April 7, 2008

300 Words About: Shine A Light

"For me the music was certainly part of my life throughout the 60s," Scorsese said. "It became the basis for most of the work I've done in my movies, going from Mean Streets on to Raging Bull all the way over to Casino and The Departed."

Apparently out of ways to include the music of The Rolling Stones in his movies, Martin Scorsese decided to just create a movie entirely about them. Shine A Light is simply concert footage with some archival clips spliced in between songs - and that's not a bad thing. The camera work directed by Scorsese is phenomenal, bringing us extremely up close and personal with Mick, Keith, Charlie and Ronnie. This is no regular concert, though. Bill Clinton opens the show in the tiny Beacon Theater, and performing guests including Jack White, Buddy Guy, and Christina Aguilera, all of whom are better than you would imagine. The archival footage of the Stones as smirking twenty-somethings is well timed and really interesting. You can almost put your finger on the interview where Mick Jagger fully assumed his iconic stature as Mick Jagger. The 2006 Mick is a frenetic, gyrating showstopper with a style that no one else dares emulate (though his voice and face kept reminding me of Jemaine Clement). He doesn't walk, he hop-struts; frequently he looks like he's doing the "running man." It's absolutely incredible how much energy this man keeps up through these tours. Not that his body and Keith Richard's don't show signs of wear. I was actually a little disturbed by the sight of so much dead and wrinkling skin - especially when the camera kept bringing us out to the crowd comprised entirely of distractingly attractive college students. I've never been to a Stones concert, but I wouldn't expect the cast of "The Hills" to be front row. Anyway, Shine A Light probably won't make any new fans of The Rolling Stones, but die-hards
and middle-of-the-roaders (like me) will enjoy the show.


  1. Consider me skeptical about this going in. Huge, longtime Stones fan, but in some ways I'm over them. Yet every once in awhile they do something cool. This was one of those times.

  2. Having seen U23D, I was expecting exactly what I got here. I'm a much bigger U2 fan, but I really liked the archival footage and the intimate camera work here. I think I also have a new appreciation for Jagger's showmanship. Any insight on the audience demographics compared to the typical concert?

  3. I think I'm between a middle roader and a die hard in the Stones fan grouping. I love Exile, Some Girls, Satanic Majesty, Goats Head Soup, and Sticky Fingers, but then again many people do. I don't know their lesser albums as well. I hope to see this soon, a cramped weekend didn't allow it.

  4. I'm not a Stones fan, and I loved this film! I was surprised at the energy and delight in their performances. Scorsese loves music, and so does the band. It comes across well in this film, fun to watch!!

  5. Wow, Chuck - didn't think you could squeeze another category in there, but you've just listed some names that I don't know, so you clearly know your place. I bet you'll enjoy it. Make sure you see it in the theater, though.

    So it worked, Lynda? Yeah I definitely saw some exuberant guys having fun, though you could tell their eyes were tired. Good thing Scorsese did this while both he and they still could. I hope he continues to use their songs, because it always works!

  6. Great write-up, Daniel. I don't mind the Stones or Scorsese but get the feeling with each passing year that their best work topped off ten years ago.

    This latest project seemed like beating a dead horse for both subject and director. There isn't enough concert footage of the Rolling Stones lying around? Why not shine a light on a musician who doesn't get enough attention, like John Fogerty?

    For me, Scorsese will never even be in the same zip code as Jonathan Demme as far as concert films. Harvest Moon was amazing.

  7. I liked both U23D and Shine a Light. I too prefer U2 overall, but I preferred Shine a Light a whole lot more. I just thought that in the end, U23D was nothing more than a good concert {which is what they always give} that used 3D technology in a way I had not seen before. WoW, but the impression U23D left behind was not much of one at all, it was rather forgettable. The only reason I still remember it at all is because I kept the 3D glasses and they are right next to me on my desk.

    There was not much else to it and I wonder why U23D was really made. It was gimmicky and message laden, and I did not think a film needed to be made of it at all, whereas Shine a Light was clearly a labour of love.

    Shine a Light was far better and I really liked your write up Dan.

  8. Thanks, Joe. Interesting point about exposing some lesser-worshipped acts. The Stones definitely aren't doing much new these days, are they? I've not seen Harvest Moon (Heart of Gold?), but I'm always looking for musical docs that introduce a little more to the person behind the music.

    Haha, gotta love those glasses, Nick. I'm sure you'll be able to use them as 3D picks up in the coming years. Wow, great comparison between those two films - you've nailed it. I think I enjoyed U23D simply because it was reminiscent (though not the same) as seeing them live, and I knew all of the songs. But, as you observe, Shine A Light really is a "labor of love," and the archival bits add a lot to the story. It's Scorsese showing us how far these guys have come, whereas U23D was not much different than a DVD of a concert.

  9. "I was actually a little disturbed by the sight of so much dead and wrinkling skin - especially when the camera kept bringing us out to the crowd comprised entirely of distractingly attractive college students."

    Wait till YOU have some of that skin, my friend ... and I'm not talking about that of the distractingly attractive college students, either.

    Thanks for the review. As both a Scorsese and Stones fan, can't wait.

  10. Haha, Rick, I hope not! Mick and Keith look like they're about dead years old, give or take a decade. Hopefully my attempt at a healthy lifestyle will prevent me from reaching that age.

    I don't think you'll be disappointed, especially if you're a bigger fan than I am.

  11. Yeah, I mean, I had no problem writing a review of Shine a Light but I cannot get one out for U23D. Just not much to say.

    I am HUGE U2 fan and I feel worthless, lol, but I'll see what I can come up with.

  12. Hehe, well I have to admit I had too little to even say about this, hence the shortened review. I'm sure U2 will have some important films made about them in the future, so we'll just sit and wait.


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