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I must confess: I’m not a huge fan of the Rolling Stones. I do like some of their songs, but only because they’ve put out so many. “Paint It Black,” “Miss You” and “Star Star” are all awesome, but they’re not the “popular” songs, so none of these greats are played in the new documentary on the Stones, Shine a Light, directed by Martin Scorsese. Even though the film is a bit of a disappointment, it’s still a movie to see.

shine a light

The Stones are performing as part of a benefit concert for Bill Clinton, and Scorsese is filming it all for this movie. There really is no plotline: most of the movie is made up of footage from this concert and archive footage from the Stones back in the day. Scorsese is known for his use of pop music in his movies, and the Stones are regularly featured on his soundtracks. (In fact, he’s used “Gimme Shelter” in three different movies.) It’s only fitting that he would direct the Stones, and there are some shining moments throughout.

Just like an actual concert, the movie depends on the set list the Stones use during their performance. The song choices are pretty uneven, but understandable given the audience at the benefit concert: for every great, ballsy song like “Sympathy for the Devil,” there’s a not-so-great pop tune like “Start Me Up” right around the corner. There’s something transcendental, though, about the opening number (“Jumping Jack Flash”), the way Scorsese orchestrates it as a character in the movie and as the director of the movie, but few of the songs equal this power.

The film opens and ends magnificently, just like Scorsese should handle it. The problems occur in the middle where the movie tends to drag. But there’s nothing like seeing Mick Jagger sing and jump around the stage, giving off the same energy levels he did 40 years ago. Shine a Light is no Gimme Shelter-the 1970 documentary about that one night at Altamont-but it’s definitely a movie worth checking out for a couple moments of wonderful magic.

Rating: 7/10


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