[Review]Lots of gyrating, but there’s still no satisfaction

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[Review]Lots of gyrating, but there’s still no satisfaction

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The Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards (left) and lead singer Mick Jagger rock out in “Shine a Light.” [OutNow.ch]

There’s a reason why we don’t watch concert DVDs on the big screen. Fans go to rock concerts for the sheer immediacy of seeing an act in flesh and blood, and let’s face it, such performances on screen are just a poor man’s version of the real thing.

So unless you were at The Rolling Stones’ shows at the Beacon Theater in the fall of 2006 and just want to relive the experience, Martin Scorsese’s rockumentary “Shine a Light” is going to leave you yawning.

The film, despite its big-name director and its legendary subjects, is basically a concert recording projected onto a movie screen with maybe a total of 15 minutes of archive footage spliced in.

The opening is interesting enough, as Scorsese portrays the lead-up to the concert as a friendly battle between two opposing forces - his neurotic, precise director self and the loose, unbridled nature of band frontman Mick Jagger. The behind-the-scenes look is captivating; so that’s how rock stars decide on the set list, viewers will think to themselves.

But the audience only gets the briefest fascinating, voyeuristic look into the band’s reality, as most of the film is just the rock performance from the concertgoers’ point of view. Yeah, it’s amusing to see Mick Jagger’s wrinkles with the help of high definition and a zoom lens, but that’s not really why we’re watching.

The point of rockumentaries is to get an unabashed, invasive look at the celebrities who charm us on the stage and through the airwaves. Instead, Scorsese, who largely disappears after the opening, presents us with the same old stuff we can see on YouTube.

The concert’s visual impact is exciting, but only for the first half hour. After that, the careening spotlights flashing, the frenetic energy onstage and Jagger’s wild gesticulations and gyrating hips get old. After a while, we just wish we could actually be at the show, smelling the sweat of fellow Stones enthusiasts and screaming along until our throats become raw. Even in a movie theater, the recorded surround-sound doesn’t compare to the raw aural treat of a live concert.

The only cinematic punctuation marks come in the snips of old interviews from the band’s past and guest appearances.

For someone who wasn’t alive when the Rolling Stones debuted, it’s amazing to see Jagger’s unlined face and his boyish grin as he speaks about his aspirations of “doing this for another year or so” after two years of rocking. Footage of wildcat Keith Richards and the relatively sedate drummer Charlie Watts humanizes the rock gods, especially when Watts, in a black-and-white interview, muses on what he’d be doing were he not a musician.

Guest stars include Jack White of The White Stripes, whose supporting role in “Loving Cup” is frankly a bit lackluster, bluesman Buddy Guy and pop diva Christina Aguilera.

It’s a bit disturbing to see Jagger grinding his sexagenarian pelvis against Aguilera’s lithe backside, but the woman can sing. Guy, more of a contemporary to the Stones, contributes the most with his twangy guitar.

But as the film drags into concert oblivion, fans looking for more enlightenment on the Stones simply can’t get no satisfaction.

Shine a Light
Documentary, Music / English
122 min.
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By Hannah Bae Contributing Writer[hannahbae@gmail.com]

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