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Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese

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eward

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Bob Dylan, Martin Scorsese Reunite for ‘Rolling Thunder’ Film, Coming to Netflix in 2019 (EXCLUSIVE)

Netflix describes Scorsese's look at Dylan and famous friends in '75 as part documentary, part concert movie and part "fever dream."

For years, rumors have circulated among Bob Dylan fans that a documentary about his legendary, star-studded “Rolling Thunder Revue” tour of 1975-76 was in the works, and occasional whispers had a name attached: Martin Scorsese. Now, the cat can come officially out of the bag. Variety has exclusively learned that Netflix plans to release the movie in 2019, with the director’s name actually in the title: “Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese.”

The tightly-under-wraps project is said not to be quite as much of a straightforward documentary as Scorsese’s previous Dylan film, 2005’s “No Direction Home: Bob Dylan,” which zeroed in on Dylan’s crucial 1965-66 “going electric” period. “There’s a reason the word ‘story’ appears in the title,” said a source, hinting that the director may be playing with the form more in this particular film.

Upon further inquiry, Netflix provided Variety with a thumbnail description of the film that ups the tantalizing ante. “’Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese’ captures the troubled spirit of America in 1975 and the joyous music that Dylan performed during the fall of that year. Part documentary, part concert film, part fever dream, ‘Rolling Thunder’ is a one of a kind experience, from master filmmaker Martin Scorsese.”

No release date has been set. When Variety asked about a rumor that the film might appear as early as this spring, a source countered that, saying that even the announcement of a premiere date remains “months away.”

One of the few details Netflix did confirm about the movie is that Dylan himself was interviewed for it, which doesn’t necessarily go without saying, since the artist rarely allows himself to be interviewed off-camera, let alone on. A participant in the Rolling Thunder Revue tour confirmed to Variety that many of the alumni of that period have done interviews for the movie over the past few years, with most if not all of them conducted by Dylan’s longtime manager, Jeff Rosen, as was the case with “No Direction Home.”

The list of names we might see in the film, whether in present-day interviews or just vintage footage, is a fairly mind-boggling one. The Rolling Thunder Revue was conceived as a sort of loose caravan that involved the presence of poets and writers as well as past and future music luminaries. And all of them were presumably caught on film, as Dylan prepared his infamous “Renaldo and Clara” movie as well as a TV special. Among the tour participants: Joan Baez (reuniting with Dylan for duets after a long gap), band leader Bob Neuwirth, Roger McGuinn, T Bone Burnett, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Ronee Blakley, Mick Ronson, Scarlet Rivera, Allen Ginsberg and Sam Shepard (who published a book about the tour in 1977). Others showing up for isolated shows or appearing in the studio included Joni Mitchell, Ringo Starr, Patti Smith, Bette Midler, Kinky Friedman, Dennis Hopper and Phil Ochs.

It’s not known whether all these faces will appear in the movie, especially as Netflix’s description indicates the film will focus on the fall 1975 tour, when the loose ensemble was said to be at its ramshackle best, and not necessarily the spring 1976 follow-up, when different guests came aboard and reviews indicated the collective had lost some of its charm.

The “fever dream” aspect of Netflix’s thumbnail description may lead buffs to wonder if Scorsese will be borrowing a few cues from Dylan’s “Renaldo and Clara” film, which received only a brief release in 1978 and has never been released on home video, aside from bootlegs. Although the initial four-hour cut was hardly well received, the fictional vignettes that were shot for the project continue to be a source of fascination for Dylan buffs. (Dylan’s then-wife, Sara, played Clara, while Blakley played “Mrs. Dylan,” in one example of the vintage film’s mischief.) The more theatrical nature of the 1975 shows was heightened by Dylan appearing in whiteface in many of them.

