The 6 Best Movies to Buy or Stream This Week: ‘Rolling Thunder Revue,’ ‘Captain Marvel’


Folkies will find much to love this week, as a new Bob Dylan documentary (in the loosest sense of the word) hits Netflix and a long-lost all-star concert lands on disc. Elsewhere, we’ve got a giant superhero movie and an Astaire and Rogers musical, plus a pair of unsung ‘70s movies getting a second life on disc. Check ‘em out:


Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese: “I don’t remember a thing about Rolling Thunder!” Bob Dylan insists, early in this gleefully subversive documentary account of the 1975-1976 tour he mounted with friends and collaborators, before and after the release of Desire – “a con man, carny medicine show of old,” according to Allen Ginsberg, one of the participants. And it’s perhaps in that spirit of snake oil and flim-flammery (and of Dylan’s own lifelong station as an unreliable narrator) that Scorsese cheerfully intertwines fact and fiction, so that even true events are steeped in the fiction of recollection and preparation. On that tour, Dylan and company set out to make their own folk myths and tall tales – and the film gets into the same spirit. Dazzlingly entertaining, wryly funny, and filled with spirited, energetic, and LOUD performance footage that’s among the best of Dylan’s career. (Streaming tomorrow, June 12.)


Captain Marvel: The strengths and weaknesses of the Marvel house style have been firmly established by now, and this spring’s monster hit succumbs to many of them: the action sequences are aggressively bland, the structure is frustratingly restrictive, and the sense of service to the franchise can be suffocating. But directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson) manage to insert some personality into it nonetheless, in the refreshing and genuine camaraderie shared by Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson, in the dimension and humor provided by villain Ben Mendelsohn, and (most of all) in the overwhelming emotional power of the last beat before the last big fight. The performative, fraudulent “look at us, feminism” of too many recent blockbusters can be exhausting, but here, the emotional currency of those moments is not only earned, but enormously satisfying. (Includes audio commentary, deleted scenes, gag reel, and featurettes.)


Swing Time: Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers teamed up for the sixth time for this 1936 musical dazzler, and by that point, everyone knew exactly what they were there to do: create the requisite love/hate chemistry, craft a handful of stunning dance numbers, and plug them into a plot that mostly gets out of the way. It’s full of joyful sequences – their first duet, “Pick Yourself Up,” is one of the all-time great on-screen dance sense – and one absolute room-emptier, the blackface “Bojangles of Harlem” number. But to disregard the rest is to throw out the baby with the bathwater, and to Criterion’s credit, they tackle it head-on by including an interview with African-American film scholar Mia Mask in the bonus features. It’s a model of how to deal with #problematic classics — celebrate the craftsmanship, acknowledge and wrestle with the shortcomings. (Also includes audio commentary, new and archival interviews, and featurette.)

The Girl Most Likely To…: KL Studio Classics give the Blu-ray bump to this 1973 ABC TV movie, a fact betrayed by the 74-minute running time and the “special guest stars” (including Ed Asner and Jim Backus). But it’s one with a following, thanks in no small part to the contributions of co-writer Joan Rivers and star Stockard Channing, who crafts a delicious, two-part performance as an awkward, ugly virgin who undergoes reconstructive surgery after a car wreck, comes out a total babe, and determines to “pay back” those who humiliated her — “with interest!” It’s an ugly-duckling-turns-femme-fatale story, a pro-Kill Bill tale of a newly powerful woman who finds those who wronged her and crosses them off her list (and the body count in this one is pretty high as well). Some of it is broad and obvious, but again, it’s a ‘70s TV movie; there are laughs and cringes a-plenty, and it’s frankly refreshing to know that once upon a time, a comedy this dark could sneak onto network air. (Includes audio commentary.)

They Might Be Giants: This unsung 1971 gem from director Anthony Harvey (also new on Blu from KL) has an ingenious central concept: George C. Scott stars as a (then) contemporary man who believes he’s Sherlock Holmes, gets committed, and enlists his conveniently-named doctor, Watson (Joanne Woodward) to help him solve his latest cast. James Goldman’s screenplay (based on his stage play) gets its deserved laughs from the notion of a deerstalker-clad Holmes skulking through ‘70s Manhattan; they visit the New York Public Library and a Times Square grindhouse, and find arch-nemesis Moriarity awaiting them in Central Park at night. It gets a little goofy by the end, but Scott and Woodward carry it through — they’re a good, even match, exchanging witty repartee at the beginning and longing glances by the end. (Includes audio commentary, featurette, and trailer.)


Woody Guthrie: All-Star Tribute Concert 1970: An ideal companion piece to Rolling Thunder– there’s no Dylan, but dedicated to his single biggest influence, and filled with collaborators and Rolling Thunder participants. This previously unreleased concert film captures a 1970 Los Angeles benefit for the memory of Mr. Guthrie, which alternates performances of his songs (by such successors as Joan Baez, Richie Havens, and Pete Seeger) with biographical interludes and Guthrie’s own words (read by Peter Fonda and Will Geer), accompanied by archival documentary footage. It’s far too brief at 50 minutes, but worth a look anyway; the performances are inspired and often impassioned, and the group numbers are especially imbued with the spirit of their composer. (Includes deleted songs and featurette.)