Shine A Light

2008, Movie, PG-13, 122 mins


Martin Scorsese's fluid account of the Rolling Stones' 2006 benefit concert for the Clinton Foundation at New York's Beacon Theater is no LAST WALTZ (1978) or GIMME SHELTER (1970). But it is a vivid record of the aging rockers' ability to put on a great show -- not a great show for a bunch of guys in their sixties, but a great show, period -- and Scorsese's canny use of archival footage makes it more than a mere concert film.

Shot with 18 cameras over the course of two nights, the film's core is a set that begins with "Jumping Jack Flash," ends with "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," and includes songs from virtually every phase of the band's five-decade career, from "Sympathy for the Devil" and "As Tears Go By" to "Shattered" and "Start Me Up." The focus is on the familiar, but less familiar numbers like "You Got the Silver" and the country-music pastiche "Far Away Eyes" are included as well. Jack White of the White Stripes and Christina Aguilera duet with Jagger on, respectively, "Loving Cup" and "Live with Me," and guitar legend Buddy Guy joins the band for blues classic "Champagne and Reefer." But Scorsese includes behind-the-scenes footage, much of it devoted to his futile efforts to get the set list early -- or at least not at the last possible minute -- so he can do some advance blocking. And he includes some choice vintage footage of the Stones, most of it devoted to their replies when interviewers throughout the years asked how long they thought they'd be able to keep performing; the earliest clip dates from 1964, when Jagger figures that the band has been together for two years, so they ought to be good for at least one more. Less than 10 years later, when talk-show host Dick Cavett pointedly asked whether he could imagine doing what he does as a 60-year-old, Jagger confidently replied, "Easily." In 2006, he and Keith Richard were 63 and Charlie Watts was 65, probably all secretly glad they hadn't made their names singing, "Hope I die before I get old."

The film looks great, no doubt thanks to Scorsese's insanely high-profile lineup of cinematographers, including supervisor Robert Richardson, John Toll, Andrew Lesnie, Robert Elswit, Ellen Kuras and even 81-year-old Albert Maysles, who made GIMME SHELTER with his late brother, David. But its strength is in the human details: from Richard's PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN lapel pin to one brief look of exhaustion that flickers across Watts' face. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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