Tag Archives: 1993

Top 100 Films #16 – Dazed and Confused (1993)

 

the-rise-of-matthew-mcconaughey-10-dazed-and-confused-1090368-twobyone#16. Dazed and Confused (1993)
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Written by: Richard Linklater
Starring: Wiley Wiggins, Jason London, Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Cole Hauser, Parker Posey, Milla Jovovich, Adam Goldberg

Dazed and Confused is Richard Linklater’s nostalgic and hilarious coming-of-age film that really established the now great director as one to watch.  The ensemble period piece sees a wide range of characters about to enter – or finally finishing – high school in 1970’s Austin, Texas.  Our cast of characters includes Randall “Pink” Floyd (Jason London), a kind-hearted high school senior whose major conflict involves his football coach, Mitch Kramer (Wiley Wiggins), a teen entering high school who endures some brutal hazing from the seniors, Fred O’Bannion (Ben Affleck), a bully who gets his rocks off on hazing freshmen, and David Wooderson (Matthew McConaughey), whose chasing of high school age redheads knows no bounds.  These four characters are only some of the more than dozen memorable figures created by writer-director Richard Linklater. Dazed and Confused genuinely feels like a day in the life of these young people largely because of the variety of characters featured, and the relatable struggles they’re all navigating.  These characters eventually all come together in the film’s climactic moon tower party scene, which is easily my all-time favorite movie party.  Dazed and Confused is littered with memorable moments like the Abe Lincoln sex dream, the initial hazing of the freshmen boys and girls, and O’Bannion finally getting what’s coming to him after being one of the most grating, mean-spirited characters in the film.  It’s clear that Linklater is writing from the heart, because every single part of Dazed and Confused feels tried and true, from the costumes, to the dialogue, to the film’s incredible soundtrack.  The soundtrack selected for Dazed and Confused serves as a “best of” compilation for rock n roll in the mid-1970’s – featuring iconic songs from Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Foghat, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Deep Purple, and KISS.  The soundtrack has gone down as one of the best in movie history, and for good reason – it perfectly sets the tone of the film, and helps to establish its realistic period setting.  Dazed and Confused is hilarious, poignant, memorable, and just plain fun.  It’s a film I’ve seen dozens of times, and one I find more to love about every time I see it.  

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Top 100 Films #45 – True Romance (1993)

 

true_romance_5#45. True Romance (1993)
Directed by: Tony Scott
Written by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, Michael Rapaport, James Gandolfini

Once upon a time I had the pleasure of calling Tony Scott’s True Romance my all-time favorite film.  It had everything I could ever possibly want in one package – violence, unique performances, humor, and romance.  I’ve seen thousands of films since then, but True Romance still endures as one of my favorites, and for good reason.  We follow hopelessly romantic geek Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) and a call girl named Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette) as they quickly fall in love, get married, and accidentally come into the possession of a large amount of cocaine wanted by the mob.  Clarence and Alabama arrange for the sale of the cocaine to a film producer in Hollywood, setting in motion the violent, inescapable drug deal of the century.  True Romance, written by modern master Quentin Tarantino, is one of the most unique and bizarre romances ever put to film.  Every bit of it is classic Tarantino, down to the main character loving kung-fu movies and comic books, and its use of the classic “lovers on the lamb” structure, paying homage to films like Badlands and Bonnie and Clyde.  The writing is sharp, funny, and very easily builds a cast of very lovable and memorable characters.  While Tarantino didn’t direct the film, Tony Scott’s handling of the material is more than competent, especially in the films sparing action scenes – which were always a specialty of the late Tony Scott.  True Romance has a palpable sense of adventure to it, feeling far larger in scope than other films of the same nature.  Scott’s direction of the very talented cast is top notch, bringing out some incredibly quirky, bizarre performances from the cast – namely Gary Oldman’s gangster pimp Drexl, Brad Pitt’s hilarious couch-potato stoner Floyd, Val Kilmer’s ghostly apparition of Elvis Presley, and Christopher Walken’s violent, unpredictable Don Vincenzo Coccotti.  Our two leads in Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette are perfect for the film – their chemistry is immediate from the very beginning, and sells the entire film from the get-go. Slater’s turn as the geeky Elvis Presley obsessed Clarence is charming and adorable, but also strong and goal-oriented, and Patricia Arquette’s hooker with a heart of gold Alabama is wonderfully funny and naive throughout.  Without the memorable performances from the film’s entire cast, True Romance would have been almost immediately forgotten to time.  The film’s best (and most famous) moment comes in the scene shared between Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken, which features one of the funniest, most tense exchanges of dialogue I’ve ever seen – it’s classic Tarantino.  True Romance is one of the most unique romantic experiences you’ll ever have, but the journey is one you’ll never forget. It’s violent, it’s funny, and it’s charming as hell – it’s a must-see for any Quentin Tarantino fan.

