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SHINE A LIGHT (director: Martin Scorsese; cinematographer: Robert Richardson; editor: David Tedeschi; music: Rolling Stones; cast: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, Charlie Watts; Runtime: 122; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Victoria Pearman/Michael Cohl/Zane Weiner/ Steve Bing; Paramount Pictures; 2008-USA/UK)
“Not much light to shine on the aging Rolling Stones.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Not much light to shine on the aging Rolling Stones (all in their sixties) in this merely so-so entertainment spectacle that plays out as an unnecessary slick homage documentary to the Stones by the 66-year-old filmmaker Martin Scorsese (“Kundun”/”The Last Waltz”/”No Direction Home: Bob Dylan”), who highlighted their music very effectively in several films (including in Mean Streets-1973). Aside from being overlong, having nothing new to say about the senior citizen rockers, and its being nothing short of a public relations piece, the backstage concert documentary filmed over two days in October at the famed Beacon Theatre in NYC in 2006 for a benefit concert for the Clinton Foundation, merely shows off the Stones’ cool and their gift for showmanship. It sprinkles vintage interview clips from the old days throughout and plays such crowd-pleasing tunes as their familiar “Jumping Jack Flash,” “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Sympathy for the Devil,” “As Tears Go By,” “Shattered” and “Start Me Up,” plus their less well-known tunes such as “You Got the Silver,” “Far Away Eyes,” “Loving Cup” and “Live with Me.” The following guests join them on stage: Buddy Guy, Jack White, Christina Aguilera.

If you followed the band for the last five decades and dig their sounds or you’re a newcomer to their legendary fame as the greatest rock band ever, then this is probably an easy film for you to grab onto to get some rock nostalgia. But it doesn’t have the pertinence of Gimme Shelter (1970). The film’s most dramatic moment comes at the beginning, as Scorsese frowns over his trying effort to get a copy of the Stones’ set list of songs so that he can figure out how to shoot the opening number. Since I gave up caring about the Stones some 35 years ago, this film didn’t induce me to get back on track with these spry old timers who still have the energy and will to be in the spotlight and play the rock game. The 63-year-old still skinny and energetic lead singer Mick Jagger, a rocker for life, never sheds his public mask, and all you get here is a good seat to watch the Stones in action as the multiple cameras strategically placed in the theatre catch more of the action than if you were there live.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”