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Life isn’t about finding yourself or finding anything,” says Bob Dylan. “It’s about creating yourself.” At 78, the musician moves into a new phase of self-creation with this intriguing, fascinating, perplexing, sometimes exasperating film directed by Martin Scorsese – which is to say Scorsese has supervised a witty curatorial edit of archive film material, and in effect collaborated with Dylan in another artistic act of self-reshaping.
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The film is about Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue show of US and Canada in 1975 – a 57-date tour in which the troubadour appeared in whiteface makeup, with an extraordinary changing list of support acts that included Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Roger McQuinn, Ronee Blakley, “Ramblin’” Jack Elliott, Bob Neuwirth and the violinist Scarlet Rivera. And these weren’t massive arenas he was playing, they were little halls and venues, with publicity sometimes limited to flyers handed out on the day to astonished denizens of the little towns in which the Ken Kesey-style tour bus would cheerfully roll up with the grinning Dylan at the wheel. Try to imagine it happening now.