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Women in Film Feature #8 – The Piano (1993)

The-piano-posterThe Piano (1993)
Directed by: Jane Campion
Written by: Jane Campion
Starring: Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Sam Niell, Anna Paquin

New Zealand born film director Jane Campion is one of only four women to ever be nominated for Best Director by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  With her incredibly successful film The Piano, she became the second woman ever nominated for the prize, nearly two decades after Lina Wertmuller’s nomination for her film Seven Beauties.  Campion also became the first female winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s prestigious Palme d’Or – a record that stood for two decades.  Her films have been praised for their quiet beauty, their adherence to realism, and for their use of gender-central themes and ideas.  While her career has not again reached the highs of The Piano, Campion’s latest work on the television show Top of the Lake has highly acclaimed, with a second season currently in the works.  Jane Campion’s achievements in the early 1990’s cannot be understated, as her success helped propel female directors like Sophia Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow to elite status in Hollywood, tremendous critical acclaim, and to their eventual Academy Award nominations.

Before her incredible success with 1993’s The Piano, Jane Campion saw critical acclaim with two independent features, 1989’s Sweetie, and 1990’s An Angel at My Table.  The Piano saw Campion working with a higher budget than ever before, with the film costing $7 million.  The film was an enormous financial success upon its release and critical acclaim, bringing in an incredible $140 million at the box office and later with rentals.  The Piano stars Holly Hunter as its lead character Ada McGrath, Anna Paquin as her daughter Flora, and Sam Neill and Harvey Keitel as the men competing for Ada’s love and affection.  For the role of Ada, director Jane Campion wanted Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Isabelle Huppert.  Due to various scheduling conflicts with Weaver and Leigh, eventual star Holly Hunter was looked at and ended up fighting harder for the role than Huppert did.  The fighting paid off for Holly Hunter, as her incredible silent performance was rewarded with an Academy Award for Best Actress at the 1994 Oscars ceremony, earning her a great deal of acclaim and solidifying her as one of Hollywood’s greatest actresses of the period.  On top of Hunter’s Best Actress win, The Piano earned another acting award, this time a Best Supporting Actress award for Anna Paquin.  At just 11 years old, the win made Paquin the second youngest Oscar winner ever.  The film was nominated for 8 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Costume Design.  Campion herself picked up an award for Best Original Screenplay, but the film was beaten out in other major categories by Steven Spielberg’s seminal film Schindler’s List.  Jane Campion’s The Piano remains one of the most critically hailed films of the 1990’s, and stands as a modern triumph of what women can do with the medium when given equal opportunity to do so.

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Ada McGrath, her daughter Flora, and the titular piano in Jane Campion’s 1993 film.

The Piano opens by explaining that a young, mute Scottish woman named Ada McGrath (Holly Hunter) has been sold by her father for marriage to a man in New Zealand by the name of Alisdair Stewart (Sam Niell).  Ada has not spoken a word since the age of six, and nobody knows exactly why.  Ada brings her daughter Flora (Anna Paquin) with her to New Zealand, along with her prized hand-crafted piano.  The young woman is seemingly only to express herself through the playing of this piano, and she spends much of her time learning and playing.  Once in New Zealand, the mother and daughter duo are taken in by Alisdair, who instructs his crew of Maori men to leave the piano on the beach, as it is far too heavy to carry all the way back to their new home.  Alisdair turns out to be not quite the gentle and charming husband Ada would have preferred, instead quickly becoming quite jealous and controlling over his new wife and daughter.  Ada gradually grows closer to Alisdair’s friend Baines (Harvey Keitel), who in turn purchases the piano and brings it up from the beach so that Ada can play when they are together.  Baines soon falls in love with the mute woman, setting off a chain of events between himself, Ada, and Alisdair and ensuring that none of them will ever be the same again.  Will true love prevail, or will the bitter jealousy of one man ruin things for all parties?  Find out in Jane Campion’s acclaimed The Piano.

