Shine a Light

In Films by Brock Bourgase

Martin Scorsese’s film about a Rolling Stones concert, Shine a Light, puts on a good show. I was expecting more of a documentary; not This Is Spinal Tap but a film that shone light on the band’s intricacies, like how that Simpsons’ episode revealed that Keith Richards spikes his lemonade and Mick Jagger mows his own lawn.

Bill Clinton introduces the Stones and mentions that he did likewise at a climate change fundraiser because “they care as much about this issues as we do.” Hopefully they purchased carbon emission credits to make up for lights that were “burning [Mick Jagger’s] ass.” Keith Richards must have a cigarette tech to assist his guitar tech equip him.

Poor mixing aside, it was a satisfying film. It was my second most enjoyable trip to the Bloor Cinema in the past six months (behind His Girl Friday but miles ahead of I’m Not There). Not that Shine a Light is the most sophisticated feature ever produced but there is entertainment, mixed with comedy, throughout the film. In an Ideal Quality World, I would have liked less guitar and more lead vocals.

Scorsese begins the film with black and white sketches chronicling his frustrations in getting a set list from the band so he can plan his direction. The concert itself is interspaced with interview from the band early in their career. Guitarists Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood describe their interesting relationship. When asked by Dick Cavett whether he could see himself “doing this” when he’s sixty, Jagger replies “Oh, definitely,” drawing plenty of laughs from the audience.

And drummer Charlie Watts possesses excellent taste in fashion, self-assurance and self-confidence, and probably a thorough philosophy about life and his place in the world.