Thursday, April 3, 2008

Shine A Light

posted by Free Press Houston @ 12:55 PM


Rolling Stones fans will eat Shine A Light up, especially in the IMAX version. Definitely on a par above typical Stones performance films with its deft attention to close-ups and instrumentation and somewhat below such Stones docus such as Gimme Shelter and CS Blues, this Martin Scorsese helmed effort finds the best of the best being finely manipulated by the best.
Perhaps not oddly the rock acolytes drawn to this film, like the type of fans attracted to Stones concerts, will vary from those who want to rock out at full volume to those prone to discomfort because someone is standing or tapping their foot too loudly on the floor.
A prologue reduced in screen size and mostly in black and white shows Scorsese and Jagger sparring over the phone as to whether Scorsese can have access to the set list well before the concert, the amount of lights to be used, and even a meet and greet with Bill, Hillary and Hillary’s mom. Just when this behind the scenes conceit seems about to run out of steam the show begins to start, a running production assistant hands the set list to Scorsese and the screen image explodes to full screen as the Stones launch into Jumpin’ Jack Flash.
The next two songs, Shattered and She Was Hot, find the band missing a cylinder but this is a film that allows the good and the bad. Clinton next to Champagne and Reefer and cherubic Mick next to aged Mick. The songs bounce back with All Down the Line, slow down for an acoustic As Tears Go By, and raise eyebrows with the less known Some Girls. Three songs feature guests: Jack White, Christina Aguilera, and Buddy Guy. All the songs are heard and seen in their entirety with the exception of Connection, part of a Keith Richards two-fer that starts with You Got the Silver. Connection cuts between a laughing angel-faced Richards in 60s newsreel interviews and the present day Richards. His face, etched two stories tall in cinematic glory, looks stone chiseled with wrinkles. One great shot captures Richards in a spotlight silhouette as he spats out a cigarette butt, the spit and ashes twinkling around his form like a halo. A few times during the film Scorsese cuts to prime 1960s and 70s interviews (BBC, Japanese and Australian television) that show a exuberant side of the glimmer twins people under 35 might not be familiar with. With one newscaster Jagger sports the kind of mischievous grin one would associate with Eddie Murphey in wise acre mode.
The show seems over before you know it although Start Me Up is always an indication things are coming to an end. After the concert there’s a brief segment where a tracking shot of Mick leaving the stage merges into the Goodfellas tracking shot, through more than one backstage door and finally spilling out to the street where the camera is greeted by flashbulbs (King of Comedy) and Scorsese himself directing the camera up and away until the image shows the complete lower part of nighttime Manhattan glittering under a full moon.
If there’s any doubt to the integrity of the production look at the list of cinematographers (a few of them award winners) who manned the various cameras. Concert rock films have evolved into outer space since the terrestrial days of The Doors Live at the Hollywood Bowl.

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