...and if anyone has heard Dylan's Christian albums they would know that he can be quite the Conservative). Hey Harry, not ALL of the moments in the film can be bad...I mean, what about the frickin' music? Don't tell me you didn't like it.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 1:44 a.m. CST

    Hey Harry, keep Alyssa Milanos name out or your mouth!

    by Meleractor

    She succeeds in doing just what she has to do, raise my blood pressure. Embrace of the Vampire is a proud member of my video collection, gotta give it to a girl down with threesomes. woo hoo!

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 1:49 a.m. CST

    MATRIX REVOLUTIONS TRAILER IN GLORIOUS QUICKTIME!

    by 12345678

    http://whatisthematrix.warnerbros.com/rv_cmp/revolutions1_640.html THE MATRIX HAS YOU! REVOLUTIONS WILL OWN ALL. MATRIX RELOADED HATERS CAN SUCK MY SMALL COCK! NO GODDAMNED WEREWOLVES OR FUCKING GAY VAMPIRES.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 1:53 a.m. CST

    If the movie's that bad...

    by pseudonym420

    I have to see it. Call it morbid fascination. Besides, as long as Dylan picks up an instrument at least once, there is a redeeming factor. Musically, the man can do no wrong. (Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 has to be one of the greatest songs of all time) As for the discussion of the Rock's acting... what? Are you people joking? The man couldn't act his way out of a paper sack. I can stand a pretty shitty movie, but The Scorpion King is the one movie I've ever just walked out of half way through. And The Rundown looks like shit. By the intonation of any given line uttered by The Rock in any given role, I'm forced to question his comprehension of conversational english. They used to burn people alive for less.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 2:01 a.m. CST

    holy hell, Harry.....

    by magyarman

    Oh man, I haven't laughed that hard in a long time, thanks. I think that was my favorite bad review since Ebert's review of North.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 2:19 a.m. CST

    Why painkillers are taken AFTER a meal....

    by ChickenGeorgeVII

    You think 22 inches gets you into the

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 2:25 a.m. CST

    Dyland can't act and I love Altman's "SECRET HONOR" and "O.C. an

    by beamish13

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 2:34 a.m. CST

    The Rock has just one question:

    by Kurutteru Yatsu

    Do You like...pie? The Rock is a big fan of pie, but not just any pie, no, the Rock likes a certain...kind...of pie. Is it...apple pie? No, no, that's not it. Could it be...rhubarb pie? No, the Rock likes his rhubarb certainly, but that's not it. Could it be...PUMPkin pie? Hmm, closer, but no, that's not the Rock's favorite pie either. No the kind of pie the Rock likes is warm. Sticky. Juicy. The kind of pie the Rock likes is truly...the People's pie. All the Rock's fans know what it is. That's right, the Rock's favorite pie is that good old POONTANG PIE!!! I don't care what anyone says, I've seen the man live and when he speaks, he really does "electrify" the crowd. There was not an ass in the seats, literally 20,000 people all standing and chanting "Rocky, Rocky, Rocky..." Friggin' nuts. I really have yet to see him prove himself as a true actor, but as a performer in general, he is talented. Oh, and the Rundown trailer looks funny enough to me- I've been walking around shouting "Establish dominance!" for two weeks now. As for the review, I was never interested in this film to begin with and I'm still really not, but I have to admit I'm curious about whether it could really be THIS bad. It'd have top I Spy AND Crow City of Angels and that, ladies and gentlemen, is no small order.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 2:35 a.m. CST

    LADYKILLERS will be Los Bros. Coen's first major failure as dire

    by beamish13

    fucking remakes

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 2:46 a.m. CST

    Question

    by Kurutteru Yatsu

    Harry's review or lack thereof has got me thinking: In the history of cinema, has anyone ever TRIED to market a film based on how bad it was? Harry says he wants people to suffer like he did so go see the film; has a studio thought about following the same approach? I mean, if they knew they had a bomb on their hands, just running an ad based on the premise that "It's so bad, you won't be able to rip your eyes from the screen!" Perhaps Gigli would have fared a bit better. If anyone has heard of a film doing this, I'd love to know the name. (Although I have a sneaking suspicion that Pink Flamingos might have done something similar, I'm not sure.)

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 2:52 a.m. CST

    What pisses me off about a movie like MASKED & ANONYMOUS is....

    by Dolemite_fan

    that because of all the star talent involved, this piece of shit will make it to my city, whereas films like I CAPTURE THE CASTLE, BUFFALO SOLDIERS, LE CERCLE ROUGE (which I really want to see) will most likely never make it because of this pap. I can't complain; IRREVERSIBLE played here when it was released.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 2:56 a.m. CST

    pseudonym420

    by Mondo182

    I don't know why I'm even going into great lengths of defending the guy but I rarely make posts so what the heck. Again, I never said The Rock was a great actor but wait till he's made enough bad movies to condemn him to the leagues of Freddie Prinze Jr. ...or atleast until he dresses in a tutu and makes "Mr. Nanny 2". I'll also agree that the Scorpion King is an average movie at best (although, by the sound of it, you think it's even worse). Still I don't blame the Scorpion King's failure in The Rock's acting but rather the poor script (which I think was written by the guy(s) who made the equally bad "The Mummy" movies). That really annoying sidekick dude who wasn't funny at all also ruined the movie. Anyways...umm I dunno where I'm going with this. Hate him, I don't care anymore, he's a good entertainer and I'll watch his movies. I think I'm just gonna side with the guy who's defending Alyssa Milano. She's hot.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 3 a.m. CST

