Now that my wishy-washy opinion of the Stones is out of the way, let’s get to the film. I unfortunately haven’t seen Scorsese’s prior music documentaries (I was busy returning video tapes), but I can only imagine that this will top them all. The film starts off with Scorsese in New York setting up for the big show and the Stones on their tour and eventually en route to New York. This, and most of the behind the scenes stuff, is filmed in black and white. What really comes across in the opening is chaos. Not in a physical or violent way, but in a “let’s make sure all our ducks are lined up in a row” kind of way. The planning for this thing had to be a friggin’ a nightmare and we get a small taste of it in the first 10 minutes or so of the film. We see Scorsese setting up shots on stage, Mick on a plane going over the set lists, breaking them down from “really well known” to “not known” and trying to mix it up. Marty’s biggest point of contention is not knowing what the first song is going to be. If he doesn’t know what the first song is going to be, he doesn’t how to line up his first shot. In one of my favorite lines, someone tells Marty that if Mick stands in front of some really bright lights for more than fifteen minutes he’ll burn up (as in flames) to which Marty replies, “We cannot burn Mick Jagger. Very simple. We want the effect but we can’t burn him.”
Once the whole preparation segment is out of the way (where we see Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton meet the band), we are propelled into full color mode which looks glorious even on an old school tube TV. As far as the performances go, they are what they are. They’re the f*cking Rolling Stones and you’ve heard these songs a million times over. I’m not a big fan of these old classic rockers still trying to belt out songs and not hitting notes, but Mick makes up for it in stage presence and performance. But what really sets it apart is how Scorsese frames each musician, how he slows pushes in on the band and then slowly pans across. I’ve seen quite a few concert videos in my day but this one is now an instant classic because of Scorsese’s technique. In between songs, vintage interviews are inserted, mostly pertaining to “do you think you’ll be doing this when you’re 60”. A lot of the interviews all pertain to the Stones longevity and whether or not they’ll be around for a long time. It starts off with them saying, “we don’t know” to “oh yeah, we will.” Also along for a couple of songs are Jack White from The White Stripes, the legendary Buddy Guy and the lovely Christina Aguilera where at one point, Mick Jagger can’t help but do a little grinding action on her. Can’t blame ya, Mick!
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
She Was Hot
All Down the Line
Lovin’ Cup (with Jack White)
As Tears Go By
Just My Imagination
Far Away Eyes
Champagne and Reefer (with Buddy Guy)
You Got the Silver (sung by Keith)
Connection (sung by Keith)
Sympathy for the Devil
Live With Me (with Christina Aguilera)
Start Me Up
Bonus Performances: Additional performances for songs: Undercover of the Night, Paint it Black, Little T&A and I’m Free.