Movie Review: 'Shine a Light'
Even though it's his gazillionth show and he has painstakingly determined the appropriate set list for the venue, Jagger still takes a moment to psyche himself up before going on stage. His need to please the crowd remains that strong.
As it entertains, "Shine a Light" celebrates the Rolling Stones' enduring desire to put on the best rock 'n' roll show possible. Directed with a light artistic hand by Martin Scorsese, this concert film juxtaposes Jagger's perfectionist tendencies with Keith Richards' perpetual and irresistible juvenile delinquency.
Adding backstage snippets and archival footage to the mix, Scorsese underscores how the Jagger-Richards merger of professionalism and rock 'n' roll lawlessness continues to fuel one of the world's greatest rock bands.
Shot in fall 2006, "Shine a Light" pays tribute to a band that remains an extremely vital live act 4 ½ decades into its existence. But anyone expecting the combination of Scorsese and the Stones to yield a rock film on the level of Scorsese's "The Last Waltz" or the Maysles brothers' "Gimme Shelter" will be disappointed. "Shine a Light" is, for the most part, a straight-ahead concert movie.
Scorsese, who has used Stones songs so prominently in his movies that he's probably paid for a few outbuildings on the band members' country estates, brings an obvious fondness for the group to "Shine a Light." He also seems to recognize that the Stones' history is by this time well-known.
The group's longevity, as manifested through its still-electrifying performances, is the story now - one that captivates a boomer audience who can see, through the Stones, that it's possible to get older and still maintain an edge.
Or, more specifically, that it's possible to be Keith Richards and continue to stand up.
Featuring shots so tight you can make out the details of Jagger's dental work, "Shine a Light" offers a concert experience more intimate than anything fans can experience at the band's stadium shows.
Scorsese captures the looks of pleasure crossing the faces of Richards and fellow guitarist Ronnie Wood. These Grizzle Twins collaborate with a playfulness that suggests it's their first rather than their 1,000th time tearing into "Jumpin' Jack Flash." As for drummer Charlie Watts ... well, he's not suddenly going to turn effervescent because Martin Scorsese points a camera at him. Movie magic only goes so far.
Jagger dominates, of course. Whatever creak might have entered his strut hardly matters when his enthusiasm remains so fervent and his body so fit at age 63 (when the movie was shot). The guy rarely stops moving. Or emoting. So much of his performance is about his movements and expressions when he's not singing.
Though Jagger's unflagging energy impresses throughout, his close-quarters duet with Christina Aguilera proves a mismatch in terms of frisson. The age difference is too large to merit more than a semi-vamp from either performer.
Jack White from the White Stripes, another guest star, sings his heart out. He displays great joy at being in such heady company, along with a confidence that suggests he will have a very long career of his own.
Gracious to all their guests, the Stones truly light up with the appearance of guitarist Buddy Guy. With Guy on stage, Jagger and Richards look once again like the English kids who worshiped at the altar of American blues.
See the trailer and local showtimes for "Shine a Light."