Band of brothers. Martin Scorsese knows his rock-n-roll. He knows how to film it, document it and enunciate all the sounds, focusing on everything cool. But can he save the Rolling Stones, now in their fifth decade, with a concert engulfed in lights, camera, and action? Well kind of...
Shine follows essentially the same pattern of Scorcese's excellent opus, The Last Waltz, The Band's farewell show. The film starts with black-and-white footage of Scorsese and Mick Jagger talking by phone. Immediately humorous and edgy, we wonder if they will ever see eye-to-eye on anything. Jagger bitches about the hot lights and Scorsese nervously wants to open with the correct shot.
The concert is held in 2006 at the Beacon Theatre in Manhattan. Bill Clinton introduces the Stones allowing for a hilarious "meet and greet" installment; a co-mingling of rock stars and politicians.
Musically, the Stones take at least three songs to warm up. I know we have to give them credit because they're old, but if you heard them playing on the radio, not knowing who they were, you'd change the station. There were some surprises though, mainly the slower songs. "As Tears Go By" and "Far Away Eyes" were standouts. The high point of the entire concert was Richards accompanied by Ronnie on acoustic guitar performing "You Got the Silver," singing better than I thought possible. Richards is a lovable mess, as long as you didn't see his Auschwitz-skinny arms too often. Jagger is in phenomenal shape and the sheer stamina of these old guys has to be applauded.
But, in true rock star fashion, the songs drag WAY past the point of tolerance. Lacking dynamics, the music reaches one level and stays that way for what seems like eons, perpetually reminding us they are the Rolling Stones-having a good time-at our expense...forever.
The well-placed archive footage delivers some prophesizing. In the 1972 Dick Cavett interview, Cavett asks Mick, "Do you see yourself doing this at age 60?" Mick replies without pause, "Yes, definitely. " Watts and Jagger come off as highly intellectual and Richards...well, you wonder which blood type he was functioning on during his interviews. Admittedly, he feels damn lucky to be here. Onstage he mutters to the audience, "Nice to see ya-hell, nice to see anything these days."
While The Last Waltz featured artists The Band had performed with over the years, the Stones' guests Buddy Guy, Jack White and Christina Aguilera seem contrived and picked out of a hat, though they do bring the performances up a notch.
Scorsese, and admitted Stones fan who's used the band's music in a number of his films, never misses a beat. Through supreme camera work and near-perfect editing he makes it all look good...better than the Stones can ever sound. He's a master of directing the live concert. His genius overshadows the Stones' performance, but they do manage to be as good as they possibly can and that's the point isn't it? These guys (Stones/Scorsese) are both about overkill and oddly, it was nice to see them together for the first time.
Shine a Light
Starring the Rolling Stones. Directed by Martin Scorsese