Jane Campion’s The Piano was my first experience with her works, and I came out of the experience pleasantly surprised.  I have always wanted to see both Sweetie and An Angel at My Table because of their status as independent hits, and now I have more motivation than ever before to do so.  The Piano is such an incredibly memorable experience in many ways, including some truly incredible performances, terrific direction from Campion, and breathtaking photography by cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh.  The film manages to tell a truly powerful story without ever having its lead character speak, and without sinking into melodramatic territory, which happens too often in stories of love triangles and forbidden romance.  Jane Campion deserves a great deal of credit for her subtle but effective screenplay, which treats every character as a flawed human being, never romanticizing or villainizing any one character no matter how easy it may be to do so.  Campion’s writing never goes for the “easy” win, and instead she opts to take a much more treacherous path in making the audience feel for the character in The Piano.  Campion’s writing and direction can also be credited in aiding the entire cast in delivering highly memorable performances, even earning two Oscars in the process.  Holly Hunter’s silent and moody performance as Ada is one I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget, as she conveys so much without ever saying a word.  Hunter’s dark eyes do all of the speaking for her, telling the audience more in one glance than many actresses could in an entire monologue. Holly Hunter’s Ada is both passionate and reserved, and the audience can always feel the emotional tug-of-war that is trying to drag her into the mud.  The supporting cast of Anna Paquin, Sam Neill, and Harvey Keitel all give tremendous performances in their own right, but are all eclipsed by Hunter’s hauntingly beautiful portrayal of Ada McGrath.  While The Piano can seem slow and dreary at times, there don’t seem to be many wasted moments in the film’s run-time.  Every scene feels like it has a place in either setting the atmosphere of our New Zealand location, establishing the motivations and drives of our cast of characters, or moving the central story forward.  What starts as a relatively mundane costume drama eventually turns into a fiery, brooding story of one woman’s awakening.  Had Campion kept the script’s tragic original ending, the film would have received an even more positive reaction from me.  It’s a shame that it was released the same year as Schindler’s List, because Jane Campion’s The Piano would otherwise fall very neatly into the canon of terrific and important Best Picture winners.

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Flora (Anna Paquin) and Ada (Holly Hunter), the mother-daughter duo in Jane Campion’s The Piano.

While its slow-moving nature may turn off some potential viewers, there’s absolutely no denying the power and importance of Jane Campion’s 1993 romantic drama.  The Piano features too many incredible elements to be forgotten by critics or audiences, including a career-best performance by Holly Hunter, a solid cast of young and veteran supporting performers, tremendous writing and direction from Jane Campion, and rich, dark cinematography by Stuart Dryburgh.  While the idea of a forbidden love triangle may not immediately set your world on fire, the film’s tragic and triumphant story of an independent young woman finding strength and motivation to escape from a toxic situation should be more than enough to arouse your interest.  Jane Campion’s The Piano is easily one of the best films of the 1990’s, and a landmark moment for women in film.  It’s highly recommended.

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Black Directors Feature #8 – Menace II Society (1993)

MPW-26165Menace II Society (1993)
Directed by: Allen Hughes, Albert Hughes
Written by: Tyger Williams (Based on a story by: Allen Hughes, Albert Hughes, Tyger Williams)
Starring: Tyrin Turner, Jada Pinkett, Larenz Tate, Samuel L. Jackson, MC Eiht, Glenn Plummer

