Rock Doc Roundup – Films Featuring Bob Dylan, David Crosby and Bill Wyman

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Staci Layne Wilson provides a rock doc rundown of great movies to watch now, and others that are up and coming.

Rock docThe past year has been something of a golden age for music movies, with the Oscar-winning success of Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star is Born. At the moment, The Dirt and Rocketman reign supreme as Motley Crue and Elton John fans flock to see scripted shenanigans of bygone eras depicted by actors.

But when it comes to capturing the memories and reflections of revered rock stars who are entering the twilight of their lives, the rock doc medium is proving most effective. Right now, there are three full-fledged features in the roc doc category worth checking out.

ROLLING THUNDER REVUE

Subtitled A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese, this Netflix Original chronicles a game-changing 1976 U.S. tour which featured violinist Scarlet Rivera, guitarist Mick Ronson, and friends like Rambling Jack Elliott, Joan Baez, Allen Ginsberg, and Patti Smith.

It’s a fanciful, grainy swirl of rock doc / mockumentary featuring never-before-seen performances, a brand-new interview with Dylan himself, Roger McGuinn, Joni Mitchell, actors portraying made-up characters (plus Sharon Stone as herself but not telling the truth), and a few other surprises.

DAVID CROSBY: REMEMBER MY NAME

 “All the guys that I made music with won’t even talk to me. All of ’em,” the legendary singer-songwriter admits in this Cameron Crowe produced unvarnished look back at the years of first The Byrds, then Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Clearly made with the cooperation of Crosby, the ailing musician, who been plagued with serious health problems, waxes melancholy on drug addiction, personal tragedy, and clashes with former bandmates.

But it’s not all doom and gloom and regrets; when asked if he would trade his storied music career for a personal life filled with extreme joy, he responds, “No music? No, not interested. It’s the only thing I’ve got to offer, really.”

It’s interesting to watch present-day Crosby go back over his old stomping grounds in Laurel Canyon, which is juxtaposed with home videos and footage from the 60s, plus we get a glimpse into his everyday life on his ranch where he lives happily with his wife of 32 years, Jan Dance.

THE QUIET ONE

rock docIn this story of the least-showy member of The Rolling Stones, we watch as bassist Bill Wyman goes through his extensive archive of home videos, photography, artwork and music.

Director Oliver Murray goes in chronological order from childhood to the present, making for somewhat exhaustive viewing—but, the lengthy tale is punctuated by animation and lively visuals, not to mention fascinating narration by Wyman. He’s not someone we usually hear from, so his take on the whole “rock n roll circus” that began in the swinging sixties feels fresh.

When it comes to exploring his musicianship, there’s a brief allusion as to how Wyman created the world’s first fretless bass— an important enough innovation to have merited deeper discussion—and a bit about how his style meshed with that of his bandmates. “Leave space, don’t fill it up,” Wyman sums up. “You’re not a fucking lead guitarist. Focus on the drums, so you’ve got a solid foundation that everyone can draw upon.”

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If that’s not enough for you, there’s more! Here’s a rock-doc roundup of movies that are on the brink of release and that you’ll want to put on your radar:

The Ventures: Stars on Guitars – A rock doc directed by Staci Layne Wilson

Hey, that name looks familiar! Yes, it’s me and this is my upcoming film on the guitar-driven rock band that my dad Don Wilson started way back in 1959: The Ventures. I’m tracing his trajectory from working in a used car lot in Tacoma, WA., to worldwide acclaim as a bestselling artist and an inductee into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Interviewees include Billy Bob Thornton, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, The Neptunas, and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin.

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool – Directed by Stanley Nelson Jr.

Davis was a singular force of nature, the very embodiment of cool. The central theme of the jazz man’s life, and of this film, is his restless determination to break boundaries and live life on his own terms. Here we get to see archival photos and home movies shot by Miles and his colleagues, his manuscripts and original paintings, as we explore the man behind the music. Interviewees include Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana, The Roots, and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love – Directed by Nick Broomfield

Broomfield has made a few music docs over the years, including his breakout feature Kurt & Courtney which was followed by Biggie & Tupac. Now he explores the relationship between singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen and his muse, Marianne Ihlen, the namesake for the classic song “So Long, Marianne.”

Staci Layne Wilson provides a rock doc rundown of great movies to watch now, and others that are up and coming.

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Staci Layne Wilson

Staci Layne Wilson

Staci Layne Wilson is an accomplished writer / director / producer / film critic and the author the bestseller So L.A. - A Hollywood Memoir. Find her on StaciLayneWilson.com

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