    But, did Chris Penn beat up any midgets in the film?

    by Uncapie

    This film is nothing but a self-absorbed wank-fest. The radio spots pretty much summed that up.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 3:16 a.m. CST

    Harry... This review of the HULK has come much to late. I don't

    by TheGinger Twit

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 3:17 a.m. CST

    John Goodman minus The Coens = suckiness

    by Mondo182

    Harry may make John Goodman to be part of a crop of great actors but John sure does suck at picking most of his movie choices. I'm sure the same thing in a way could be said about Slater and others in the cast but the only time Goodman has ever been in a good movie(noticed I said "in", not "voiced" as in animated movies) is when the Coen Brothers are involved with it in some way. King Ralph? One Night At McCools? Blues Brothers 2000?!? All garbage. With Goodman involved and no Coens, anyone going in to see Masked & Anonymous should have expected the same type of quality. It's like a given formula for crappiness...

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 3:21 a.m. CST

    What?

    by Deas

    Was that a review? That was just line after line of Harry saying "this is rubbish". There's nothing else here. Maybe I've completely missed the point but I thought the whole reason for reviews was to give the reader a general idea of what the film is about and then to assess it's quality. I would have thought that after all this time and all his reviews, Harry would be able to do better than "this is good" or this is bad". Grow up.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 4:09 a.m. CST

    Reason for poor review

    by Deas

    There were no vampires or werewolves even MENTIONED!

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 5:41 a.m. CST

    Harry wishes that Freddy Prinze Jr. actually was in this movie..

    by Reedster9898

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 6:01 a.m. CST

    That'd have to be one BIG table...

    by AngryNortherner

    Seriously Harry, what the fuck makes you think any other person could even FIT at a coffee table with you? Thats beside the point - Dylan rules but his movies suck, All popstar films do suck but Mandy Moore may actually have potential (I think - whether as an actress or a hooker I'm not sure). The Rock is NOT a good actor - being a good actor suggests that you can assume the roles of multiple characters and convince people that are them. What he is a single character that is funny as hell, and I for one am all for seeing him in as many films as possible, and never trying to be anything but The rock in any of them, because that just won't work. Alyssa Milano is indeed shit-hot, but her movies are in all fairness just plain shit. I saw Poison Ivy II last week, and I've got to say that movie is weak - not enough ass, and certainly not enough plot to make it worth watching with the lack of ass.

  • Complete oxymoron dude. There is no such a thing as their "worst" film, only each person's "my least favourite". Which in my case is probably Blood Simple - though i appreciate that it is terribly good, I just don't love it. By the sounds of things, you shouldn't be using their name in vain in connection with this film anyway.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 7:48 a.m. CST

    I can just imagine

    by KingOfTheFools

    Some where in Hollywood after reading...Had this film been cast with Mr.T, Hulk Hogan, Freddie Prinze Jr, Tom Neyman, Lorenzo Lamas, Kathy Ireland, Jon Lovitz, Danny Bonaduce, Jackie Mason, Corey Haim, Richard Kiel, Alyssa Milano, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Todd Bridges, Henry Winkler and special guest, The Rock...script writer's are burning up their keyboards trying to get a story together while casting agents are carelessly driving while talking on their cell phones trying to make this all happen, and Joel Schumacher is sitting in the director's chair...coming to a screen near you...summer '05

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 7:55 a.m. CST

    Yeah I thought that was kinda weird too...

    by earthworm_

    ..."Think of the worst Altman film, the worst Coen film, the worst Woody Allen film." I reckon I could have picked a better way of describing how shit a film is than comparing to the works of (on their day) cinematic geniuses. But then maybe I'm missing something. Perhaps if I was able to glean ANYTHING WHATSOEVER about the film from the above review, it might make sense. Funny review nevertheless though.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 8:05 a.m. CST

    Let's see if we can do any better

    by Heleno

    Instead of the Coens, Allen and Altman, how about Paul Resident Evil Anderson, Michael Bay and Joel Schumacher circa Batman and Robin? On a completely unrelated note, is anyone else amazed that today is the 41st birthday of James Marsters, aka Spike from Buffy? May I be that buff when I'm 41.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 8:05 a.m. CST

    crimsonrage...

    by Cugel79

    Huh. Guess I'll shut up, then.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 8:11 a.m. CST

    as bad as xXx ?

    by CuervoJones

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 8:21 a.m. CST

    Perhaps Harry hasn't spoken to Altman, Allen & the Coens...

    by earthworm_

    ...and still considers thier films to be shit?

