Posted: June 27, 2007

Borgata Bob

From Dan DeLuca's In the Mix

I saw Bob Dylan play guitar at the Borgata on Friday. That wouldn't seem to be such an odd thing, but Dylan, in his mysterious way, hasn't handled a six-string in these parts for quite some time. For the last several years on his Neverending Tour, he's hidden out, stage left, leaning on a barely audible keyboard, spurring speculation that he had a bad back, or arthritis, or that he was just being perverse and playing piano because he was Bob Dylan and that's what he felt like doing.

I wasn't aware that, with no explanation, he had started playing guitar again on his European tour dates this spring. So I was quite taken aback to see the skinny old Bard with a feather in his broad- brimmed white Renaldo and Clara hat (though without the whiteface makeup), and an electric guitar strapped around his neck.

He only kept it there for four tunes - "Cat's in the Well," "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," "Watching the River Flow," and an "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" that sounded much perkier than when A.J. heard it before his SUV caught fire on The Sopranos a couple of weeks back.

After that, Dylan took shelter behind the keyboard again, which was perfectly OK with me. It gave guitarist Denny Freeman and multi-instrumentalist Donnie Herron (the guy from BR549) room to move. Dylan was particularly spry and engaged the rest of the night. He even smiled a couple of times, I think, during "Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again."

He tore me up with two songs: a beautiful and slowed-down "Shelter From the Storm" that he sang as if he was actually emotionally invested in what the lyrics meant, and "Nettie Moore," from last year's Modern Times, which gently rattled and stomped as he sang about irrevocable heartbreak: "I loved you then and ever shall, but there's no one left here to tell/ The world has gone black before my eyes."

AFI rankings and ranklings

From Carrie Rickey's Flickgrrl

In Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, the title character loses the election, but the movie inevitably gets voted the best American film ever, as it did last Wednesday when the results of the American Film Institute's top 100 films were revealed on CBS. Here are the Top 10: 1. Citizen Kane; 2. The Godfather; 3. Casablanca; 4. Raging Bull; 5. Singin' in the Rain; 6. Gone With the Wind; 7. Lawrence of Arabia; 8. Schindler's List; 9. Vertigo; 10. The Wizard of Oz.

These titles are classics for good reason, even though I'm more partial to Coppola's Godfather II (ranked No. 32) and Hitchcock's North by Northwest (ranked No. 55) than the films by those directors that made the Top 10. Still, I scan the list and ask: Best-Films-Ever? Certainly the most popular, as the new additions to the Top 100 list last compiled in 1997 include Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, Saving Private Ryan, Titanic, and The Sixth Sense.

I would say half the films on the Top 100 - Titanic is not one of them - combine popularity with resonance and universality and would probably get my vote. I'm happy The Searchers vaulted from No. 96 on the last AFI Top 100 to No. 12 here. Happy that films made in the last 30 years (Raging Bull and Schindler's List) cracked the Top 10.

But as with most elections, the best candidate might not get nominated. I'm one of the 1,500 movie professionals who cast a ballot. There were 400 titles nominated and we each got five write-ins. It rankled that of the 400 that made the nominations cut, only 4 1/2 were directed by women. I can't remember how many were directed by people of color, but it was even fewer. (One, Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, ranked No. 98 at the final count.)

There is more gender parity when it comes to actors and actresses represented: Robert De Niro, Jimmy Stewart, Faye Dunaway, Katharine Hepburn and Diane Keaton are represented by three or more films. Steven Spielberg is the most-repped director (five titles), with Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick and Billy Wilder each with three films and Frank Capra, Charlie Chaplin, Francis Coppola, John Huston and Martin Scorsese also with three apiece.

Which movies do you most wish made the list? Which movies do you most wish hadn't? I know the AFI's mission is American film, but would the list be more useful if it included foreign films?

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