Laura CliffordIn 2006, the Rolling Stones landed in North America for the “A Bigger Bang” tour, dispensing their decades long tunes to adoring fans across the land. Director Martin Scorsese takes on the task of bringing the Stones’ music to the big screen as he uses his many cameras to capture a pair of benefit concerts at New York’s Beacon Theater. Hosted by none other than former President Bill Clinton, the concert docu shows the band getting its deserved acclaim as one of the world’s great musical icons in “Shine a Light.”
Do not expect (thankfully) an MTV-style concert film with three-second edits and extreme close-ups. Scorsese shows his chops in garnering a smart, classy concert film (see his “The Last Waltz”) that mixes the music with lots of entertaining archive footage of interviews with the Stones, old concerts and some very pithy past moments.
There are a couple of very amusing interludes in the historical interviews. One has Mick Jagger, after the band had been together for just two years, telling his interviewer, when asked if the band would continue playing, “I think we’re set up for at least another year.” Another, during the 1972 interview on ”The Dick Cavett Show,” has the host ask Mick, “Can you picture yourself doing this at age 60?” Jagger’s response is an assured, “Oh, yeah.”
As amusing as the archive stuff is – it is fun to see Keith Richards when he did not look like five miles of bad road – we are here to see the Rolling Stones in concert. After nearly 50 years in the music limelight, the band – Mick, Keith, Ron Wood and Charlie Watts – still show amazing energy on stage, especially Jagger who can still strut his stuff.
Smartly, for these two concerts the Stones stick with a tried and true play list that is chock full of classic Rolling Stones music. The band leads off with Jumping Jack Flash” and continues with such favorites as “Shattered,” “She Was Hot,” “Just My Imagination, Tumblin’ Down,” “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Brown Sugar” and wrapping up, of course, with Satisfaction.” Joining in on several of these tunes are guests Jack White III (of White Stripes), blues guitarist Buddy Guy and pop singer Christine Aguilera. A talented array of singers and musicians provides rich backup for the band.
Shine a Light” represents the very best in behind-the-camera artistry. Marty Scorsese knows his business but it helps that his huge camera crew – I counted eight cameras, at least – includes such veteran cinematographers as Stuart Dryburgh, Robert Elswit, Emmanuel Lubezki, Declan Quinn and Robert Richardson. The result is an expertly crafted concert movie that pleases the eye as well as the ear. The film is getting release in regular theatrical format but you will also be able to catch it at selected Imax theaters, too. The latter would be my choice. I give it an A-.
Laura did not see this film.
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