Bob Dylan Revealed
directed by Joel Gilbert
starring Joel Gilbert
Highway 61 Entertainment
Bob Dylan is revealed to be… Joel Gilbert.
And who is Joel Gilbert? One the one hand, he’s a Dylan obsessive, making a series of films on Bob: Bob Dylan 1966 World Tour, The Home Movies: Through the Camera of Mickey Jones, Bob Dylan World Tours 1966-1974: Through the Camera of Barry Feinstein, Bob Dylan 1975-1981: Rolling Thunder and The Gospel Years, Inside Bob Dylan’s Jesus Years: Busy Being Born… Again!, and Bob Dylan Never Ending Tour Diaries: Drummer Winston Watson’s Incredible Journey. Quite an impressive amount of work, until you realize they are all basically the same movie, with the same rotating cast of those on the periphery of the man himself. In fact, much of Bob Dylan Revealed is just a combination of the other movies in a amateurish looking “documentary.”
He’s also the leader of a Bob Dylan tribute band, Highway 61, featuring… all the same people from his movies: Rob Stoner, bassist on Dylan’s “Rolling Thunder Review,” Scarlet Rivera, violinist on Desire and several Dylan tours, and drummer for Dylan’s “Never Ending Tour” Winston Watson.
He’s also a contributor to the fringe far-right, Zionist website Newsmax.com as a “Middle Eastern studies specialist,” which means, well, not much, unless you’re the sort to take Newsmax seriously, which most people don’t. In this vein he’s released the film Atomic Jihad, subtitled Ahmadinejad’s Coming War for Islamic Revival and Obama’s Politics of Defeat. Enough said about that.
And last but not least, he’s the producer/director of Paul McCartney Really Is Dead: The Last Will and Testament of George Harrison? where we’re supposed to believe that a mysterious package arrived at the offices of his production company containing cassette tapes of Harrison’s will, in which Gilbert claims the former Beatle spills the truth: that Paul actually died in that car crash in 1969. Uh huh.
Despite the aura of cheese and distortion that emanates from it, Bob Dylan Revealed does have some interesting moments, such as interviews with the legendary Jerry Wexler, producer of Dylan’s Slow Train Coming (“I was expecting Bob Dylan, not this wall to wall Jesus”), or Muscle Shoals mainstay, keyboardist and songwriter Spooner Oldham. And footage of Dylan playing recorder at a Chabad Telethon is fascinating, but you can see that here.
Balancing that is the endless prattle from the drummer on Dylan’s groundbreaking 1966 tour, Mickey Jones, who replaced Levon Helm in The Band for the tour. Or the too cool Rob Stoner, in black Ray-Bans, saving Dylan’s career in the mid-’70s almost singlehandly, and “Dylanologist” AJ Weberman, whom you might recall as the guy whose ass Dylan kicked in the ’70s for rummaging through his garbage and reporting the findings. So in the end, Bob Dylan Revealed does nothing of the sort, instead just regurgitates oft-heard anecdotes from a small rotating cast of almost-weres and used-to-be’s. Bob Dylan has revealed himself a million times in his songs, in a million different ways. That’s what makes him Dylan — and fascinating. Despite Gilbert’s dressing like Dylan in the interviews, inserting his “tribute” music into the score, and making endless rehashed films about the man, he’s not Dylan. Nor fascinating.
Highway 61: www.highway61ent.com