Shine A Light

Martin Scorsese is one of the reasons I thank God that I’m a filmmaker and that the craft exists. Shine A Light just exemplifies that statement all the more.

This behind-the scenes concert film/documentary gives a look at what goes on behind closed doors leading up to this historic show by the Rolling Stones. You get some candid interviews with the key members: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards (when you can understand what he’s saying, ha!), Ron Wood and even the usually quiet Charlie Watts chimes in a bit. There’s some great moments with Martin Scorsese such as when he’s expressing his frustration about getting a set list in order to figure out how he’s going to shoot. The set list by the way is pain-stakingly crafted by Mick and presented just shortly before the show actually starts, which is a filmmaker’s nightmare.

Some of the insider moments include Mick questioning Martin about the use of the crane camera and how the fans will find that annoying as well as Scorsese’s use of lights to accentuate the film (something that also bothers Mick a bit).

In addition to these private moments, there’s some great vintage footage from “back in the day” with various members of the group discussing different topics as well as current questions and footage such as Keith Richards answering the question: “Who’s a better guitarist? You or Ron Wood?”

Then there’s the performance. Hey, it’s the Rolling Stones, not much to say here other than there’s a good reason why they’re regarded as the greatest rock and roll band. The show is fantastic and looks beautiful thanks to Mr. Scorsese and his crew; that man knows how to make things look amazing.

There’s also some special guests for this intimate show at the Beacon Theater in New York (oh, to have been there in the crowd, damn!). The show was organized by the Clinton Foundation as a fundraiser, so naturally, Bill Clinton and Hillary and their entourage show up and actually appear in the film for a bit. Keep your eye on the crowd for Benicio Del Toro and Bruce Willis (no, I’m not kidding).

The musical guests include Christina Aguilera and Jack White of the White Stripes. The highlight musical guest for me was definitely Buddy Guy who joined the band for an incendiary version of the Stones’ classic “Champagne and Reefer”. They could’ve just kept riffing on that song for another half hour and that would’ve been just fine by me.

If you’re a Rolling Stones fan or even just a music fan, hell, if you don’t even like music but like Martin Scorsese, check out Shine A Light!

reviewed by Sean McKnight