Monday, June 30, 2008

Shine a Light Leaves Us in the Dark

Okay, so here's my first movie review to start getting caught up. The rest won't be as verbose, but since I'm a big fan of both The Stones and Scorsese, I was left pondering what the hell went wrong with Shine a Light

At the start of this rock-doc, it shows Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese haggling over the particulars of where to film it. Mick wanted a huge venue. Marty wanted to go small and intimate. Marty won the battle and filmed this at the Beacon Theater in NYC, but it was a Pyrrhic victory and at least partially because of the location, Marty lost the war.

He went all out with the cameras and angles, and even this soulless and lackluster film will never take away from his concert masterpiece, The Last Waltz. Possibly, he was trying to make a bookend to that brilliant farewell performance from The Band as he intercut the articulate and natural storyteller Robbie Robertson and workmanlike Levon Helms and drifty-lost Rick Danko interviews amongst the concert footage.

In Light, he intercuts some rather old interview footage of Mick and Keith to give perspective, but by now, we all get it. The Stones are still going. But The Stones are also a stadium band. Jagger knows that. Scorsese, I'm sure, wanted to show a different side, but that's just not what The Stones have become. They aren't small and intimate, nor any longer particularly relevant. They coast on their catalogue, and shit, that's not an insult, because it's a fucking hell of a catalogue. But they're also a band that you pay an outrageous amount of money to be stuffed in a stadium with 50,000 other people who're getting high and drinking too much and just shouting along to "Satisfaction" as their eyes glaze over from the enormity of the stage and all the flashing lights as Mick struts his still-tiny little tush around.

In an intimate setting, The Stones still play tight, man, tight. (again, not an insult.) But the only truly intimate moment that works comes, of course, from Richards as he commands the stage and takes the mic to sing "You Got the Silver." There's still something indescribably mesmerizing about him. But the rest of the time, even with some cool guests to help pull the load, this movie just never manages to get its ya ya's out.

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