Last night Media Nation Jr. and I watched “Masked and Anonymous,” a 2003 movie with an all-star cast that includes John Goodman, Jessica Lange and, improbably, Bob Dylan. I didn’t expect it to be very good, and I wasn’t disappointed. But it wasn’t boring, either.
Much of the writing was so bad that it made some pretty good actors and actresses seem like community-theater wanna-bes. But Dylan himself was weirdly compelling. You wouldn’t call him a great actor, but he projected an understated (very understated) emotional force that gave him real presence.
“Masked and Anonymous” is set in some dystopian near-future. It’s hard to tell exactly what has happened, but there’s been a revolution. The dictator is dying. And a has-been named Jack Fate — played by Dylan — is sprung from a hellish-looking prison in order to perform at a benefit concert.
Perhaps the best line is delivered in one of the DVD extra features, when Goodman laughs and admits that he has no idea what “Masked” is about. It’s that kind of movie. But it looks great, and there’s a lot of music by Dylan and his regular band.
In any event, it’s a damn sight better than Renaldo and Clara, Dylan’s four-and-a-half-hour 1978 disaster, to which I took Mrs. Media Nation back when I was dating her. It’s a wonder she married me.