The setting is an unnamed country, that could be the US, or could be somewhere in LatinAmerica. Either way, the government is repressive and corrupt, the economy is in a shambles,guerilla warfare is constant, and society is approaching total collapse. Bent impresarios JohnGoodman and Jessica Lange are mounting a TV benefit concert, but the only star they can get isJack Fate, a thinly disguised version of Bob Dylan, played by the man himself. Cynical reporterJeff Bridges is …ent to cover the concert.
Summarizing the plot of Masked and Anonymous is something of an exercise infutility, and rather beside the point. Dylan wanders around, encountering strange charactersplayed by famous stars doing cameos, and everybody speaks a surreal form of hard-boileddialogue (imagine Bogart and Bacall whacked out on LSD and you’ll get the idea). There is allsorts of political satire in here too. Does it work? I don’t think so. But as a freaked-out oddity, thefilm is rather compulsive.
The environmental effects are superb, creating the sense of a disintegrating society. Unseenhelicopters perpetually buzz through the rear speakers, hovering just at the edge of awareness.The left-right separation is solid as well. The music, as one might expect, is well rendered. Thedialogue is crisp, clear, never drowned out, and free of buzz. Not that any of this makes Dylaneasier to understand.
The transfer is very good too, with excellent colours, flesh tones, contrasts and blacks. Thereis no grain, and no edge enhancement that I could see. The image is as sharp, and the aspect is1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen (I can’t help but wonder if that was really the theatrical releaseformat, however).
Director Larry Charles does the honours on the commentary, and takes us through shot byshot, emphasising technical and behind-the-scenes aspects. There are a number of long silencesin his talk. There are 5 deleted scenes, your standard promotional featurette, and trailers forMy Life Without Me, Owning Mahoney, Laurel Canyon and Maskedand Anonymous. The menu is basic.
Definitely worth seeking out, if only to see something really peculiar. The non-stop insanityof the dialogue might be wearing for some, however.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary
- Deleted Scenes
- Making-of Featurette
- Theatrical Trailers