If it does turn out to be an autumn release, that would dovetail nicely with unconfirmed expectations that the film will be coupled with a boxed set of unreleased material that would be part of the “Bootleg Series” that Sony Music puts out a new installment of every fall. At one point, both these things seemed destined for last fall. In 2017, without mentioning Scorsese’s involvement, a source in the Dylan camp told Rolling Stone that a Rolling Thunder documentary and accompanying “Bootleg Series” set might come out in the fall of 2018, possibly incorporating material from Dylan’s adjacent “Blood on the Tracks” period. That rough plan obviously changed, as the “Blood” recordings got their own dedicated box this past November, leaving the door wide open for “Thunder” to get its multi-disc due in 2019. But Netflix and Sony have not confirmed plans for a soundtrack or accompanying set.

Assuming that a “Rolling Thunder” boxed set will appear, it will be the first time the “Bootleg Series” has returned to an era already covered in Dylan’s archival collections. The third release in the series, back in 2002, was “Bob Dylan Live 1975: The Rolling Thunder Revue,” but that was a mere two-disc set structured pretty much like a straight live album, and was thought of by fans as a lost opportunity, before the “Bootlegs” began expanding to six or eight discs at a clip. There are few other eras in Dylan’s vault that buffs are as eager to see opened up, and the fact that most or all of these gigs were professionally filmed as well as recorded has whet appetites for more than 40 years.

“Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese” is not the only thing on the titular filmmaker’s plate in 2019, of course: He’s also been working with Netflix on “The Irishman,” a project that was announced four and a half years ago. That may be nothing compared to how long the Dylan film has been in the works, with some saying they were interviewed for the project as long ago as the late 2000s. “Irishman” is the one with a budget reported to be $140 million or more, but don’t tell Dylan fans that “Rolling Thunder” won’t also be epic.
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Fuck The Irishman, this is the Scorsese film I've been waiting years for! If this were to coincide, say, with a Criterion Blu-ray box-set release of Renaldo & Clara, I'd be a very happy boy indeed.
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Nails9

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Reply #1 on: January 11, 2019, 09:27:34 PM
Hell Yes.
WKBB*I/S*NotTP*SSotCB*OS & r.i.p.b.m.


eward

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Reply #2 on: April 25, 2019, 04:40:48 PM
Martin Scorsese’s Bob Dylan Tour Doc Gets Netflix Release Date

Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese is out in June

In January, Netflix announced that the legendary Martin Scorsese would direct a new concert documentary following Bob Dylan’s iconic Rolling Thunder Revue tour. Now, a release date has been set. Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese will hit the streaming platform as well as select theaters on June 12.

Described as “part documentary, part concert film, part fever dream,” the film will feature on-camera interviews with Dylan and footage of the 1975-1976 tour that saw the singer-songwriter perform with artists such as Joan Baez, T-Bone Burnett, Mick Ronson, and more. Check out the new poster below.

The performances found in the Netflix doc will also be compiled on a new box set, Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings. The 14xCD collection will gather 148 tracks from the five Dylan sets that were professionally recorded. It arrives June 7 as a companion piece to the film.

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eward

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Reply #3 on: June 03, 2019, 11:56:40 AM
Aaaand I'm weeping.

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Drenk

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Reply #4 on: June 03, 2019, 12:01:51 PM
You know what? Life isn't real. I was thinking about this movie a few hours ago in the train, while listening to Dylan for the first time in months.
I'm so many people.


eward

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Reply #5 on: June 03, 2019, 12:19:08 PM
Already got my tickets for next Wednesday at Lincoln Center. Gonna don a cowboy hat and some white face paint.

...while listening to Dylan for the first time in months.

What, pray tell, did you listen to?
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Drenk

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Reply #6 on: June 03, 2019, 12:33:13 PM
There's something absolutely fascinating about his face at this period.


