The Home Movies

Review by Mark Wiechman

Stars:  Bob Dylan, Joel Gilbert, Barry Feinstein, A.J. Weberman, D.A. Pennebaker
Director:  Joel Gilbert
Audio:  Dolby Stereo
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio:  Music Studio Distribution
Features:  None
Length:  120 minutes
Release Date:  March 8, 2005

Film *

It is fascinating to see the diversity in DVD releases in the market today.  Excellent documentaries, films, and TV shows which may not have been available on VHS or were never shown to the public before are available in digitally refurbished glory.  Directors know that if their vision is not realized fully in a theatrical release, they can always release a different version to DVD with their commentary on the how and why of every minute detail.  Two or even four discs can be filled with music, commentary, special documentaries, and moving from one scene to another has never been easier.  Filmmakers can plan for DVD release after the theatrical release like a birthday party right after Christmas.

The downside to this boom is that DVDs are often released which would not have even made it to television or VHS and for good reason.  This DVD is in that category.

The full title of this DVD is accurate, but it opens with color shots of Dylan in concert with concert noises playing and no music ever happens.  It is a teaser with nothing else.  I cannot help thinking this whole production should have been just liner notes to a CD or a brief book, not a two hour DVD release. 

The music is by Highway 61 Revisited, Gilbert’s band.  Granted, the DVD does say no Dylan songs are on it, but I did not realize until I started watching it that it is nothing more than a series of interviews with friends and associates of Dylan and many good pictures that speak for themselves.  I just assumed no one would make such a film.   It is valuable only as a time capsule of interviews with people who may not be with us much longer, but nothing more.  Granted, most of the 150 or so images here have not been published anywhere else, and they are nice photos, but they speak for themselves and are hardly “fascinating” as the back jacket claims. 

Bob Dylan’s place in music history was already secure when Barry Feinstein took many photos of him on these tours, and his insight into Dylan himself is interesting, but only marginally so.  For example, most of the film is just a seemingly irritated Feinstein talking, then a photo is briefly shown, and this is repeated.  He often explains what is happening in a particular picture, which is usually not necessary.   Director Joel Gilbert asks many good questions of Feinstein and other friends of Dylan, but he makes the classic mistake of inserting himself into the film. 

Conducting the interviews himself is fine, but he also films himself walking around New York (city and state) which Dylan frequented, and as much as I love New York, I could not help asking over and over again, “so what?”  Gilbert seems more interested in familiar parts of the most famous city on Earth than Jim Garrison was in the grassy knoll, as if Dylan was such a mystery.   Dylan is alive and (more or less) well---why watch this when Dylan is still around?

These problems could be overlooked except that it gets worse.  While the segment about Dylan’s mysterious motorcycle accident is pretty interesting, scenes of Gilbert getting on and off a motorcycle, revving it, and driving off interrupt the interview over and over again.  How is this similar to Dylan’s accident?  Who knows?  He does not even keep the interview going while getting on and off the cycle.  This repeated annoyance seems to be designed to add to the excitement, but only deadens the impact of the whole film.  

Video **

Panning of the photos is nice, but the interviews are shot rather in-your-face with little alternation of angles.  The local news is better.

Audio **

Serviceable during interviews, but as noted above, it is hard to watch a documentary about a musician when his music is not in it.

Features (zero stars)



With minimally good editing, this film would have been a somewhat interesting thirty minute segment.  I only recommend this for hard core Dylan fans, who may already know much of this information and have seen similar photos anyway.

FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from freestats.com