BOB DYLAN: 1978-1989 – BOTH ENDS OF THE RAINBOW (V)(Runtime: 127; MPAA Rating: NR; Chrome Dreams Media; 2008)
“It’s tedious stuff unless you give a damn about Dylan and have a need for such a detailed examination of the enigmatic rock icon during that era of his tumultuous mid-life changes.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A talky Bob Dylan documentary that attempts to put him on the couch and analyze what went wrong with the controversial entertainer from the period of 1978 to 1989. It mixes rare footage, live and studio recordings, and exclusive interviews with rock critics and those who worked with him in the studio as musicians, producers or sound engineers. It’s tedious stuff unless you give a damn about Dylan and have a need for such a detailed examination of the enigmatic rock icon during that era of his tumultuous mid-life changes, where the Jewish born Dylan apparently saw a vision in a Tucson hotel of Jesus and became evangelical. This conversion proved deadly to his career, as his fan base from the 1960s felt insulted that his new Christian fundamentalist fervor put them down for their secularism and told them they would burn in hell for not being believers and it seemed to repudiate that he was the doyen of the new rock age.
It tells of his career setback with the poorly received 1979 album Slow Train Coming, which was followed shortly afterwards with the even more disastrous and self-righteous preachy Saved. This didactic message album, his worst album ever, was a nod to his new beliefs he practiced at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship. The ill-will caused by this antagonistic album that basically said “fuck you” to his rock fans, kept him off the top hit charts throughout the 1980s until his Oh Mercy album in 1989. That album reestablished that Dylan was still the artist and could write songs that had the passion to self-examine himself and the times we live in. It featured one of his best songs ‘Most of the Time,’ the old type of Dylan questioning song called “Political World” and the pleasing song ‘Man in the Long Black Coat,’ used in a Sergio Leone spaghetti western.
If you’re in the need to know how Dylan made his last Christian themed album of the “Shot of Love” then this is the film for you. It also traces his other albums of the 1980s such as the 1983 “Infidels”–a return to rock music and an admission that the fundamentalism wasn’t working out well with his declining musical career, followed by the horrible Empire Burlesque album, followed in 1986 by the equally retched “Knocked Out Loaded” album, in 1987 a critically panned live album with Dylan and the Grateful Dead, and in 1988 with the disappointing attempt to modernize him as a 1980s man with the dreadful 1988 album of “Down in Groove.” Dylan was rescued from his bad judgment when George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison stayed in his Malibu home and recorded in the studio some laid-back “backporch” music in an album called The Traveling Wilburys, an easygoing album that was loved equally by critics and the public and signaled the chameleon Dylan’s rehabilitation back to his root music had begun in earnest.
REVIEWED ON 7/8/2008 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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