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 8:25 a.m. CST

    Harry's Ass?!?!

    by Fart_Master_Flex

    Can you imagine the length of time that fat bastard must spend wiping his ass? Holy shit!! I really wish I could get this mental image of Harry wiping that colosal ass clean, but I can't. I keep on picturing this huge pale white canvas covered in fuzzy red hair. I imagine logs of shit falling into the bowl causing a tidal wave in the toilet water. Can Harry's logs even be flushed? Perhaps the pipes in Texas are bigger. Can you even imagine for a second the wretched stink that man must leave behind him when he is done? Do you think he wipes out the concession stand when he goes to the movies?? Sorry, I am just rambling here. One of my friends saw this movie. He said it stank like a slimy bit of fecal matter. I guess this film is just mired in shit. Oh, and Bob Dylan is so fuckiing overrated, it makes me have to hurl. His song structures are weak, his lyrics are meandering and pointless and his voice...well...that fucking speaks for itself. I am sure Gigli is thanking the lord for this piece of utter garbage. Mother fuckers!!! All you talkback bitches suck a nut!!

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 8:27 a.m. CST

    I think he's referring to Altman, Allen, and the Coens in a STYL

    by rev_skarekroe

    Meaning that this film uses the same ensemble cast approach as those filmmakers, but is far worse than anything they could ever concoct. But I could be wrong seeing as how this review doesn't actually explain ANYTHING. sk

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 8:34 a.m. CST

    I was wondering if it was something like that...

    by earthworm_

    ...but like you say, couldn't be sure.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 8:51 a.m. CST

    on a semi-related topic, what is with the deluge of emails comin

    by JasonDkEldar

    I swear I have gottten email after email with several of the names listed here sending the wicked little virus out. Anyone care to cop to this ?? As for this movie, the trailer alone stinks to high heaven, one of those trailers that make you feel like someone's synapses misfired when they were cutting it since no film could be this bad in toto. Of course there ARE movies that bad out there, and the tragedy is when they are not even worthy of razzing because they just are SO VERY painfully tedious. Tedious like the virus stroms flooding email accounts. Sad like the people originating them. Horrid like their fates when some random Fibbie loses his puter and decides to make an example out of the source. Dueling banjo time fellas.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 8:54 a.m. CST

    You're not alone

    by earthworm_

    I was considering posting something similar. I'm getting about 50 or so an hour. It's a newish virus that hijacks (and annoyingly slightly alters) email addresses. Hence the new user account.

  • seriously...

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 9:33 a.m. CST

    Barton Fink

    by Regicidal_Maniac

    Worst Coen Bros film. Seriously, it's a sleeping pill. It's a cocktail of Thorazine, Valium and Mogadon. The film should come a warning about not attempting to operate heavy machinery. All the other Coen films are great.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 10:03 a.m. CST

    Regicidal maniac

    by Heleno

    I'd take Barton Fink over, say, Miller's Crossing any day of the week. It's fab. And I realise that harry spoke sylistically, but it's still a sucky comparative list. Furthermore, I do not believe that the Ladykillers will be bad, because it's good source material (like the odyssey) and it's not a strict remake and hey! It's the Coen Brothers. I do wonder if Tom Hanks or anyone can live up to Alec Guiness' fab turn as an evil mastermind, but here's hoping.

  • Everybody's All American; The Borrowers. Although I agree with your implication that his best work is with the Coens. He's always a savage id in their films, giving them a wild card in their stacked deck.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 10:16 a.m. CST

    Hey it wasn't alllll bad

    by townes

    Harry, You have to admit it was cool to see Bob Dylan knee someone in the nuts it was the first time he moved all movie really it was a great cast and great movie of course the director was begging everyone to love it before the preview he called it a "messterpiece" he was half right I woulda given it like a C- or a C

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 10:16 a.m. CST

    Yesterday, I defended Harry against charges of being a brainless

    by heywood jablomie

    There was a piece in the L.A. Times yesterday trying to make a link between the gubernatorial recall, and Napster, and reality TV, and about five other things that showed "power from below"... and one of them was Harry Knowles. The democratic man, the champion of the Little Joe Shmoe Movie-Lover. Some guy from Variety was quoted as saying, "Harry is just like the youth of America--he likes little stupid movies and big garbage movies!" I thought this was unfair. AICN has covered lots of intereesting movies, foreign movies, weird but important movies.... ....then I read this MASKED AND ANONYMOUS review. All I can say is: Harry, may be you are the puerile, tasteless yahoo the L.A. Times painted you as. This is a brave, beautiful film that all AICN readers owe it to themselves to see. Nothing like what he describes. Harry, they can't *all* be as aesthetically achieved as...oh, BAD BOYS 2! Or BLOW! Or .....