Following the enormous success of John Singleton’s hit Boyz n the Hood, films set in South Central Los Angeles were going for a dime a dozen, and the hood drama was becoming all the rage in early 1990’s North America.  In 1993 – just two years following that hit – the Hughes Brothers, Allen and Albert, made their high profile directorial debuts with the surprise hit Menace II Society.  The film takes a great deal of thematic and stylistic inspiration from the aforementioned Boyz n the Hood, which was the case for a great deal of films of the time.  The twin brothers capitalized on its success the same way Gordon Parks Jr. did with Super Fly after his father’s hit Shaft was met with such widespread acclaim.  The pre-production and casting phase of the movie went through various stars before shooting could begin, with hugely popular rappers MC Ren of N.W.A. fame and Tupac Shakur both attached to the project at some point.  Tupac’s involvement is perhaps most notorious, as it resulted in a lawsuit after the hip hop star assaulted one of the film’s directors following a series of arguments about the religious views of one of the film’s primary characters.  The film stars future big names like Jada Pinkett, Samuel L. Jackson, and Larenz Tate.  Shot on a budget of only $3.5 million, Menace II Society was a modest hit at the box office, raking in a very impressive $30 million and ensuring that Allen and Albert would find Hollywood careers soon after. Menace II Society was made with positive reviews upon its release, helping the small production slide into a more mainstream audience.  The film was noted for its gritty portrayal of young black Americans in South Central, holding no punches when it came to the violent content displayed on-screen.  It received an award at the 1993 Independent Spirit Awards, and was regarded by many critics as one of the better films to see a release that year.  The Hughes Brothers have continued to work in Hollywood since their successful debut, directing hits like Dead Presidents, From Hell, and most recently The Book of Eli.  In 2013, Allen Hughes would make his solo directorial debut with Broken City, temporarily leaving Albert to work on projects of his own.

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Tyrin Turner (Caine) and Larenz Tate (O-Dog) in 1993’s Menace II Society.

We follow young Caine Lawson (Tyrin Turner) as he struggles with living life in South Central as a young, underprivileged man of color.  Caine’s father was killed in a drug deal, and his mother is currently a heroin addict.  The young man has grown up with his grandparents, who are proud of what he has accomplished despite everything.  What they don’t yet know is that Caine is a drug dealer himself, and associates himself with a group of young gangbangers.  After being an accessory in a brutal convenience store shooting that his friend Kevin (or O-Dog) (Larenz Tate) triggered, Caine’s life as a young dealer will never again be the same.  After being carjacked and seeing a friend killed, Caine, O-Dog, and A-Wax (MC Eiht) track down the murderers and kill them, furthering the cycle of violence.  Caine and O-Dog are soon recruited by a local thug named Chauncy (Clifton Powell) for more petty crimes, but are arrested after the police are tipped off about their activities.  Caine is suspected by the police for taking part in the convenience store killings, but the evidence is too shaky to prosecute the young man.  Soon after being released, Caine finds out a fling of his has resulted in a pregnancy, and his partnership with Chauncey quickly begins to deteriorate after aggressive behaviour from both parties.  Will Caine and his friends be able to escape from the hood lifestyle that has claimed the lives of so many of their peers, or will the cycle of violence make its way back to them?  Find out in The Hughes Brothers’ Menace II Society.

There’s a lot to admire about The Hughes Brothers’ debut feature, especially because of its status as a first-time project from both men.  Menace II Society feels incredibly competent in the way it’s directed, with its camera never stopping for too long, and instead constantly moving and jumping around as Caine’s situation gets more and more dire.  The editing and cinematography are two more elements to be appreciated, especially because of the relatively low budget of the film.  South Central feels hot and grimy during the movie’s many daytime scenes, with its night scenes giving a sense of dread and mystery lying in the darkness of the hood.  The very large problem with Menace II Society comes in the form of its script, which is far too problematic for this to be a “good” film in my books. Where Boyz n the Hood realistically portrays young people in desperate situations doing desperate things, Menace instead opts for a great deal of incredibly violent sequences that don’t do anything to further the stakes at hand.  There’s absolutely nothing subtle about any moment found in Menace II Society – in fact, I’m not even sure if the film would know the definition of the word.  The characters suffer greatly from poor writing, with not a single character except for Caine’s grandparents and lover being sympathetic in any way. When the violence erupts on screen, you feel absolutely nothing for these young men. There’s no sense of hatred, despair, or empathy – instead, even the most brutal moments are met with a shrug of the shoulders and the hope that maybe the next scene will be more impactful.  But that next impactful scene never comes.  The performances found in the film are surprisingly good, especially given the material they’re left to work with.  The standout performance comes from Larenz Tate, who plays O-Dog.  Tate’s young character is truly despicable in almost every scene of Menace II Society, never making a single good or unselfish decision in his actions.  He views violence as an afterthought, and never seems to hesitate when acting out violently.  Tate’s performance is delightfully fun to watch, despite the very clearly horrific things he’s doing.  Samuel L. Jackson’s brief showing is also a delight, but is ruined by more senseless and emotionless violence found in the film’s screenplay.