Oh. Some Blonde on Blonde.
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Robyn

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Reply #7 on: June 03, 2019, 12:59:25 PM
Looks sooo good!!


eward

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Reply #8 on: June 03, 2019, 01:26:37 PM
I can't stop watching it!
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eward

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Reply #9 on: June 11, 2019, 01:36:19 PM
News from the (old) front, via Larry "Ratso" Sloman himself on Rolling Thunder (POTENTIAL SPOILERS I DUNNO):

Bob Dylan, jailhouse phone calls and a movie from hell: My life with the Rolling Thunder Revue

By LARRY "RATSO" SLOMAN

After graduating from Queens College in 1969, I went to graduate school in Madison, Wis., where I received a master’s in deviance and criminology. The degree came in handy when I returned to New York and started doing music journalism for Rolling Stone.

One day in October of 1974, I was walking down Fifth Avenue when I saw a guy sitting behind the wheel of his parked car. The guy was Bob Dylan. I had recently spied some papers on a publicist’s desk at Columbia Records so I knew that he was in town working on a secret project that would become “Blood on the Tracks.” I asked him if I could preview the album for Rolling Stone. “How do you know about the album?” he said accusingly. His distaste for the press was well known. I immediately switched the subject and told him that Phil Ochs was crashing on my couch. He warmed up and authorized the article.

Nine months later, there were Dylan sightings in Manhattan. He was recording a new album and was spearheading impromptu jams at the Other End cafe in the Village. One night after a meal in Chinatown, I convinced Roger McGuinn, one of the founders of the Byrds and a friend of Bob’s, to look into the rumor with me. When we reached the back of the bar, there in a corner, Dylan was surrounded by friends like the folk singer David Blue, theater director Jacques Levy and assorted others. Dylan jumped up and lunged to hug McGuinn, spilling most of the drinks on the table. “Hey Roger, we’re gonna go out on tour. Wanna come with us?” When I reintroduced myself to Bob, he said, “I heard you’re doing an article on Hurricane Carter,” the boxer who had been convicted of murder in New Jersey by an all-white jury. We talked a bit, then he leaned in. “You wanna go on the road with us and cover the tour?” Uh, yeah.

That was the impromptu way the Rolling Thunder tour coalesced. Dylan assembled the musicians from the band that played on the “Desire” sessions, but then Bob’s old running mate Bob Neuwirth added some wild cards to the mix, like guitarist Mick Ronson. Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Woody Guthrie’s pal and a mentor of sorts to Bob, came along. Ronee Blakley, who would soon earn an Oscar nomination for her work in Robert Altman’s “Nashville,” signed on. And co-headlining the tour was Dylan’s old flame Joan Baez.

In some ways, the Revue was a reaction to Bob’s 1974 tour with The Band, when he had toured for the first time since 1966, playing hockey arenas across the country. “I got kind of held up on that tour,” Dylan told me. “I wasn’t really in control of the situation. We were just shuffled around from airport to limo to hotel lobby to hockey rinks.” Now, with his old summer camp pal Louie Kemp managing the tour, Bob could enjoy himself on the road again. And he didn’t have to worry about airports and limos. We'd be traveling by bus with Dylan, driving a small camper, in the lead.

Early on, the tour was playing intimate venues, giving it an old-timey feel. A show would open with songs by Neuwirth, Ramblin’ Jack, Ronee, McGuinn and Ronson. Then Dylan closed the first set. After an intermission, two voices could be heard from behind a curtain. That curtain slowly lifted, revealing the spectacle of Baez and Dylan reunited, a scene that elicited actual gasps from the audience.

But this was not your typical gypsy musical caravan. For one, foremost in Dylan’s mind was the plight of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the boxer imprisoned in New Jersey. Dylan and Jacques Levy had written a powerful song about this injustice called “Hurricane” that Bob played every night. And thanks to the fabled ad man George Lois, who spearheaded a celebrity campaign to free Rubin, the boxer had been moved to a minimum-security prison, where Lois procured him not one but two telephone lines. We called Rubin almost nightly before the show would start; half the time he’d put us on hold while he finished up another call.