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 10:26 a.m. CST

    I still want to see it - check out meetup.com

    by WarrenPeace325

    I still really want to see this movie. I've read both good and bad reviews, but even the bad reviews describe it in a way that makes it sound irresistible. I mean, great Dylan music, a bunch of weird stuff, actors I like playing strange characters, a totalitarian/conspiracy plot; what's not to like? On another note, everybody should check out http://aicn.meetup.com . Meetup is a cool site that organizes meetings between people with similar interests. I suggested they create a page for AICN, and they did, but so far I'm the only one signed up for it. I emailed Harry and everyone about it, figuring they would think it was a cool idea and post about it on the site, but they haven't yet, those jerks! ;-) Now I'm forced to try to convince people to check it out in talkbacks.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 10:27 a.m. CST

    What wrong with Jon Lovitz?

    by ScreamingPenis

    Acting! Genius!

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 10:48 a.m. CST

    Tom Neyman!

    by Doug Exeter

    I don't usually talk back, but Harry bringing up the acting majesty that is Tom Neyman deserves a quick nod. The Master, himself!

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 10:48 a.m. CST

    Miller's crossing

    by guerillatokyo

    I personally thought Miller's Crossing was the Weakest Coen Brothers film, ulness you count Crimewave, which I don't. It wasn't that I disliked it. Just that it was least like their usual style. Still an okay flick, just not their best.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 10:49 a.m. CST

    Hearts of Fire rocked/Jimmy Cliff/Kris Kristofferson

    by townes

    Sure I was high when I watched it all 6 times but damn I love watching Dylan act and how come all you youngsters haven't referenced his great role in Pat Garret and Billy the Kid (speaking of musician actors.. What about Kris Kristofferson and Jimmy Cliff who im seein tommorow at antones woot!!) Everyone rent The Harder They Come (no its not a porn) its a great movie with Jimmy Cliff and some of the best reggae music ever in the soundtrack

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 10:51 a.m. CST

    it

    by qualopec

    Funniest. Analogy. Ever. So good, I bet Harry stole it from somewhere else.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 11:27 a.m. CST

    The Coen Bros. movie Harry was referring to is...

    by wash

    ...The Hudsucker Proxy. What a boring mess that one was. The guy who said Barton Fink was joking.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 11:30 a.m. CST

    For Christ's sake, the movie's not THAT bad!

    by Moose2345

    Is it a good movie? No, but it's hardly so bad it deserves the title "worst movie ever". Why is it bad? The main problem is that the characters are one dimensional and you don't care about anyone on screen. Basically it's made for fans of Bob Dylan - the loose, rambling surreal narrative is not unlike a lot of his songs - it seems to be Dylan's oblique commentary on the US, and I think most people reviewing it can't handle that. There's enough there that I doubt anyone watching it picked up on everything the first run through, and it's not really appealing enough to bring most people back for a second viewing. But some of the acting is good (I liked Val Kilmner's bit). Some of the scenes are funny. And most importantly, the music scenes are fantastic! If you're not a fan of Bob Dylan, why in God's name would you want to see it anyway? The only thing shitty here is Harry's review.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 11:32 a.m. CST

    I thought the film was brilliant

    by Krinkle

    Really. It's very funny and very authentic. And considering Harry clearly has no affinity or understanding for Bob Dylan's work, you can probably take my word over his. If you're a Dylan fan (and I don't imagine there are many that frequent this playground) you'll love it.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 11:36 a.m. CST

    This review - M&A = Armageddon

    by Moose2345

    And I agree with the poster who said this review should apply to Armageddon. There's your worst movie ever made. Yucch!

  • And busting on "Jaws"? Man, that's just wrong. "Jaws" rules. That scene in MOONRAKER where he goes, "Well, here's to us..."? It doesn't get any better than that.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 12:09 p.m. CST

    So why dont we focus our energy on the New MATRIX REVOLUTIONS tr

    by Rcamacho2278

    Where is that link??? why isnt there more talk about this?? its FAR more important!!!

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 12:15 p.m. CST

    Consider Your Audience, Harry

    by Gershwyn

    Long-time reader, first-time TalkBacker. Uh, Harry. Dude. "Like a 22 inch snaked turd in the toilet bowl, this is a keeper." I'm not sure what grade school you attended, but most of us stopped talking like this around that era. Either you're trolling for a reaction, or you really do think like this. Either way, dude, move on.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 12:15 p.m. CST

    Wow...

    by BitterMan23

    ....Dylan must not have invited Harry to the set.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 12:21 p.m. CST

    An all-time great throwaway line:

    by rasok19

    The cinematography seems to be by an autistic boy with a huffing problem.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 12:30 p.m. CST

    Big Man, I am always the first to rip on you and I was pretty up

    by Lost Skeleton

    ...you made up for it with that review. That's classic. Also, some of your best writing in a while...have you been taking a class? Funny shit big man!

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 12:55 p.m. CST

    Harry is right... this movie blows

    by philosophile

    I had the unfortunate experience of seeing this movie.... if you want details: Dylan is in jail.... because he's too.... apathetic.... or something. Its the future, and the US is now the entire North American continent. Dylan is released from jail to play a benefit concert... but only if they play the songs that they want him to play... Blah blah blah blah blah.... Long story short, he doesn't, and they send him back to jail... Everyone's lines are like song lyrics, metaphorical and full of self-importance, but really not worth the metaphor. In music you need to be conservative with your words... in movies you don't have to speak metaphorically all the damn time... Characters are underdeveloped and flat, and some of them I'm not even sure what their purpose was, except to walk around with Bob Dylan. I have to say... the ONLY redeeming factor in this movie... was watching Bob Dylan.... FIGHT! Yes, he throws a punch, and gets pushed around... it is absolutely hilarious, because it was filmed with the seriousness of a climatic moment of a movie.... But that one comic payoff is really not worth slogging through the rest of the movie...

