Archive for the ‘Concert Films’ Category

Shine a Light

Monday, April 14th, 2008


The biggest surprise regarding the Rolling Stones is not that they’re still playing, but rather that they’re still as raw, vital, intense and, well, kick ass as they were 30 or 40 years ago. In the new Martin Scorsese film Shine a Light, we see the legendary band with a combined age of about 567 years ripping the stage to shreds. Of course, you know the music’s good. But, that kind of goes without saying.

What this film shows, more than anything else, is the sheer joy of performance that Mick, Keith, Rockin’ Ronny and Charlie still have, after all these years. Scorsese, with his legion of cameramen led by Oscar winning cinematographer Robert Richardson, captures the excitement and power of the Stones in an intimate and astounding way; at times it feels like we’re right there on the stage with them.There’s a moment, for example, after a particular exhausting number when Charlie Watts glances at the camera and makes a face. It’s a small moment that probably would’ve been missed if the camera work hadn’t been so obsessively detailed, so thank God Martin Scorsese is known for being a bit of an obsessive.

It was hard for me to be too critical watching this film. One of my favorite bands of all time in a documentary by one of my favorite directors of all time, perhaps I have a bit of a bias. If you want to see a Stones documentary that is digs deep into their history, probes their darkest hour and asks the hard hitting questions, then you should probably see Gimme Shelter or something. This film is pretty much just the concert, but what a concert.The first fifteen minutes or so features Scorsese, Jagger and the gang getting ready for the concert, and Scorsese almost steals the film in these scenes; Scorsese, the easily excitable, visibly agitated director playing a slight caricature of himself (or is he). Take for instance the scene where Scorsese and an assistant weigh the pros and cons of lighting Mick Jagger on fire.

There are a few news clips and bits of interviews pulled over the years interspersed between the clips, but they’re mostly there to show that the Stones once were young like you. To say again, this film is important because of the music, not because of any higher or deeper meaning, but then again, isn’t the music of The Rolling Stones important anyway? We saw the film on IMAX, and this is the way to see the film: the picture is so crisp and clear, and the sound was incredible. This is definitely the way to hear “Sympathy for The Devil.”