ROLLING THUNDER REVUE: A BOB DYLAN STORY BY MARTIN SCORSESE (Martin Scorsese, 2019)
260 West 23rd St.
Thursday, November 7, 9:15
Festival runs November 6-15
“I wouldn’t say it was a traditional revue but it was in the traditional form of a revue — that’s all clumsy bullshit,” Bob Dylan says at the beginning of Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese, a documentary about the legendary 1975-76 tour led by Bob with a collection of special guests. “I’m trying to get to the core of what this Rolling Thunder thing is all about, and I don’t have a clue, because it’s about nothing. It’s just something that happened forty years ago. . . . I don’t remember a thing about Rolling Thunder. I mean, it happened so long ago I wasn’t even born. So what do you want to know?” he asks with a wry smile. Scorsese, whose 2005 documentary No Direction Home focused on Dylan’s early years, now takes viewers behind the scenes and onstage of the infamous tour, in which Dylan donned face paint and wore a mask and a southwestern hat with flowers. Along with a load of anecdotes, the film features electrifying versions of such songs as “One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below),” “Love Minus Zero / No Limit,” “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” “She Belongs to Me,” “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry,” “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall,” “The Ballad of Ira Hayes,” and “Romance in Durango,” among many others.
And what a cast it has: Allen Ginsberg as the Oracle of Delphi, Patti Smith as the Punk Poet, Martin von Haselberg as the Filmmaker, Scarlet Rivera as the Queen of Swords, Joan Baez as the Balladeer, Roger McGuinn as the Minstrel, Larry “Ratso” Sloman as the Rolling Stone Reporter, Jim Gianopulos as the Promoter, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott as the Sailor, Sam Shepard as the Writer, David Mansfield as the Innocent, Sharon Stone as the Beauty Queen, Ronnie Hawkins as the Shitkicker, Anne Waldman as the Word Worker, Ronee Blakley as the Ingénue, Joni Mitchell as the Artist, Chief Rolling Thunder as the Medicine Man, Chief Mad Bear as the Chief, Peter La Farge as the Cowboy Indian, Michael Murphy as the Politician, and Rubin “Hurricane” Carter as the Boxer. The film debuted on Netflix but will look and sound much better in a theater; it is screening November 7 at Cinepolis Chelsea as part of the DOC NYC festival and will be followed by a discussion with producer Margaret Bodde and executive producer/editor David Tedeschi.