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 1:17 p.m. CST

    Townes gets brownie points...

    by crimsonrage

    ...for mentioning 'Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid' easily one of the top 5 Westerns of all time. Dylan isn't the greatest in it, but it's fun to see him throw a knife through a guys throat and read off the labels on cans of 'air-tights' ("Buh-eans, buh-aked buh-eans, squash..."). In addition to that it has Dylan's masterful score (just watch Pickens' death scene). To those calling Dylan overrated: tell that to The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and countless others who have emulated him (specifically Hendrix). He inspired artists to go in new and different directions and sing about a plethora of subjects in a variety of musical styles. His emergence on the music scene is easily the turning point of 20th century music (and those complaining about his voice would do well to listen to the albums 'Nashville Skyline', and 'Desire' (specifically the song 'One More Cup of Coffee')).

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 1:19 p.m. CST

    The Hudsucker Proxy is a great film.

    by FluffyUnbound

    How can you not find everything about that film charming? Mood, sets, dialect, performances, costuming, pacing, the neat little plot that ties itself up with a bow at the end. What's wrong with it? It's even funny, or at least Leigh is.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 1:49 p.m. CST

    Well, surely it can't be any worse than RENALDO AND CLARA

    by Stephen Dedalus

    Anyone seen that? All five hours?

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 2:26 p.m. CST

    i love dylans music

    by ethan vestby

    but thats not enough to make me see this piece of crap

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 3:11 p.m. CST

    Hmmm...

    by morGoth

    ...this does contradict some other favorable reviews I've read. Still, I agree that why would anyone want to see this unless they were a Dylan fan...which I'm not. It takes other musicians to make his songs great like Hendrix's cover of 'All Along the Watch Tower.' ** JasonDkEldar I'm getting the same damned e-mail shit...took me an hour to dump all those freakin' virus attached e-mails this morning. Bastards!

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 4:58 p.m. CST

    "Harry wipes MASKED & ANONYMOUS from the crack of his ass!"

    by mtoast

    Thanks for the fucking image. And with your ubiquitous exclamation mark -- just in case we missed the oh-so-subtle-and-nuanced point.

  • "I coulda been a contender, brother."

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 5:32 p.m. CST

    ANYONE ELSE HAVING PROBLEMS GETTING INTO CHAT?

    by Not The Messiah

    Keeps telling me it can't find the server. Help.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 5:32 p.m. CST

    Well said, Crimson Rage....

    by King Rhythm

    .."One More Cup Of Coffee" is indeed excellent. The melismas, the fiddle, Emmylou Harris' backing vocals...one of Dylan's best. Nashville Skyline is another classic too, up there with "Freewheelin'"" I don't mind the vocals on that though.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 5:33 p.m. CST

    OMG I just saw the trailer for Highwaymen...SO...AWFUL...BRAIN..

    by SexyBeast

    How does a script like this get made? A guy in a car killing people? As if the cops couldn't catch this guy within a week.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 6:32 p.m. CST

    WPMayhew

    by PumpyMcAss

    It's creepy but when I read your post I just happened to be listening Like Dylan in the movies by Belle & Sebastian. Hmmm...

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 6:35 p.m. CST

    Worst Coen movie

    by PumpyMcAss

    was easily The Hudsucker Proxy. That was the only Coen Bros. movie I did not instantly love. Though the trailer for Intolerable Cruelty looks very blah. Hope it was just cut that way to seem like a normal romantic comedy and that there is something pretty sinister in there somewhere. But I'm skeptical at this point.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 7:02 p.m. CST

    I Love HUDSUCKER. Brilliant visuals and a great story to boot

    by beamish13

    "you know, for the kids!"

