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Martin Scorsese leaps into the madness of the Rolling Stones’ organization in Shine a Light, barely controlling (in a most entertaining way) a documentary that culminates in the Stones’ best concert on film. The movie’s highly entertaining, pre-performance prologue finds a frazzled Scorsese trying to get a clue about the band’s plans for a very special New York City date in 2006, a benefit hosted by Bill and Hillary Clinton. While Mick Jagger quibbles over concepts for the stage’s set and peruses lists of possible songs to include in the show, Scorsese tries to figure out how to shoot something for which he has few production details. Everything falls into place eventually, and after an extraordinary meet-and-greet scene in which Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, and Charlie Watts catch up with the Clintons and sweetly introduce themselves to Hillary’s mom, the Stones launch into a set that leans less heavily than usual on their greatest hits canon.
Longtime fans are sure to appreciate the wealth of generally-untapped material from Let It Bleed ("You Got the Silver," "Live With Me"), Exile On Main Street ("All Down the Line," "Loving Cup"), and Some Girls ("Faraway Eyes," "Just My Imagination"). Jack White, Christina Aguilera and Buddy Guy are on hand for memorable collaborations, but the Stones all alone are truly on fire in the relatively intimate setting of a small theater. Among the highlights is a sexy and even thrilling call-and-response between Jagger and ace backup singer Lisa Fischer on "She Was Hot," Richards’ gracious and expansive solo on "Connection," and Jagger’s witty take on "Some Girls" (which manages to skip over the controversial verse about "black girls"). Throughout the show, Scorsese and an army of camera operators cover the action from every conceivable angle, which results not so much in another hyperkinetic concert film but rather in the kind of graceful, flattering portrayal of a great band that the director mastered with The Last Waltz. --Tom Keogh, Amazon.com
The music of the Rolling Stones has lit up the soundtrack to so many Martin Scorsese films ('Gimme Shelter' has appeared in no less than three of his features--GOODFELLAS, CASINO, and THE DEPARTED) that it's little surprise to find the director teaming up with the legendary rockers for this concert recording. SHINE A LIGHT begins with a few glimpses of the preparation that went into the recording of the show, which was staged over two nights at New York City's Beacon Theatre in 2006. Scorsese also includes some candid footage of the Stones doing a pre-show meet-and-greet with guests Bill and Hillary Clinton, which highlights some of the different personality traits in the band. Keith Richards and Ron Wood are the clowns, always goofing around; Mick Jagger is the consummate professional, always polite to a fault; Charlie Watts caries a real air of dignity, as befits someone who enjoys a dual career as a noted jazz musician.
The bulk of the movie is dedicated to the multi-camera shoot at the Beacon, which captures the Stones playing some of their biggest hits and a few lesser-known numbers. Special guests such as Jack White, Buddy Guy, and Christina Aguilera are ushered on at various points in the show, and the concert footage is broken up by some amusing vintage footage of the band. By using so many cameras, Scorsese captures a side of the Stones that is rarely seen, such as Watts turning to camera and puffing out his cheeks and Richards offering encouraging words to Jack White as he exits the stage. SHINE A LIGHT provides a welcome glimpse into the Stones' world at this advanced stage in their career, and continues Scorsese's obsession (see also NO DIRECTION HOME and THE LAST WALTZ) with documenting some of the most influential characters in rock and roll.