Director Martin Scorsese's nearly four-hour documentary on Bob Dylan starts with what most today would consider a classic concert performance in England. Dylan, wild-eyed and wild-haired, screams to the skies for "Like a Rolling Stone" with The Band (featuring Robbie Robertson) turning out a memorable jam behind him.
Strange thing is, he's almost getting overwhelmed by boos. You see, a large part of the music-listening public loved their folk music, and while the press and his fans tried to label Dylan as the king of folk music, he refused the honor--not because of hatred for the musical form, but for fear of being trapped in one musical room. His decision to "go electric" revealed the ugly side of a supposed peace-loving movement, and people spat venom at him as he tried to play some new tunes. Cries of "Judas!" and "traitor!" can be heard, despite the fact that the London, England, concert's whole first half was solo Dylan and his guitar, an effort to placate the folk-acoustic-loving crowd.
This film covers Dylan's career from 1961-66, and what seemed like a radical transformation in the mid-'60s seems like logical musical growth today. The movie is yet another triumph for Scorsese, who, along with his legendary studio films, was an assistant director on Woodstock, and chronicled the then-swan song of the original The Band lineup with The Last Waltz (which also featured Dylan).
The story starts in Minnesota, Dylan's birthplace, where he found himself a guitar and a record player and started playing songs. Dylan, who sits down for his first interview in 20 years, discusses many of his musical influences and idols, biggest among them being Woody Guthrie. Scorsese uses a historical backdrop (JFK's assassination, MLK's historic speech) to remind the audience of the turmoil surrounding Dylan's musical emergence.
Dylan's shyness in the limelight (he's embarrassed when TV host Steve Allen showers him with compliments) begins turning to disillusionment when the press starts demanding more answers and explanations from the soft-spoken poet. The singer's burning wit is often evident during news conferences, especially during one when a journalist has the gall to suggest Dylan suck on his sunglasses for a photo.
Interviewees include Joan Baez, who delivers a stunning current performance of the Dylan penned "Love Is Just a Four Letter Word," and folk singer Pete Seeger, who, rumor has it, threatened to cut the cables during Dylan's electrified performance at the Newport Festival, a performance that also featured rampant booing.
While No Direction Home works as a loving tribute to a great artist, it also examines a close minded faction of the '60s, the ugly side of flower power. After his tumultuous European tour, Dylan went into performance seclusion after a 1966 motorcycle crash. No doubt, some of the folks who were booing Dylan in 1966 probably brag about attending those concerts 40 years ago.
This movie stands right alongside The Beatles Anthology and The Who's The Kids Are Alright as rock films that do the legendary subjects much justice. It's a two-part film that ends with nearly 40 years of Dylan's musical career still available to be covered.
Special Features: A navigational feature allows you to jump to the music performances. There are also complete performance videos of seven songs, including "Like a Rolling Stone."
This is a gloriously dumb movie that will appeal to fans of The Evil Dead and Peter Jackson's Dead Alive. Some folks on their way to a wedding stop off in the hick town of Lovelock, where David Carradine has some sort of goofy spirit box that will unleash evil (albeit evil with a weird sense of humor) if opened. A honky-tonk party goes bad when everybody turns into zombies and starts killing the untainted.
There's some good, bloody mayhem in this movie, including some realistic zombie decapitations and one instance where a severed head is used as a hand puppet. As gore-fests go, this one is pretty good. One particular zombie gets a chainsaw stuck in his neck, and his battle to free himself from the damned thing is epic by horror-film standards.
Best of all is Zach Selwyn as a band leader who performs the strangest hybrid of country rock and rap. (There's actually a zombie musical dance number that owes plenty to Michael Jackson's Thriller. )
Special Features: Two fun commentaries, bloopers and deleted scenes.
Springsteen grabs his acoustics and that harmonica thing and delivers stirring versions of such classics as "Thunder Road," "Nebraska," "Brilliant Disguise" and the new "Devils and Dust." The performances are great, and the explanations of his lyrics are even better. Best moment: Springsteen discusses how Manfred Mann changed "deuce" to "douche" in "Blinded by the Light," which he feels is the reason why their version went to No. 1.
Special Features: A question-and-answer session, where Bruce is very frank and funny, is the DVD's only special feature.