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 7:30 p.m. CST

    hey MorGoth.. the reason I mentioned it here was that most of th

    by JasonDkEldar

    Another poster explained the virus changed email names slightly and sent itself again. I only received ONE email address that did that, and it was all from the same domain--60 different email addresses from some guy with a T1 connection. The other EMails I received were hidden header emails masking as mailer-daemons or even specific talkbacker email addresses. I tried notifying Harry, Moriarty, or even the tech guy El Clsmico, but their Email accounts were all full to the brim. I would guess the bloggers who try to promote their sites here have tired of noone responding to their solicitations and decided to lay their trips on us with EMail flooding viruses. I find that this board set, with all its flame wars, is much more fairly distributed in viewpoint. IMDB's boards have lurker-friendly notifications of anyone posting on a board thread you start, so people who want to defend an outrageous stance need not lurk on one posting board, but can cover several threads at once. I recently discovered one on the "House of 1000 Corpses" board, who posted multiple messages on every thread flaming the movie, the people connected with it and anyone who appreciated anything about the film. I have posted negative comments about movies on here and on IMDB, and tried to be fair when flamed, but when personally targeted til I stop responding like happens on IMDB, I appreciate the democracy here. No junta tactics usually work here. I like Harry's reviews, as they show a wanting to like a film, with the exception of the unfortunate WS Anderson I would guess. It seems people have to actively attempt something bad and have an attitude about their film as if it were really good for Harry to level both barrels at something. There are movies I am not fans of, but I understand their appeal to others. I think it is arrogant of any movie fan to say that someone else doesn't GET their favorite flick. Lots of people get films' points all the time. What is in question is whether they like what they got. I have several movies I like that others hate. I know people whose recommendations I can judge from whether they give positive reviews or good ones. I don;t take the freshness meter as gospel from rottentomatoes.com, since they weigh the individual contributions according to their own opinion of the film, allowing some reviews from one reviewer to count towards the total and others by the same reviewer for movies they like to not count when they are unfavorable. Democracy here is of the form that even though this is a site featuring the opinions of Harry Knowles, his friends and colleagues, and people they know and wish to contribute, every person whether blogging, shilling, flaming, or simply disagreeing or agreeing has a place to post their views. Sure it would be great if noone was ever banned, but that would have to depend on an age checking system and a definitive identity verification, making all talkbackers to be of legal age, with the requisite full citizen rights of free speech. This is their site, the Knolwes clan and company, and some people hate that their own sites are not as click heavy. If Harry wants to run ads for The Real Cancun, the biggest waste of money anyone would ever try to justify, then he has a right to do so. If he chooses to really enjoy himself and feature directors, actors, and producers he admires, likes, lusts for, then that is his prerogative. Attempts at sabotage, railing and raging against him, the site, or other talkbackersmakes little sense. If he were the fascist or fool some claim him to be he would just ask for volunteers to zot talkbackers he disagrees with from the boards, and messages from the boards he finds harmful to others' work. There are plenty of talkbackers who would be happy to devote a few hours a week to purging the talkbacks of random messages and their even more random posters. It can be done. IP's can be traced even past maskers. Don't believe for a second the supposition Harry is a corporate stooge. If so he would simply delte and ban those whose talkbacks are effective in their criticisms. He does not. Unfortuantely he generally doesn't delete or ban those who blog, flame, or otherwise rant madly. He reserves that fun for the person who are truly disturbed. Fortunately for some, including sometimes me, he does not ban for obnoxious or elitist or sub-elitist attitudes.

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 8:41 p.m. CST

    Lovitz is GOD

    by keller610

    Maybe if they had hired Lovitz in the first place this film wouldnt be the train wreck you've made it out to be. In fact, i think most of us who know what real acting is would agree that if Lovitz had been hired to play all the roles as well as direct that this film would most likely be stealing away all of the best awards come oscar season. Obviously somebody wished they had the tallent that Lovitz posseses and added him to that list out of anger caused by jealously. I mean havent you seen Mom & dad save the world? You only wish you had the chops Lovitz has you ignorant hack!

  • Aug. 20, 2003, 11:34 p.m. CST

    Bob Dylan sucks

    by eau hellz gnaw

    He has to be the single most overrated popular musician in American history, with all due respect to Elvis--but no one who has a full set of teeth really takes him seriously. I bet everyone genuinely thought they were making a masterpiece when they agreed to do this movie.

  • Aug. 21, 2003, 6 a.m. CST

    Still it's doing better than Gigli ...

    by rizla

    Gigli - 3 weeks - 72 screens - weekend gross: $18,702 Masked and Anonymous - 4 weeks - 12 screens - weekend gross: $26,387 Can't help but laugh my ass off at that stat. Woo hoo!

  • Aug. 21, 2003, 6:08 a.m. CST

    Musicians in the movies

    by Electric Tsunami

    I walked out of this one after 90 minutes. I would have left sooner but I had nothing to do for awhile. After 90 minutes, I didn't care, I just had to go. Even Neil Young's Human Highway (with Devo, Dennis Hopper, and Dean Stockwell) is a better film. M&A is underealized and it seems like the actors are improvizing from a story treatment for a public access shot on video travesty. The dialogue is hopelessly cliche. I found the Bob Dylan musical performances to be the only redeeming factor in this movie. I'd recommend Human Highway over M&A just for the collaboration of Devo and Neil Young on "Hey Hey My My" with Booji Boy singing his own version of the words. Nothing hits that level (high or low) in M&A.

  • Aug. 21, 2003, 5:23 p.m. CST

    Since when was Gigli an ordinary bad movie?

    by Mr. Tourette's

    You clearly didn't try to sit all the way through it. Yes, I would call it extraordinarily bad.

  • Aug. 21, 2003, 7:16 p.m. CST

    Wow...what an asinine review.

    by Johnny Smith

  • Aug. 22, 2003, 2:27 p.m. CST

    The worst Coen film is still great.

    by nightwatchman

  • Aug. 22, 2003, 3:04 p.m. CST

    So to sumaraize. . .

    by McCormic

    This film was bad. Don't ask me why. It just was. Great review, Harry.

