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Review: Shine a Light

Shine a Light
7 10

Plot: An IMAX concert film featuring The Rolling Stones- directed by Martin Scorsese.

Review: All hail The Rolling Stones!!! That seems to be the message of Martin Scorsese's ode to the band- SHINE A LIGHT. As a more than casual fan of the Stones myself, I find it hard to argue with that message- although I have to admit that I was a little disappointed by SHINE A LIGHT. While I love the Stones, I love Scorsese even more, and I walked into this film with extremely high hopes.

Unlike NO DIRECTION HOME, the Bob Dylan documentary he made a couple of years ago- SHINE A LIGHT is a totally straightforward concert film. It actually has quite a lot in common with Scorsese's landmark 1976 film THE LAST WALTZ. That film chronicled The Band, which was headlined by Robbie Robertson-who went on to become a frequent Scorsese collaborator, on their farewell tour. While that film was a fairly bittersweet look at the end of an era- SHINE A LIGHT is an extremely upbeat look at a band that just won't stop rocking- no matter how old they get.

While I definitely enjoyed SHINE A LIGHT, I wish that Scorsese had made more of a documentary then a straightforward concert film. The Rolling Stones have already had several concert films made about them- including 1970's GIMME SHELTER, by Albert & David Mayles, which chronicled their disastrous Altamount concert which claimed the life of one fan, who was beaten to death by members of the Hell's Angels biker gang- who were on hand to provide security.

Naturally, the concert documented in SHINE A LIGHT is a much happier occasion- and the Stones are definitely in top form. It was shot during the 2006 tour over a two night engagement at the Beacon Theater in New York City- where they played to a star studded crowd. Bill & Hilary Clinton put in an appearance towards the beginning, and at one point Bruce Willis can be seen standing in the wings.

While the large IMAX screen is unforgiving, and it's obvious that the Stones are getting up there age-wise, they definitely prove that they can still put on a kick ass concert. Jagger's voice is as powerful as ever, and he can still hit the same high notes that he did thirty years ago. Guitarist Keith Richards has aged a lot less gracefully than Jagger, but he still manages to warble out a couple of songs, and he really seems to come alive during his performance of "You Got The Silver".

It's obvious throughout that all the remaining members of the band still love performing, and they seems to be having a grand old time working their way through a great set list. While they perform a lot of the classics (Start Me Up, Satisfaction, Brown Sugar, Jumpin' Jack Flash), they also devote a lot of time to some lesser known numbers. Jack White pops up near the beginning to duet with Jagger on "Loving Cup"- off the great Exile on Main St. Album, while blues great Buddy Guy joins Jagger for a scorching version of Muddy Waters' "Champagne & Reefer". Towards the end, a smoking hot Christina Aguilera pops up for the live staple "Live With Me", and she holds her own opposite Jagger.

The problem with SHINE A LIGHT is that, when all is said and done, you're really just watching a concert film blown up for IMAX. For me- the best part of SHINE A LIGHT was the first 10 minutes, which is a little mini backstage documentary showing Scorsese struggling to plan out the shoot. He has to contend with a whole bunch of technical problems, and also has to contend with the Stones themselves, who are so busy planning out the show that they have little time to devote to Scorsese, who only gets a set list moments before the show starts. Once we get into the concert itself, the whole experience starts to get a little old. While SHINE A LIGHT is definitely a whole lot cheaper than buying a ticket to one of their shows, it does not compare to the thrill of seeing them live.

Still- if you're even a casual Stones fan you got to see this film, as the Stones on IMAX are pretty bad ass (they've actually gone the IMAX route before- a film of their Steel Wheels tour was one of the first IMAX films). I hope The Rolling Stones never retire- and I fully expect to see them back on tour before long.

Grade: 7.5/10




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