Friday, April 18, 2008

Shine a Light: in IMAX

To see a movie on an IMAX screen is to get the bigger and better aspect of a film. You pay extra for the huge screen and booming sound. For the first 15 minutes of Shine a Light, Martin Scorsese’s new concert documentary on the Rolling Stones, audience members were restless.
The image on the monstrous screen was, for some reason, reduced to the size of a typical movie theatre screen. Speculation was in the air, and it was hard to concentrate on Scorsese, battling with Mick Jagger on what the song list is going to be and other fouled concert preparations.

Suddenly, as the concert begins, Keith Richards strums the first few chords of the masterful “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and as Jagger comes running out on stage the image on the screen expanded to its full capacity. We were all tricked, purposely by the genius of Scorsese, who takes time to deliver such marvelous thrills, spending wondrous chills right up our spines.
Unfortunately, the rest of the movie does not live up to the high intensity of that moment. Jagger makes an effort to play lesser-known songs by the Stones. Don’t expect “Paint it Black” “Gimme Shelter” “Satisfaction” or many other Forty Licks hits. Shine a Light is a film for true Stones fans, and Scorsese is okay with that.
Great appearances from Jack White, Christina Aguilera and Buddy Guy keep the film entertaining. But the highlights are when Scorsese takes the time to dive back into the history of the Stones, via old interviews and news clips.
As usual for a Scorsese picture, the fast paced cinematography and sharp editing are highlighted. The director himself seems not to know what will come next, but damn if he isn’t prepared for it, hitting all the best angles.
For the two days in 2006 when the Stones played at the Beacon Theater in New York City, Scorsese was there to capture it all. From Jagger’s hyper-active, almost erotic dance moves, to Richards’ devilish grin and magnificent plucking of the guitar, it’s hard not to enjoy yourself. The fact that these men are now in their 60s makes you appreciate the show that much more, or as Richards’ tells the crowd, “It’s good to see you all, it’s good to see anybody.” B+

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