  • Aug. 22, 2003, 6:34 p.m. CST

    I WILL REVIEW THIS!!!

    by Neosamurai85

    It will be a few more weeks before it gets to my town, but when it does I WILL SEE IT! I know by that point it will be to old of news for Harry to post my review, but I WILL REVIEW THIS!!! Even if I have to post it on Talkback boards that are miles away from any relation to Masked and Anonymous, I will get a better review of this film out there then this disgrace that Harry has bestowed upon us. I mean Harry, I like you man, but what the fuck? If this movie really does suck, then it deserves to at least be broken down in how it sucked. Your

  • Aug. 22, 2003, 9:47 p.m. CST

    worst Coen film?

    by Minotaur

    Harry, what the hell is a "worst Coen film"? You say strange things sometimes.

  • Aug. 23, 2003, 9:49 p.m. CST

    Masked and Anonymous revue

    by dylan fan

    - Wow. I laughed so hard that I had to take the time to register just to tell you how dead on your review was - as well as being phenominally entertaining. I think the thing that makes it so funny is that you really managed to hit dead center in describing my own reactions to the film. - I love Dylan, and he WILL go down as THE voice my generation (baby boomers), but this movie sucked, and in exactly the ways you described. - Thanks for the review. I got a whole lot more entertainment out of it than I did out of the movie.

  • Aug. 23, 2003, 11:48 p.m. CST

    in defense of all things coen (as per this TB)

    by imageburn13

    ok lets begin: barton fink; each scene is a painting,. masterful cinema...dialog unmatched still to this day (and i dont mean a postcard!)millers crossing; slower pace, fucking mind-bending story, and machine gun fights that are outright insane; hudsucker proxy; beautful, roger deakins best work, cast and acted perfectly, with a beautiful score and perfect mix of 40's style drama and humor. Blood simple is simply that, a warmup to very big things, tho not weak by any means. Of course, lebowski and fargo sit in a class of themselves, easily the most tedious coen film is oh brother, great film, beautifully shot, but lacking otherwise. I'd put Man Who Wasnt There one up above OBWAT becuase it dares to step outside its boundaries. I didnt feel that from oh brother. Just my 02.

  • Aug. 24, 2003, 2:12 a.m. CST

    Listen to the Basement Tapes instead

    by Brimacombe

    Seriously it will blow your mind. And by all means listen to it while you are sober. I don't understand these artsy fartsy shit eaters who like to be under the influence when experiencing a work of genius. Like assholes smoking joints at a Springsteen concert. What the fuck are you doing? Seriously you should only do drugs before and while watching Cool World or this Masked and Annonymous shit. Shame on you Bob Dylan.

  • Sept. 1, 2003, 4:20 p.m. CST

    Funny. . .

    by FloydGandoli

    Kyle and Efram really seemed to like it.

  • Sept. 22, 2003, 12:34 a.m. CST

    Totally DIFFERENT View from www.counterpunch.org (READ)

