April 3, 2008


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Shine a Light (PG-13)
Martin Scorsese gives us Mick, Keith, Charlie and Ron in Shine a Light, a concert documentary about a 2006 Rolling Stones concert at the Beacon Theatre in New York City.

IMAX is a great way to see a musical performance. Much as with the recent 3-D concert films, IMAX has a phenomenal picture and great sound. You can see every wrinkle on Mick Jagger’s craggy face (not to mention the even craggier face of Keith Richards — it took this movie to make me marvel at how brilliant the casting of Richards as Capt. Jack Sparrow’s father really was) and hear every weird jolt in Jagger’s voice. To see the nearly 65-year-old Jagger strut and bounce around the stage was quite awe-inspiring but to see it this clearly, as if I were perched on the side of the stage, was kind of unreal.

Music — and they play a mix of hits and slightly lesser-known songs — is intercut with archival footage of the band members as shockingly young men including a particularly baby-faced Mick Jagger saying that after two years of being in the Rolling Stones he felt pretty confident that they had at least another year in them. (It’s fun to watch as the “how long are we going to do this” predictions from the band members morph from “who knows” to “forever.”) We also get some cameo performances — The White Stripes’ Jack White, Christina Aguilera and Buddy Guy.

Jack White’s appearance had me thinking about the difference between the “rock star” glamour of Mick Jagger or even David Bowie or Elvis Presley and how it differed from the “geek chic” coolness of the current indie rocker crowd. I’m not sure what that says other than the music here holds your interest but also lets your mind wander — a kind of rock zen that’s not a bad way to spend two hours.

For my money, however, the best bits are in the beginning when we get Martin Scorsese in full director mode trying to bring order to the chaos of concert planning. His understated reactions — to such information as learning if Mick stands in front of some lights for too long he might catch on fire — are perfect comedy and you get his own rock star personality as well as his interest in catching the starlight of the Stones. B

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language, drug references and smoking. Directed by Martin Scorsese, Shine a Light is two hours and two minutes long and is distributed primarily, locally, to IMAX theaters in limited release by Paramount Vantage.