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Larenz Tate as O-Dog in The Hughes Brothers’ Menace II Society.

Menace II Society is an ambitious and incredibly well-made directorial debut from two men who clearly have great chemistry together when working behind a camera.  Unfortunately, it learns nothing from its admiration of Boyz n the Hood, and instead uses the opportunity to festishize hood violence.  The film’s script is a tragedy, as it eclipses some very good performances from a talented young cast, and a well-made picture on most technical levels.  If you’re looking for a highly dumbed-down version of Boyz n the Hood, this one may just be up your alley!  If you’re looking for something a little more substantial and meaningful, especially in the realm of African American filmmakers, then I would steer clear.  Menace II Society is not recommended.

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Doctober Feature #4: D.A. Pennebaker Rocks! (Part II) – 101 (1989), The War Room (1993), and Dont Look Back (1967)

D.A. Pennebaker has made such an impact on documentary filmmaking over his fifty-plus year career, and yet I had never seen a single one of his films until just last week.  It is for this reason that I am writing another feature on the man and his terrific films, as I feel few far too few people my age have seen or even heard of his films.  I look forward to seeking out some of his lesser-known films in the future, and even more so being able to see new works from him, starting with his upcoming film Unlocking the Cage, coming out in 2016.  This feature will cover the film that Pennebaker and partner Chris Hegedus considered their “favorite”, 101 (1989), the Academy Award-nominated The War Room (1993), and finally the film that started it all, Dont Look Back (1967).


0018102e_medium101 (1989)

Directed by: D.A. Pennebaker, Chris Hegedus, David Dawkins

Starring: Depeche Mode (Andrew Fletcher, David Gahan, Martin Gore, Alan Wilder)

Having known next to nothing about 1980’s new wave rock band Depeche Mode prior to seeing this documentary, you can imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon anecdotes saying that the masterful D.A. Pennebaker considered this his “favorite” film to make.  Prior to making 101, D.A. Pennebaker was in exactly the same boat as I was, he and partner Chris Hegedus (and David Dawkins) knew little to nothing about the popular English band, and yet came out on the other end more than pleasantly surprised.  The film documents Depeche Mode’s highly successful and epic-scale world tour, ending with their 101st (hence the name of the film) and final show on the long tour.  Not only do we get to see Depeche Mode perform hits from popular albums Black Celebration and Music for the Masses, but we get follow a group of contest winners on their way to the show.  Only the way, Pennebaker and crew allow us  to see the band’s rabid fan base, the lead-up to their show at the Rose Bowl, and backstage interaction between band members, crew members, and many interactions between the young contest winners.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the film’s laid back nature and the live performances featured throughout 101, I wouldn’t say that it made me a Depeche Mode fan, unfortunately.  I very much enjoyed a handful of songs and respect the fact that they were able to pack more than 60,000 rabid fans into the Rose Bowl, but unfortunately 80’s new wave and synthpop just isn’t my cup of tea.  Performances of “Strangelove”, “Everything Counts”, and the famous “Just Can’t Get Enough” were highlights in the film.  On top of terrific live performances and focus on the massive live gate in attendance at the Rose Bowl, Pennebaker has a knack for documenting what other filmmakers would consider mundane.  We are treated to band managers and crew discussing t-shirt bills, the live attendance numbers, arguing about whether the Rose Bowl is appropriate for a live music show of such large scale, etc., all of which makes the documentary feel that much more important compared to other contemporary music/concert films.  While I’m not the biggest fan of Depeche Mode, I can absolutely appreciate what Pennebaker, Hegedus, and Dawkins were going for with 101, and I can say without a doubt that Depeche Mode fans will get a lot out of this. Recommended.


The War Room (1993)the-war-room-movie-poster-1993-1020198303

Directed by: D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus

Starring: Bill Clinton, George Stephanopoulos, James Carville, Hether Beckel, George H.W. Bush

If there’s any one subject that is more fascinating behind-the-scenes than music, politics is absolutely it.  In The War Room, D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus turn the camera to the New Hampshire Primary in the early 1990’s, specifically the campaign managers James Carville and George Stephanopoulos, who are looking to pull out a big win for hopeful Democratic nominee Bill Clinton.  The War Room allows the audience to take a backstage look at attacks on Bill Clinton’s character, specifically the Gennifer Flowers scandal, as well as the other side of things with the false “No new taxes” promise by then-President George H.W. Bush.  Pennebaker and Hegedus show a world rarely seen by the public, especially in the early 1990’s, a world where few people had access to computers, and even less had access to the internet as we know it today.  We see frustrations, campaigns, event planning and coordination, and most importantly we get to see people acting like people.  The War Room takes a look a few very important figures, and paints them as people, not politicians, not campaign managers, just normal, (mostly) lovable people.