Adding to the import of the tour was the presence of Allen Ginsberg, the counterculture’s poet laureate. Allen wrote a daily poem for the tour newsletter, bounded up onstage to play finger cymbals during the finale and provided running commentary for anyone in earshot. I spent many a night with Allen in the stands, listening to the music and hearing sage comments like, “Dylan has the authority of an emperor of sound!” Or, after one particularly blistering set, “It’s the vision of the ’60s becoming real. I’ve been crying.”

As if there wasn’t already enough variety, there was an open spot left in every city so that any musical colleague who came to that show could perform. Joni Mitchell showed up in New Haven, Conn., and stayed for the rest of the tour. “I stayed up three days in a row at one point, wandering around the room, and there was music going and I’d still be dancing,” Joni told me. “I didn’t want to miss anything!”

Rick Danko and Robbie Robertson joined a show, along with Gordon Lightfoot, who performed in his native Toronto. Then there was Leonard Cohen. Bob was anxious to have Leonard come to the Montreal show, so he had me call him from the hotel pay phone while he tugged on my arm. When I picked up Leonard the night of the show and we entered the backstage area, he was immediately greeted by Joni, Neuwirth, Ronee and then Dylan. “Hey Leonard, you gonna sing?” I pleaded. “Let it be known that I alone disdained the obvious support,” Leonard declared. “I’m going to sit out there and watch.”

One visitor who didn’t just sit and watch was Bob’s mom, Beatty Zimmerman. Energetic, brash, silver-haired and outgoing, she joined the tour in Maine and made an impact from hour one. She dispensed Jewish-mother wisdom and chicken soup, as well as song reviews (after hearing “Hurricane” she put her fist to her heart and said, “It leaves you weak”). A few nights later, Beatty joined her son onstage and danced during the finale.

Meanwhile, I was having troubles on the road. Louie Kemp had imposed some harsh rules on me. I was now “press” so I couldn’t stay at the same hotel as the group, half of whom I was friends with. I had to make appointments to talk to the performers.

If that wasn’t enough, I was getting heat from my editors at Rolling Stone. A few weeks into the tour, the Revue started playing larger venues and the ticket price increased by a dollar. My editor wanted to know where all the money was going. “But that’s not what the kids want to read,” I pleaded. “How do you know?” he countered. “I know kids,” I exploded over the phone.

Nevertheless, I woke Dylan up in his hotel room. “They want you to respond to the fact that the first 11 shows grossed $600,000,” I said.

“So what does Elton John charge?” Dylan shot back. “It don’t concern me what those people say. They are the establishment.”

Baez echoed the same sentiment. “Tell them to shove it up their asses,” she fumed. “It makes no difference if we played to 15 people or 15,000.”

As if putting on some of the most incendiary performances of his life every night wasn’t enough, Dylan, along with cinematographer Howard Alk and three small film crews, was shooting footage in every town on the tour for a film that was to become “Renaldo and Clara.” Sam Shepard had been hired to write a script, but Dylan invariably tossed his prepared dialogue and went for improvised scenes. One day Ginsberg came up with the idea of Dylan as an alchemist rediscovering America, so they shot a scene with Dylan in a diner trying to transmute crackers, ketchup, pie, coffee and milk into gold.

When Bob’s wife Sara joined the tour in Niagara, and later when actors Harry Dean Stanton and Helena Kallianiotes came aboard, the emphasis of the film shifted from a documentary format to a more mythic presentation. Dylan relied on intuition to map out the scenes of the film, much to the chagrin of Shepard. Everyone else happily went with the flow. But Dylan didn’t take every idea to heart. Mel Howard, the film’s producer, conveyed an idea from Ginsberg.

“Ginsberg wants to do a scene with you, Bob, acting out one of his fantasies,” Mel said. “He wants to shoot this scene where you and he are waking up together in the morning, this real tender aftermath scene.”

Dylan just rolled his eyes.