    by truthseekr1488

    Masked and Anonymous: Bob Dylan's Elegy for a Lost America. By DAVID VEST. Bob Dylan's new film, "Masked and Anonymous," has met with almost universal condemnation (or worse, condescension) from critics in the corporate media. According to most reviewers, in lieu of a plot the film offers "rambling incoherence" and "incomprehensible dialogue." It is "an exercise in self-indulgence." Several reviewers have actually worried in print that Dylan made the movie in order to have some kind of joke at their expense. Dylan's character, Jack Fate, has little or nothing to say, we are repeatedly told, and more or less just "sits there like a toad," in the words of Roger Ebert, who should be the last person to accuse anyone of that. Could the movie really be this bad? It wouldn't matter if it were equal to "The Tempest" or "Julius Caesar," it has already been pronounced D.O.A. .......... Reviewers had already effectively killed Dylan's film by the time it arrived in Portland, Oregon for a perfunctory one-week run. Although attendance grew steadily during the week, it started sparse and grew toward respectable........... Not ten minutes after the opening credits I could see why the film had been marked for assassination by big newspaper media critics. They are the villains of the piece! "Masked and Anonymous" portrays the reporters who wrote the bad reviews as people who have to wear ankle monitors. Editors hold the keys that control them. Who owns the editors is pretty clear, too. The sight of superstar critic and Sixties specialist "Tom Friend" (Jeff Bridges) being beaten to death with Blind Lemon Jefferson's guitar must have been too much for them........... "Friend," obsessed with his own memories of the Sixties but oblivious to what is going on outside the window, never seems to notice that Fate, his quarry, answers none of his questions. Officials of the "network" televising the "benefit" on which Fate is to appear see him as self-indulgent, too. They want him to sing "Jailhouse Rock," "Jumping Jack Flash" and "Revolution -- the slow version." He gives them "Dixie.".......... The infamous "rambling and incomprehensible" plot is in fact rather well-constructed and makes abundant sense. Although the project could have used some tighter editing and more attention to minor issues of continuity, anyone who couldn't follow this movie probably couldn't be trusted with a comic book. The storyline is no more "obscure" or "disjointed" than "A Hard Day's Night.".......... But it hits a great deal harder. When the camera pans slowly down a desolate L.A. avenue, and Dylan is heard singing "Seen the arrow on the doorpost, saying This Land is Condemned, all the way from New Orleans to Jerusalem," try to keep tears from welling. (Or sit there like a toad eating popcorn and stuff the feeling, it's your call.) .......... Whereas the concert finale of "A Hard Day's Night" is witnessed by screaming teenagers and an adoring TV audience, the concert performed by Fate in "Masked and Anonymous" is seen by no one except stage hands and extras because it is pre-empted by a presidential speech and interrupted by guns and bayonets. .......... In spite of what you may have read, the film is not "set in some imaginary third-world country at some point in the future," anymore than King Lear is about prehistoric England. Failure to recognize the true setting should immediately disqualify any reviewer. "Masked and Anonymous" is a spot-on accurate portrayal of what is going on RIGHT NOW, seen through the eyes of someone with vision and not just eyesight, someone who has looked through the eyes not only of Charley Patton and Elizabeth Cotton but also of Emmett Miller and even Daniel Decatur Emmett. All America's chicken-hawk foreign wars have come home to roost. The horrors once visited upon El Salvador, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Somalia and Iraq are now rolling through the streets of California. All the electoral disgrace of recent campaigns has been compressed into one presidential speech. As for the major media as portrayed in this film, it is impossible not to think of Christiane Amanpour's recent admission that CNN "was intimidated" by the Bush administration and operated in a "climate of fear and self-censorship" during the invasion of Iraq. .......... When the new president (Mickey Roarke) concludes his "war-is-peace" oration at the end of the film with the sarcastic words "May God help you all," it is merely what anyone with a perceptive imagination can hear Bush or Cheney saying when they conclude their speeches with the formulaic "God Bless America." Certainly the administration portrayed in "Masked and Anonymous" is no more thuggish than the one currently rooting at the trough in Washington. .......... Or, as Uncle Sweetheart (John Goodman) puts it, "It's the dark princes, the democratic republicans, working for a barbarian who can scarcely spell his own name." .......... When a soldier (Giovanni Ribisi) tells Fate of fighting first with the rebels, then with the counter-insurgents, then with the Government, then with the rebels again, only to discover that some of the rebels are in fact funded by the very Government they're supposed to be opposing, how strange does that seem to anyone familiar with the betrayals and capitulations of contemporary politics, especially movement politics? It's like finding out who sponsors "Earth Day." .......... To be on the side of workers, of animals, of oppressed people, of love, of the truth is to court destruction. Before singing his final song and meeting his own fate, Jack Fate experiences a visitation by his ghostly forerunner, Oscar Vogel (Ed Harris), a banjo-playing entertainer who worked in blackface and who disappeared after raising his voice against the times. When Fate looks back to catch a last glimpse of Vogel, the vaudevillian has been replaced by a young Black man who could be a janitor, a Reggae artist or a rising Hip-Hop truth teller, next in the line of destiny, or line of fire. .......... This film isn't perfect. I have read the original screenplay and far too much has been cut out of it to try to make it acceptable to people who would have had none of it under any circumstances. But it is the only motion picture I have seen so far in this millennium that seems to have a clue about what is going on in America. Moviegoers will get it or they won't. Great pains have been taken to ensure that they won't even see it........... It is a tale of almost unbearable sadness and loss. When Dylan sings "I'll Remember You," as electrifying a performance as has ever been caught on camera (all the songs are performed live, there's no lip-synching in this movie) you feel that he may well be singing not merely about a person but also about that "lost America of love" that Ginsberg mourned in "A Supermarket in California," a work that in its visionary aspect and intensity "Masked and Anonymous" resembles. (Its ultimate antecedents are of course Shakespeare's history plays.) .......... When Dylan's character, Fate, is reunited with his lost/doomed love (Angela Bassett, magnificent in the role), she endeavors with great tenderness to console him for his losses, and without a word Dylan manages to convey that Fate's grief is inconsolable. It is a scene of considerable beauty and delicacy. .......... Dylan's performance has been called "inscrutable." But who else could have played this role? There are people who find his songs inscrutable as well, and I suppose arguing with them would be as pointless as trying to answer "Tom Friend's" interview questions. .......... The most daring (and intriguing) line in the film slips by almost unnoticed: moments after Jack Fate is arrested for a sudden act of violence committed by his sidekick Bobby Cupid (Luke Wilson), he thinks to himself, "Sometimes it's not enough to know the meaning of things. Sometimes we have to know what things don't mean as well. Like, what does it mean to not know what the person you love is capable of?" .......... Unlike D. A. Pennebaker's "Don't Look Back," which showed a young Dylan eating dumb but presumptuous critics alive, "Masked and Anonymous" depicts an aging Jack Fate with nothing whatever to say to them. "I was always a singer and maybe no more than that," he says. So much for "self-indulgence."