If you know anything about me at all, then it should come as no surprise for you that I absolutely adored The War Room.  This look at the behind-the-scenes marketing and coordination of a major American Primary is right up my alley in every possible sense.  Pennebaker and Hegedus manage to show tremendously important events in the 1992 Clinton Campaign, and yet everything is treated with the same weight and levity, whether it’s Gennifer Flowers claiming to have had a love affair with Senator Clinton, or whether it’s James Carville and George Stephanopoulos developing a rapport and joking with one another, and becoming excited and frustrated with certain revelations throughout the campaign.  The War Room is only ninety six minutes long, but I felt like I could have watched the events unfold for another ninety.  The time breezes by with the help of a razor sharp directorial eye from Pennebaker and Hegedus, lovable subjects in Clinton, Carville, and Stephanopoulos (as well as the entirety of the campaign office), and an inherently interesting and important topic in political campaigning.  Throughout the short run-time of The War Room, D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus manage to tick every box for me, making their Academy Award-nominated documentary one of their most personal and most important films, and easily my favorite documentary of the bunch. The War Room gets my highest recommendation.


dont-look-back-movie-poster-1967-1020144136Dont Look Back (1967)

Directed by: D.A. Pennebaker

Starring: Bob Dylan

Dont Look Back is quite possibly D.A. Pennebaker’s most critically acclaimed and culturally significant documentary, influencing the next fifty years of music videos, concert films, and documentaries as a whole. Pennebaker’s early film chronicles Bob Dylan’s 1965 London, UK tour, showing live performances, audience interaction, and focuses on Dylan’s inner-circle and on the young prodigy himself.  The film was so critically acclaimed and influential because nothing quite like it had ever been seen before.  Documentary films have been around since the birth of the medium, but nothing quite this raw, focusing solely on a highly acclaimed and incredibly popular cultural icon had ever been produced on this scale.  The film opens up with the music video that would influence generations, Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, which shows the folk singer using a set of cue cards to convey the lyrics of the song to the audience, discarding them rapidly as the song goes on.  On top of the influential and groundbreaking music video, Pennebaker takes a behind the scenes look at Dylan’s tour, showing the folk legend verbally sparring with a TIME Magazine correspondent, interacting with other artists and journalists, signing autographs for young, adoring fans, and interacting with audiences at his lives shows on the tour.

Despite all the acclaimed and influential elements of D.A. Pennebaker’s Dont Look Back, I’m still not sure exactly how I feel about the film.  To be blunt, Bob Dylan came off exactly how you would imagine a young, outspoken, successful artist might come across in their first major appearance on camera – Dylan was incredibly condescending, rude, and ambitious in his words to the point of pretension (a word I really don’t like to use).  Dylan’s condescension in nearly every appearance he made on screen had a tremendously negative effect on my viewing of the film.  As much as I appreciate the man and what he did for music as a whole, Dont Look Back only decreased my liking for Bob Dylan as a person.  I’m willing to accept the fact that it was because Dylan was young, naive, and influenced by the power he held over youth all over the Western world, but I still can’t entirely look past his behavior in the film.  Despite this, the film did absolutely have some incredibly memorable scenes, including a group of young girls excitedly meeting Dylan, with one exclaiming “pinch me – me dreams have come true!”.  The meetings between Dylan’s manager and journalists were also very interesting to watch unfold, as it’s an element most music documentaries seem to gloss over.  Dylan’s musical performances are highlights as well, as are his quips during the performances.  As much as I disliked him throughout the documentary, there’s no denying just how charismatic and charming the young Bob Dylan was.  When the credits rolled, I was left appreciating D.A. Pennebaker’s influential documentary, but left cold as far as the subject matter goes.  For fans of Bob Dylan, music journalism, and those who hold documentaries in high-esteem, I would implore you seek this film out. Otherwise, you may leave feeling the same way I did.  Dont Look Back is cautiously recommended.

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