Decades in the making, the release of Martin Scorsese’s Rolling Thunder Revue is cause for celebration. This long anticipated look at Bob Dylan’s 1975 tour is being released in select theatres and on Netflix, documenting the tour of the East Coast where the venerable entertainer played smaller venues and created a kind of Gypsy-themed, grass-roots concert jaunt, has long been considered legendary by Dylanologists of all stripes.
For casual fans or neophytes, however, this is a highly confusing place to start out. Rolling Thunder was a kind of anti-tour, a direct reaction to the stadium shows that Bob performed with the Band the year before. In these massive shows he refocused many of his songs for the rock stadium crowd, embodying the spirit of that age when the shows began to overwhelm the performers. These were his first live performances since 1966, where during that period with the members of the Band (then known as The Hawks) Dylan stormed the U.S., Canada and Europe, with sets that began with acoustic familiarity and then slammed with electrified presence, prompting one patron to famously shout “Judas!”at the blasphemic sounds emitting from a once deified “protest singer”.
In other words, Rolling Thunder was a show that was a reaction to another show that was a reaction to another series of events that saw Dylan rise from the coffee houses of Greenwich Village to become the spokesperson for a generation. Even his musical arrangements during Rolling Thunder were radical departures from what came before that only lived during this era, making them almost unrecognizable from their origins. In the same way that appreciating a cover song is often heightened by knowing what it was based upon, so do does much of the Rolling Thunder experience flourish the more one apprehends just what Dylan and his posse are riffing on.
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Kantemir Balagov’s bleak, brilliant Beanpole tells a very different story about the aftermath of the Second World War than what we’re used to seeing. Few countries were more violently affected than the Soviet Union, and this tale of the effect on the postbellum populace does justice to the scars left by the conflagration. The result is an emotionally shattering portrayal of two women and their struggles to adjust to their civilian lives. Read More »
At the outset, the concept of The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil is the stuff of genre genius – a hard-nosed, irascible cop and tough guy crime boss become allies to combat a shared enemy when a knife-wielding serial killer comes to town. Lee Won-tae’s film has such an extraordinary premise, ripe for exploration, that it can’t help but feel a little bit disappointing when such a relatively straightforward flick is the result. Read More »
There’s always a danger stepping into a genre where masterpieces have already been firmly established. Make a boxing movie and you’re up against either Rocky or Raging Bull, and however hard you try, you’re going to be under the shadows of the established canon. So perhaps the oddest thing about Marco Bellocchio’s mafia film The Traitor is how it pretends a certain saga by Francis Ford Coppola never existed. This might have made it easier for the director to sleep at night, but it also helps make the film falter. Read More »
There’s something to be said about the blissfulness of ignorance. Festivals are prime places to be able to go into a film cold, often not even knowing the title, let alone the subject and synopsis. Give me a movie and I’ll apprehend, no matter what, and hopefully find something to fall for. This rarefied way of seeing Elia Suleiman’s It Must Be Heaven proved heavenly, and there’s perhaps no better way of seeing this charming, sweet and intelligent film. Read More »
There’s something satisfyingly convoluted about Diao Yinan’s delightfully dense film The Wild Goose Lake, Cannes Film Festivalwhich recently played at the . Named after a vacation spot where the film is set, it’s a land of motorcycle thieves and bathing beauties, a criminal element living in a kind of mild truce with the local police. Read More »
I always figured there was no better case for birth control than being on a long flight with someone else’s screaming child. Vivarium ups the ante, finding domestic bliss even more harrowing in this clever yet frustrating Cannes Film Festival selection by Irish director Lorcan Finnegan. Read More »
A Portrait of a Lady on Fire is, as the title evokes, an artistically rich and provocative film out of Cannes, one where the passions and obsessions of two women ignite in ways rarely seen on screen. A tour-de-force film by director Céline Sciamma, the film is both evocative and enervating, casting a spell on the audience that feels as dreamlike as the Britany seaside location. Read More »
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Mati Diop’s Atlantics is notable for a number of reasons. First, it’s the first film from a black woman to ever play in competition in the Cannes film festival, a notable achievement in and of itself. Second, it’s tied to a number of other films at this festival that twist genres, incorporating elements from horror and thriller film into what’s ostensibly a story of lost love, where the ghosts of the past continue to haunt those left behind.
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Ira Sach’s Frankie is a light, lovely film about complicated family dynamics and coming to terms with mortality. With a formidable cast anchored by Isabelle Huppert, the sun-dappled setting and multi-generational storyline makes for a relaxed, enjoyable visit with this extended onscreen family.
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