Saturday, April 23, 2011

Movie Review: "Shine a Light" (2008)

The main dramatic tension of the Martin Scorsese-directed, Rolling Stones-starring concert film “Shine a Light” seems to be the lack of an ordered set list. Scorsese wants one and the Stones won’t give him one until the very last second. This fact is one of the only things I knew about this movie before I started watching it.
Nevertheless, the Rolling Stones are more active than most people of their age group (even if they can’t get a set list together on time), especially the Glimmer Twins themselves Mick and Keith. Clearly, the Rolling Stones don’t need anyone to feel sorry for them anytime soon.
They don’t require your pity.
The archive interview and concert footage is great and very well selected by Scorsese. At one point a young Mick suggests that his then-two-year-long career could even go as long as another year. Comedy in editing is fully achieved when the screen once again fills with the image of present-day Jagger prancing on stage.
Also, we can tell that Marty had to have a hand in the song selection, which relies heavily on the hits. The biggest surprise after the credits rolled was the conspicuous absence of Scorsese favorite “Gimme Shelter”, which he seems to use every third movie. In fact, if I had to pick one song that definitely would be included before watching, it would have been that one. No matter, what’s here is still great.
Another interesting point is that the subtitles are far and few between, but they are present. Normally, if music plays during a movie and no dialogue is on the screen a music note will appear, often with a dry description like “fast rock plays.” Here they spare us and only include text when spoken.
In the absence of a dramatic arc, I played a game with myself where I tried to predict the best moment of the movie in real time:
I would say the appearance of President Bill Clinton on stage to do a meet and greet with both Scorsese and the Stones is the most surprising, delightful moment of the film. Hillary appears later on, which is really not that shocking when it is revealed that this is, in fact, a benefit for the Clinton Foundation.
…20 minutes later…
OMG, I take that back; Jack White just showed up on stage to duet with Mick for lead vocal and guitar for “Loving Cup”.

…20 minutes later…
OK, now Buddy Guy has just hopped on stage in all his polka-dotted greatness and annihilated the Muddy Waters classic “Champagne and Reefer”. I give up predicting what the most amazing moment is here, because, after all, this is being helmed by Martin Scorsese. There’s no reason for him to let anyone in on anything.

--20 minutes later…
Christina Aguilera just showed up to Christina Aguilera all over the Let It Bleed track “Live With Me”.
Now we have the worst part of the movie at least.

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