This Week's PCR|
"Shine A Light"
Movie review by: Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars
Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars
"Shine A Light" by Mike Smith
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Let me say right here at the beginning that I am a fan of the Rolling Stones. Of course I’ve always been familiar with their hits, but it wasn’t until my best friend, Matt, lent me his copy of “Goats Head Soup” that I really “heard” the Stones. Since that fateful day more then 30 years ago, I’ve immersed myself in the band. At last count, I own 43 Rolling Stones albums. Not CDs, ALBUMS. Or AL-BA-MUMS, as Christopher McDonald referred to them in “Grease 2.” “Her Satanic Majesty’s Request” with the 3-D cover? Got it. “Some Girls” with Lucille Ball on the cover (it had to be changed after Ball threatened to sue the band for using her likeness)? Right here on the shelf. “Sticky Fingers” with the working zipper on the cover….anyway, I’m sure you get the picture. I’ve seen every tour at least once since 1981. I’ve seen them in the states and I’ve seen them in Europe. Fave concert moment: Jagger on top of RFK Stadium in Washington D.C., bathed in red while performing “Sympathy for the Devil.” I wasn’t the first person to call them “the world’s greatest rock and roll band” but you’d have a hard time convincing me otherwise. That being said, I attended the recent film, “Shine A Light,” with some trepidation. Most concert films are boring. Long shots of the stage and terrible sound, which only make you wish you shelled out the money to see the band when you had the chance. “The Song Remains the Same,” “The Concert for Bangladesh,” even the 1982 Stones film “Let’s Spend the Night Together” left lots to be desired. But along with that trepidation came hope. The greatest (my opinion, of course) concert film ever made is “The Last Waltz,” a chronicle of the last concert of the Band, which was directed by Martin Scorsese. And guess who’s directing this one?
In a small way a documentary, “Shine A Light” catches the Stones on their most recent “A Bigger Bang” tour, performing two nights at the Beacon Theater in New York City. The second night is a benefit hosted by President Bill Clinton, who surprises the band when he brings 30-plus people for a “meet and greet” with them. The film begins with Jagger, Scorsese and the set/lighting director discussing the film. Unfortunately, they’re not in the same room. Most of the time, they’re not even in the same country. Scorsese keeps begging for a set list so he can set up his cameras. Jagger is worried that all of the cameras will distract the audience and the band. And the light guy keeps pointing out that it’s dangerous for Jagger to be in front of the stage lights for more then a few seconds. “He could get burned,” he points out. “Great,” Scorsese replies, “we’ll get to see Mick Jagger burst into flames.” As the band takes the stage, Scorsese is handed a set list and the show is on. And what a show it is! I learned before the show that the combined age of the four main Stones is 254 years, most of which are visible on Keith Richards face. But when the music begins, you’d swear you wear watching a group of teenagers. Jagger never stops moving, racing around the stage to greet the fans or doing his trademark strut. It’s said that he used to lose 10 pounds during each live show and you can see why by the energy he expends. That energy is captured by the audience, who loudly sing along without having to be coerced. Richards and Ronnie Wood drain themselves through their guitars, making each lead riff as powerful as the last. Drummer Charlie Watts provides an inside glimpse at the hard work of rock and roll when, after a furious performance of “All Down the Line,” he looks directly into the camera and mouths, “Phew!”
If there is one director who understands rock and roll, it’s Martin Scorsese. From such early films as “Mean Streets” through his Oscar-winning work on “The Departed,” he has always found a way to fuse the mediums of film and music. One great example is the use of the coda to “Layla” during the discovery of the mobster’s bodies in “Goodfellas.” A perfect meshing of sight and sound. “Shine A Light” is no different. Scorsese knows when and where it’s important for the music to become the focus of the film and when the sound should take a backseat to an image. His cameras cover every inch of the theatre. From the back row of the balcony to backstage, from Charlie Watts' drum riser, to the excited audience. Speaking of the audience, keep an eye out for Bruce Willis in the front row looking like he’s having the time of his life. Besides their fantastic backing band, including bassist Darryl Jones, who has played with the band since Bill Wyman retired in 1993, the Stones are joined on stage during the show by Jack White, Buddy Guy and Christina Aguilera, who all hold their own with the band. White, who duets with Jagger on “Loving Cup,” looks like he’s about to burst, obviously living a dream come true. Those on stage look so happy that I expected to see President Clinton blowing the sax solo during “Brown Sugar.” Which would have been as bizarre as the sight of Wood playing the steel guitar, which he does during “Far Away Eyes.” Much of the stage work was captured by Albert Maysles who, with his brother David, created the great documentary about the Rolling Stones 1969 concert at the Altamont Speedway, “Gimme Shelter.”
Currently showing in the IMAX format, “Shine A Light” is a film that rivals “The Last Waltz” as the greatest concert film ever. On a scale of zero to four stars, I give “Shine A Light”
This week's movie review of "Shine A Light" is ©2008 by Michael A. Smith. All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2008, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.