Thursday, July 23, 2009

SHINE A LIGHT - I just don't get it

Bad joke - what do The Rolling Stones and Martin Scorsese have in common? They both did all their best work before I was born. And, let me be clear, I'm not that young. As if in testament to the sheer ludicrousness of the Rolling Stones' continuing concert career, Scorsese inter-cuts this vanity project/concert movie with vintage TV interviews with the younger Stones, musing on how long their careers with last. And in an effort to make their music seem relevant to the Kidz we also have Christina Aguilera and Jack White guesting on a couple of songs. The resulting film is presumably a must-see for Stones fans but left me cold. It's just a tragic continuation of the failed 1960s radical project. Here we have counter-culture icons, continuing to milk that iconography for their audience - who have themselves grown-up and sold out. The Rolling Stones wait around to shake the hand of Bill Clinton's mother-in-law. Give me a break. Martin Scorsese parodies himself with an unnecessary closing tracking shot. The whole thing reeks of crass commercialisation.

SHINE A LIGHT opened Berlin 2008 and was released in Spring 2008.


  1. BillFenner19678/9/09 7:52 AM

    Completely agree with your review. I just watched this last night. God, what a cringe-inducing mess. Marty really embarrassed himself with all the black and white "behind the scenes" stuff, which, in case he doesn't know, makes up half of what is considered TV these days and comes off as false even when it's not. The whole set list being thrust in his hand at the last possible second seemed a joke. Why on Earth would Mick et al keep their set list a secret? We all have a fairly good idea what the Stones are going to be playing, even though they have a million songs in their catalogue. And then Marty explains to some anonymous bloke off to the side that he really (really!) needs to know the set list so he can point the right camera at the right geezer at the right time. Holy crap! Tell me this was satire of the Spinal Tap variety, please. And then when the concert actually begins, let's be honest, that could have been directed by anyone. Why bother having Scorsese pushing the buttons when you could get Senior Scorsesigo his Mexican non-union equivalent to do the job for a pittance? (Exuse the horribly shoehorned-in Simpsons joke there.)

    Also, away from the film making end of things, the music was horrid! The Stones don't sound like the Stones anymore. Dear God, they've actually rearranged some of the compositions, and Mick sings it differenly, eg "It's all -- all right - now" for Jumpin' Jack Flash instead of the one long "all right" which is how he sang it last century.

    The only -- ONLY -- interesting bits were the old interview clips. They were genuinely interesting and often funny.

    Oh, and the "don't set fire to Mick" thing was scripted, surely. I bet Paul Schrader was off to the side explaining how the fear of immolating Mick is really emblematic of their deep-rooted Catholic/Calvinist angst over the desire of Man to kill God ... you get the idea.

  2. Once again, I couldn't agree more!