The River

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

A couple bloggers chat about Masked & Anonymous

What a plot huh? Uncle Sweetheart, or whatever his name was, John Goodman, tries to put on a benefit concert for the victims of state’s perpetual wars and the only performer he can get is the former counterculture singer Jack Fate, who’s not only washed up, but locked up. That’s it.

Yeah, just an excuse to rap about the state of the world. The thing I liked about M&A was that it felt like we’d written it.

Wild huh? I mean, we’re nobodies.

Well, that’s one of its themes. Who’s a somebody? Who’s a nobody? The film makes great fun of our ideas of that.

Yeah, and Bob strides, minces – how do you describe his walk? It’s odd, that’s for sure. Anyway, he moves through the film like the most unprepossessing person you ever saw.

Yeah, it was almost like he didn’t like having the camera on him, making him out to be something he’s not, i.e. a star, an “important person.”

That scene where Goodman brings the other “performers,” a handful of Great Persons Through History..

A Hall of Achievement!

Heee. Yep…. they're slated for the benefit concert and they pile into the trailer – Gandhi, Pope John Paul II, Abe Lincoln, and some others – that was hilarious.

Yeah, and later in the background we see “the Pope” eating a sandwich.

How about that scene with that strange board full of phrases, some from Dylan songs, and there’s one that says “God’s Mistake” and it’s circled in red ink with an arrow pointing to another one that says “Infomercials.”


There’s a great synopsis of the film on the official site. I like this part:
The next fellow could watch the same scene and see something altogether different. That’s how these things are supposed to work, whether you get them from a book or on a canvas or a record or projected on a screen. If everything's clicking you see some things that look familiar and others you never saw before. You might see some people you recognize and some you don't and maybe someone who reminds you of yourself.

And you get a world familiar enough to make sense, but different enough to suggest new possibilities.

Sounds about right. I like the last paragraph of that piece too: “If you can take that much away from a motion picture or a record, book or painting - then that’s a fair deal. That’s worth your time. Throw in a few tunes and a couple of good jokes and, bingo, you’re in show business.”

Those scenes with the band – worth the price of admission right there.

You know what’s weird. That joke in there, man eating chicken at the circus (and the whole thing has a circus sideshow feel), and Dylan pulls the curtain back and there’s a guy at a table with a bucket of fried chicken, munching away? I was in a meeting at work the day after we saw it, and one of my co-workers brought the boss some chicken nuggets. And he ate them during the meeting. At a table (his desk).

Well how about the fact that you just used “The Times they are a’changing” on your blog, and there’s that scene in the film with the beautiful little girl of maybe 8 or so singing it in front of Dylan a-capella.

Oh yeah, that was an amazing moment. Sung oh so sweetly by an innocent child, in the post-apocalyptic world the film creates, it’s a rare moment of beauty, and the words take on a timeless significance. “your sons’ and daughters are beyond your command. Don’t criticize what you can’t understand.”

Yep. There’s always hope. There’s always a new generation.

It was dark, absurd, but fun too. John Goodman was funny as hell.

What a bombed out world though, huh?

Lotta stuff about freedom in there too.

A popular topic in blogland.


It’s not always terribly deep, or unbelievably clever, but taken all together it’s a rather soulful rendering of the state of the world today.

Like blogland.


I like the scene where the Luke Wilson character, the good friend to Jack Fate, says, something about to hell with this crazy money making scam, “let’s get out of here, go somewhere where we can look at the earth and sky. Let’s go to the South Pacific like Gauguin.” And Goodman, who’s trying through the whole film to hold everything together -- which is perpetually threatening to fall apart -- says “Gauguin was a stockbroker!”

The whole thing had the feel of “What are you rebelling against? Whataya got?”

You know what else is funny? After the film, when we went to a bar next door with outdoor seating, and sat out with a Guinness and I wrote some notes on the film on the back of some paper I had? It was a Network Security White Paper I took out of my work briefcase. One side, White Paper, typed, stark, rigid, lifeless, other side, handwritten notes, lines uneven.

Good and evil?


Prison, freedom? Anonymous, identity? Corporate, individual?

Sorta sums it up right there, huh?

It’ll have to. I gotta go.

Wait, I just found this. It’s better than many a review you might stumble upon.


What about that use of the guitar as murder weapon?

I know. What struck me was the way The Fan character used it – it was just like Pete Townsend smashing his guitar on the ground.

Yeah, there were lots of “quotes” from the 60s, a time when there was a rage boiling over about the mendacity of the state.

And in the movie, he uses the guitar, a symbol of rock and roll that goes back to the blues (it was a famous bluesman’s guitar) on a figure representing the media. To symbolically smash the media, cut through the lies.

Won’t Get Fooled Again.

Yep, but it’s really a futile gesture.

Been fooled again and again.

Yeah, well, don’t YOU be fooled.

Like some fools.

But not these fools. In the film.


Really gotta go now.

Ok. Later…. Hey, that’s Louie, Louie.

Hee. Yep. Sure is. Rock n roll. What a force.


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