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Laramie Movie Scope:
Shine a Light

A rolling stones concert film and documentary

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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April 22, 2008 -- The Rolling Stones may not be the greatest band in the world any longer, but their longevity, enormous popularity, and continued creative output is a combination that remains unequaled. Imagine what the Beatles would be if they were all still alive and still performing: that would be something akin to what the Rolling Stones are now. So, combine the Rolling Stones with some other amazingly talented people like Buddy Guy and top that off with perhaps the greatest living movie director, Martin Scorcese. Now let Scorcese film a concert and let him cut in some historical footage, and you've got one hell of a film. It's a bit long, but when you are paying IMAX prices, you like to get your money's worth.

This is, in many ways, a typical rock concert and documentary film, only more so. First, we get the setup to the concert, including set design, construction and a lot of back and forth between the Stones and Marty Scorcese. There is a running gag that Jagger won't tell Scorcese what the set list is going to be until the very last second. Marty, of course, wants to know how to set up his cameras for those first shots. The Stones don't like how the cameras are going to be set up. Too much of a distraction for the band and the audience, they say. Marty argues that you need an up close camera that moves. Of course he is proven right. You don't argue with Marty about where to put the cameras. When the action starts, the camera moves are a gorgeous dance. The camera sweeps horizontally across the band, beautifully making the transition from one musician to the next, exactly as the next guitarist starts his solo, often without the need for cuts. Marty's camera coordination and the edits are a thing of beauty.

The concert covers a lot of musical ground from the Stones Blues roots to Country Western stylings to hard rock, including “Satisfaction,” thought by many to be the greatest rock song ever recorded. The Stones even play an old Motown song “Just My Imagination.” They play an old Muddy Waters song, “Champagne and Reefer” with the great blues musician Buddy Guy. The camera lingers in the eyes of Buddy Guy. There is enough anger and power in those eyes to make the rest of the world shrivel up. Even Keith Richards doesn't try to match guitar licks with the older virtuoso. Guitarist and vocalist Jack White joins Jagger on stage for the song “Loving Cup.” Richards takes over lead vocals for a couple of numbers, “Connection” and “You Got the Silver.” The unusual set list includes “As Tears Go By,” “Sympathy for the Devil” and “Live With Me” (Christina Aguilera joins Jagger on vocals for this last song). Like many older singers, Jagger can't seem to sustain a note for more than a couple of seconds during rock numbers, but he's still got a lot of energy on stage, dancing up a storm.

Intercut with the concert footage (filmed in late 2006 during the “A Bigger Bang” tour) is newsreel-type footage of the early career of the Rolling Stones, which dates back to 1962, when the band first formed. In addition to the four longtime band members, Richards, Jagger, Charlie Watts and Ron Wood, bassist Darryl Jones also appears on stage with the band, along with a horn section, keyboardist and backup singers. Scorcese also appears in the film, back stage, in a control booth and also during preparation for the concert. President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Rodham Clinton are also in the film. Bill Clinton introduced the band for a charity concert. This is an old-school band that can still rock. They way they are going they are just going to keep on rocking until they drop. We can only hope the rocking keeps going for many a long year. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2008 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)