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Total Crap: 3.57%

4 reviews, 4 user ratings

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Shine a Light
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by Lybarger

"Stones + Scorsese + IMAX = Satisfaction."
4 stars

The title of ‘World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band’ seems to have arbitrarily awarded to the Rolling Stones. The same label could on any evening be applied to such defunct acts as the Beatles or Led Zeppelin or active groups like U2 or Radiohead. Fortunately, Oscar-winner Martin Scorsese and an ace crew of cinematographers have managed to catch the Stones on two nights in 2006 when the title was rightfully theirs.

The Stones have appeared in at least half a dozen theatrical concert documentaries already, including the disturbing classic “Gimme Shelter.”

In fact, “Shine a Light” is actually the second film the band has made in the IMAX format. Fortunately, singer Mick Jagger and company played the two shows documented in the film with a vigor and enthusiasm that belies their 46 years together.

They’ve played most of these songs since before most of their fans were born, but the Stones can still find ways to make chestnuts like “As Tears Go By” and “Tumbling Dice” sound new and exciting.

The IMAX sound system also allows viewers to hear the songs in a rich detail that a lot of iPods or even home theater systems can’t. Much of the appeal of their "Exile on Main Street" album is its grungy sound, but they’re a good enough band to stand up to true high fidelity.

Even minor Stones tunes like the forgotten 80s number “She Was Hot” are performed with a vitality that was missing in the original studio versions. Perhaps the tune might have been a hit if the Mick and the boys had waited till 2008 to release it.

When Jagger struts on stage to belt out “Jumping Jack Flash,” he’s got an energy that would put members of Cirque de Soleil to shame. The huge IMAX screen shows every wrinkle on his face.

He’s clearly in his 60s, but his stage presence and sense of authority eliminate the ravages of age and hard living. After a few seconds, he, drummer Charlie Watts and guitarist Keith Richards use their music to give Father Time a defiant middle finger.

“New” guitarist Ronnie Wood (who’s only been with the band since 1975) is in rare form, effortlessly slipping from six-string to slide guitars and augmenting Richards’ licks. Virtuoso bass player Daryl Jones (a 16-year veteran) is rarely seen but holds his own with the original crew.

The Stones include guest duets with Christina Aguilera and Jack White. Both manage to keep up with the band admirably. Aguilera, in particular, tears through “Live with Me” with Jagger, and the nearly four-decade gap in their ages does nothing to diminish the tune’s raunchy appeal.

If the Stones have anything to fear, it’s from veteran Chicago bluesman Buddy Guy, who steals the show during a Muddy Waters tune he belts out with Jagger. Guy is now past 70, and he ends up briefly giving the band something to emulate when they grow up.

In his previous music documentary "Bob Dylan: No Direction Home," Scorsese managed to find new and intriguing information about Dylan as well as some rarely seen performances.

This time around Scorsese digs up some amusing archival interviews with the band. Generally, Scorsese and the group seem to have concluded that the Stones’ longevity is surprising.

Scorsese doesn’t really probe the group about their past the way he did with Robbie Robertson and the Band in "The Last Waltz." It might have been nice to examine the Stones and their legacy in greater detail. Because they’ve been interviewed to death over the years, maybe Scorsese simply wanted to hear them play.

Who can blame him?

The movie begins with a funny segment where the filmmaker chronicles his own efforts to organize the filming despite the fact that the Stones have not sent him a set list for the tunes they'd eventually perform.

He builds the anticipation by filming the segments in black-and-white and leaving the IMAX screen only partially filmed until the band finally starts playing. It’s the director’s way of sharing the rush of hearing their music with the viewers.

As shot by Robert Richardson, who won an Oscar for his work on Scorsese’s "The Aviator," "Shine a Light" has an intimacy that few concert films provide. It’s almost as if the viewer is on stage with the group kicking out the jams. Every now and then I expected burly security guards to force me back into my seat.

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originally posted: 04/11/08 14:04:42
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2008 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2008 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/05/15 thomas hate this movie 1 stars
4/13/08 Stephen Simmons Outstanding, I was there! onstage, backstage, up close, VERY CLOSE, what a blast! 5 stars
4/09/08 dien2meetu WE LOVE THE ROLLING STONEs !!! 5 stars
4/08/08 shaw my dad loves it! 4 stars
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  04-Apr-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 29-Jul-2008



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