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With: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ron Wood, Jack White, Buddy Guy, Christina Aguilera, Martin Scorsese
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language, drug references and smoking
Running Time: 122
Date: 02/07/2008

Shine a Light (2008)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

The Family Stones

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Martin Scorsese follows up his long-awaited Oscar win (for The Departed) with this Rolling Stones concert movie/documentary. Scorsese has made some terrific non-fiction films over the years, including Italianamerican (1974), American Boy (1978), The Last Waltz (1978), A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies (1996), My Voyage to Italy (1999) and No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (2005), and though Shine a Light is energetic and effective, it doesn't really have that extra weight and insight that drove the earlier films. Shine a Light opens with its greatest drama: Scorsese vainly tries to get a copy of the Stones' set list so that he can figure out how to light and shoot the opening number. From there, we get a terrific show with a range of great songs (there are three from 1972's classic "Exile on Main Street," plus the title song, which comes during the closing credits). The film gives audience its money's worth with guest appearances by Jack White (on "Loving Cup"), Buddy Guy (on "Champagne & Reefer") and Christina Aguilera (on "Live with Me"). Clips of old interviews with the band members provide ironic insight on the present day. And little on-stage moments -- like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards making eye contact and perhaps relaying little messages to one another -- get us closer to the show than a regular concert ever would. But the film never reaches greatness; this is really just a greatest hits package, and there's no sense as to why we're here. (It pales next to the definitive Stones film, Gimme Shelter.) Yet, even in their sixties, the band still puts on an incredible show, and Shine a Light works as a happy distraction, one that makes you want to go home and put on your Stones records again. Bill Clinton appears, meeting the band before attending the live show (Hillary is with him, but only briefly glimpsed). Robert Richardson was the cinematographer.

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