That footage was never shot, but hundreds of hours were. We finished the concerts in Montreal and then drove back to New York, stopping on the way to play for Rubin and his jail mates and then finishing up with a sold-out benefit for him at Madison Square Garden. For most of the musicians, it was the highlight of their careers.

In fact, no one wanted to leave New York after the tour ended. So we went to a succession of parties, including a boring affair at Norman Mailer’s apartment in Brooklyn Heights. But mostly, we hung around the Other End, where it all began. Bob, McGuinn and I were sitting at a table in the back, the same one where Bob had invited us on the tour a few months earlier. Everyone was pretty blitzed, so we were content to listen to the jukebox. Until three Byrds songs came on in succession.

“Hey McGuinn, you didn’t do your best songs on this tour, man,” Dylan snarled.

But then, as if by magic, Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” came on the jukebox. I looked over at Dylan, and he had pulled his hat over his face and downed another shot.

“Hey, schmuck,” I said. “Listen to this. You didn’t do your best songs on this tour either.”

Dylan wound up releasing “Renaldo and Clara” to very mixed reviews in January 1978. Clocking in at almost four hours long, it was savaged by the critics; one Village Voice reviewer started his review with “I wish Bob Dylan died…” It lasted for a few weeks in the theaters and has rarely been screened since then.

But now we have “Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese.” Using footage from “Renaldo and Clara,” plus tour outtakes and contemporary interviews, Scorsese has hit on the major themes of the tour: the spirit of America just before the bicentennial; the attempt to redress injustice toward Rubin Carter; the conflict between the musical and the mercantile; and the ability of artists to subsume their egos for a greater collective good. For fans of tour documentaries, this is the genre’s apotheosis. It’s Renaldo and Clara without Renaldo and Clara.

The Rolling Thunder Revue did one more leg, but Dylan has never stopped touring. He hinted at that to me after the Madison Square Garden show. “Why tour? I think that’s what I have to do. It’s in my blood. I’ll be available. People can see me in person all over the world. This tour ain’t gonna stop.”

There’s a scroll at the end of the Scorsese film that documents every date that Dylan has played on his Never Ending tour since Rolling Thunder. Suffice it to say, it’s a very, very long scroll.
The face in the misty light...


Robyn

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Reply #10 on: June 12, 2019, 12:40:36 AM
It's 7 in the morning and it's still not here! Where is it??

edit: midnight pacific time apparently


eward

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Reply #11 on: June 12, 2019, 08:26:30 AM
I'm seeing it tonight at 9:15. I already know too much.
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Drenk

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Reply #12 on: June 12, 2019, 05:20:25 PM
SPOILERS



I haven't watched the movie yet, but I've seen the world "prank" used twice to describe one of the narrative devices of the documentary. I'll see if it's a prank, but mixing "lies" (or what I'd call fiction) with "true" (what's real, man, and can you film and edit it?) footage seems to me like a fantastic way to understand the medium and Dylan's career. The past is a reconstruction...

Let's see.

EDIT: It begins with a french pun. Re-Vue for Revue. Re Vue in French means Seen Again, it's also used for something that has been edited or reinterpreted.
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eward

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Reply #13 on: June 12, 2019, 11:13:11 PM
Jesus this was incredible. My heart is pounding. Not what I expected yet everything I wanted it to be, and more. Very different in a lot of ways than No Direction Home. Dylan is so funny here, especially old man Dylan. The performances will comb your hair and give you a sunburn.

Best movie of the year.

Spoiler: ShowHide
When Michael Murphy showed up as his character from Altman’s Tanner ‘88, I about lost it. Brilliant move. The other fabricated elements are also ingenious in their own slippery little ways. Such moves might seem baffling to non-hardcores, but to me it felt like the ONLY way to go. It reframes the making of Renaldo & Clara in a very moving way, too, all the while never even directly acknowledging that aspect of the tour!!
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wilberfan

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Reply #14 on: June 13, 2019, 12:36:49 AM
I'm watching the film now, but don't really know what to do with the following information.

"Trying to fit in since 2017."