Making the Grades
More concert film than documentary, Shine A Light is Martin Scorsese's second musical undertaking -- his first being the heralded The Last Waltz which chronicled the final concert for The Band.
The movie opens with Scorsese fidgeting like a mother of ten worrying about Thanksgiving dinner. Will there be enough cameras? What about the lighting? And how will we be able to follow Mick Jagger's hyperkinetic moves across the stage? It's somewhat amusing, but fortunately for serious Rolling Stone's fans, the acclaimed director is smart enough to lock himself out of the picture once the music starts.
At this point, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood and drummer Charlie Watts take to the stage and begin a long list of songs, opening with a few hits then digressing into more obscure titles. Finally they return for a somewhat more "satisfying" encore. Interspersed throughout the extravaganza are historic clips from old Stone's interviews, which include various reporters asking about the boys' drug entanglements and the ever-present question, "How long do you think you'll keep playing?"
For parents wondering if Shine a Light is a good way to spend an evening with the kids, there are several opinions. Bill Clinton, whose foundation was reaping the rewards from this benefit event, was eager to tell us his young nephew was attending, as were other families he had invited. However, some people may not appreciate the band members' questionable past and the image they represent (even if Mick Jagger is quoted as not wanting to be "offensive or particularly controversial").
One of the most noticeable content concerns within this movie is the insertion of a few sexual expletives into songs that previously were free of such language (the usually mellow Just My Imagination and Satisfaction are examples). It's likely there were a few more profanities in the original version of the film, which was cut before going to theaters so it could be awarded a PG-13 rating from the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America).
Other lyrics muse over the joys of drugs and booze, and Jagger croons his perceptions of the problems of women around the world in Some Girls. Keith Richards, sporting a broach indicating his involvement in the final episode of Pirates of the Caribbean, is frequently seen with a cigarette hanging from his mouth.
Yet perhaps the saddest reflection on the current state of affairs is how uncontroversial these senior citizens appear when compared to today's music culture. Still, it could be argued these four guys were partly responsible for getting the musical stone rolling down the hill of moral decline leading to the sad state of toxic tunes often heard on today's airwaves. And that association alone may be enough to keep some from forking over their box office dollars.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Shine A Light.
At the time of this writing, the band members of the Rolling Stones are all well into their sixth decade. What kind of music do you think you will be listening to when you are “old”? At what time in life, if any, do you think people stop listening to new music, preferring instead to continue listening to that which is already familiar?