4 Stars out of 4
REVIEW WRITTEN IN 2008
Shine A Light does more than remind us how good the Rolling Stones were. It’s a film that captures every movement, highlight, reaction of a concert alas helmed by venerable director Martin Scorsese. He is not new to the musical genre. He did The Last Waltz in 1978 on The Band’s last concert ever after a 16 year journey. He also did a music video for the song “Bad” by Michael Jackson in 1995, and finally, his well-known documentary on Bob Dylan called No Direction Home: Bob Dylan. After winning his first Best Picture at the Oscars in 2006 for The Departed, Martin Scorsese still is continuing to deliver some of his greater flicks in recent times.
Working with nine cinematographers, all Oscar winners or nominees, he filmed this musifilm at the Beacon Theatre in New York City over a two-day period. Shine a Light screams “Scorsese” especially with the choice of songs played by the Stones, even though “Gimme Shelter” was not played and also the ending is pure brilliance if you’ve seen most of his movies, especially Goodfellas. Here he knocks one out of the park and after witnessing one of the better musifilms possibly ever created, at least in IMAX, it definitely would make one strongly anticipate the upcoming Shutter Island, which will release in 2009.
What is so fantastic about Shine a Light is how it immerses you into this breath-taking performance. The shots by these talented cinematographers are just inconceivably extravagant. For instance, there is a scene when rock guitarist Buddy Guy plays with Jagger and he is smiling at him during the song. Somehow, the camera shoots Guy looking right at the camera as if you are Mick Jagger; it’s also shot from the same angle Jagger is at.
On another note, the proverbial womanizer Mick Jagger is a key character that you get very close to in Light. In fact, so close, you can see the fillings in his mouth and his hilarious reactions when he is intimately dancing with Christina Aguilera in the song “Live with Me.” On top of that, you get shots right next to Charlie Watts banging on the drums all day and even a big gasp from him when he finishes a tough song.
Various films over the past decade, such as Neil Young: Heart of Gold have been shot at performances, but Shine a Light actually makes you feel as if you are at the concert (this could be aided by the massive speakers behind you). Each shot is perfect, and though some songs were not the ones that many would put on their greatest Stones hits, Shine a Light is just sheer genius work by the masterful Scorsese. It’s a film you live with, and want to play to too. This is mainly because you rarely see such a film when you can walk out of the theatre and feel as if you were not only the audience at this event, but on stage with the one and only Rolling Stones.