Shine a Light (2008)

Slick editing and camerawork aside, this is the music documentary-cum-concert film par excellence by the great Martin Scorsese.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Dir. Martin Scorsese
2008 | USA | Documentary/Music | 122 mins | 1.85:1 | English
M18 (passed clean) for brief strong language, drug references and smoking

Cast:  –
Plot:  A career-spanning documentary on The Rolling Stones, with concert footage from their “A Bigger Bang” tour.
Awards: Official Selection (Berlin)
Source: Paramount/Fox

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Normal
Audience Type: Slightly Mainstream

Viewed: In Theatres
First Published: 5 May 2008
Spoilers: N/A

Martin Scorsese and The Rolling Stones are living legends in their own right. So when they announced that they were to collaborate on a rock-and-roll concert cum documentary, expectations rocketed sky-high.

There’s no doubt that Shine a Light is a personal project by Scorsese who is most well-known for genre-defining pictures such as Goodfellas, Raging Bull, and Taxi Driver. With his latest project, Scorsese has literally redefined the art of capturing a concert on film.

Using multiple cameras helmed by Oscar-winning and nominated cinematographers, Scorsese assembles a team of world-class talents to explore new methods and angles to film Mick Jagger and Co. in action. The results are more than impressive. Together with the slick editing, Scorsese delivers the best film at this time of the year.

Almost telepathically, the cinematographers are able to capture every solo guitar riff and every spontaneous action of the performers, be it Keith Richards stylishly smoking a cigar while singing or Jagger shaking his hips to the beat of Charlie Watts’ drums.

The sound quality is unparalleled. It is loud, dynamic, and crystal clear; it brings you right into New York City’s Beacon Theater itself. Scorsese has done a remarkable job to perfect both the visual and aural aspects of Shine a Light.

“We cannot set Mick Jagger on fire.”

In between songs, Scorsese puts in footage of individual members of the popular band doing interviews or having a lighter moment during past music tours. While everyone has aged, their energy and passion to music are not one bit compromised, giving us two hours of immaculate performances that we inevitably expect of them.

Songs that are featured in Shine a Light include many of Stones’ most well-known pieces – ‘Sympathy for the Devil’, ‘Brown Sugar’, ‘Satisfaction’ etc. Ironically, one of Scorsese’s favorites, ‘Gimme Shelter’ (which is used in some of his pictures), is not performed here.

Shine a Light is an exemplary example of Scorsese’s versatility. From the crime drama, The Departed, he moves easily to a rock-and-roll concert. Next up is a psycho-thriller, Shutter Island, and he is also planning a biopic on Theodore Roosevelt.

His ambitions are unmatched in today’s cinema, often challenging himself to make better pictures. Shine a Light is like the score for our lives and might possibly be in my Top Ten list of 2008. We can’t get no satisfaction indeed.

Grade: A




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