That’s Your Fault, Pal

“Movies, I’ve seen hundreds of them. How many of them stay with you? Shane, Red River, On the Waterfront, Freaks? Maybe a handful of others… I saw one the other night, as soon as it was over, I couldn’t remember a thing about it. Seemed real important at the time though.” — Bob Dylan talking to Cameron Crowe, 1985.

In other words Dylan, born in 1941, had his movie-watching pores open the widest when he was young. If he caught the above in theatres he was 7 when he saw Red River in ’48, 12 when he saw Shane in ’53, and 13 when he saw On The Waterfront. He presumably saw Freaks on the tube or at the Bleecker Street Cinema in the early ’60s.

There is endless, infinite value in great, very good or at least noteworthy creativity. Quality cinema will ebb and flow, but it happens constantly to varying degrees. So the filmmakers with talent are covering their end. It is the responsibility of the viewer to keep him or herself sufficiently attuned and receptive to the good stuff. Same with music, books, fine art, etc.

  • Ray

    I’m dense, is this a CRITICISM of Dylan?

    It’s not like he wasn’t BUSY doing other things or anything. Or on drugs.

    But Dylan sucks for missing out on BEACH BLANKET BINGO.

  • DiscoNap

    Was it possible the movie starred Gregory Peck? Might be the reason for his cloudiness. He’ll watch anything with him in it.

    (Sasha has my undying affection after her Brownsville Girl reference a few weeks back on the podcast.)

  • MickTravisMcGee

    Bob Dylan just posted a rebuttal on his blog, reminding Wells that new interviews get posted all the time. The one cited in this critique is 27 years old….

  • Floyd Thursby

    JW: What recent books and music do you like?

  • ElstonGunnAICN

    A link to your post, Jeff, referring to the Rolling Stone article where Dylan talks up Ford and the old studio system:

    http://hollywood-elsewhere.com/2009/05/strange_affinit.php

  • Raising_Kaned

    Everyone has their medium/art form of choice…Dylan doesn’t really sound like he’s much of a “Movie Catholic,” and that’s certainly O.K.

    I mean — I guess I can see how you would be disappointed by this response, but the truth of the matter is that a lot (maybe even a plurality or majority?) of artists are too busy consuming a need to create than creating a need to consume.

    I realize that it’s still a trendy thing amongst cinephiles to quote Godard (especially that line about making a film being the ultimate form of criticism), but his art-as-criticism/criticism-as-art manifesto was even extreme for his era, and it’s all but completely obsolete now in the mainstream culture.

  • ROTC

    “…as soon as it was over, I couldn’t remember a thing about it. Seemed real important at the time though.”

    My exact reaction to The Artist.

  • roland1824

    Where did he suggest that he is not attuned or receptive to new and current films? He only said that few have stayed with him over the years. ( I could say the same about his records.)

  • Jason S.

    Read somewhere that Dylan loved La Dolce Vita. Had a thing with a fine young bit player from that movie too.

  • Gaydos

    Jeff: I can’t believe that you seem to be NOT acknowledging the downturn in memorable American filmmaking.

    For all kinds of reasons, financial, social, arcane, obvious, we have a shallow pool in which to find the kind of fish Dylan was celebrating from his childhood.

    SINGING BEHIND SCREENS by Ermanno Olmi knocked my socks off a few years ago when it came out, as did Olmi’s ONE HUNDRED NAILS as did THE LIVES OF OTHERS. As did Ken Loach’s RAINING STONES. etc etc etc

    I wasn’t 12 years old when I saw any of them.

    Why blame the moviegoer(s) for the sins of the production system?

  • Rashad

    Because to think there haven’t been great movies made during that time, is asinine.

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