The Final Ya Ya's
First off let's get one thing straight: it ain't no Last Waltz!
The other night I saw, courtesy of Paramount Pictures, the new Stones–Scorsese picture, Shine a Light at the IMAX Theatre near Lincoln Center here in New York. As anyone who's seen it knows, the "IMAX Experience" is something akin to going over Niagara Falls in a barrel; something that closet Nazi Walt Disney left behind to torture anyone fool enough to slip into its clutches. With a sound system that is the very embodiment of those famous '70s vintage Pioneer ads— you HAVE to sit back in an IMAX theatre— the IMAX ain't for everyone. Seeing Mick Jagger's wrinkled face coming at me four stories tall nearly had a recently consumed club sandwich spilling out of me onto my New Balances. I remember thinking years ago that Vincent Price in the3–DHouse of Wax, with that damned carnival barker armed with the paddle ball winging towards your head was bad, but IMAX is positively brutal.
And after more than two hours of the Stones you do end up feeling like you've been punched or at least kicked a couple of good times in the eyes and ears. Too loud and too large. Some observations:
Scorsese on lighting at the Beacon Theatre: "We can't burn Mick Jagger."
Keith after being told he had to meet more of Ex-President Clinton's guests: "Hey Clinton, I'm bushed!"
Keith on who is the better guitar player, he or Ron Wood: "We're both pretty lousy, but together we’re better than the next ten guys."
The beginning when Scorsese gets exasperated trying to deal with the Stones is self– serving and dumb. Marty needs to stop trying to be Woody Allen.
Mick Jagger is the most preening, overweening ego on earth. No human has ever loved themselves more. He's also the most in–shape sixty year old on earth. He is a ball of energy throughout the film. Of course that keeps the camera on him all the bloody time. His dancing/mugging/theatrics though are nothing short of amazing. You get fatigued just watching.
I was also struck, mostly during guest Buddy Guy's appearance, that Jagger has no voice at all really. He's made a career out of talking or singing in a very flat, nasal sort of bluster.
Another guest Christina Aguilera was like Jagger treats. He lapped it up. The look on his face when she turns her back towards him and they shimmy together, his hand around her waist, drawing her closer, is priceless. The amount of women that man has had, I mean HAD dammit, is absolutely incredible.
In a number of shots, when the lights were directly on him, Jagger's dye job was showing badly. And Woody's black dye job is just silly. And when Jagger walked towards the drum risers and a camera shot him full in the face, oh lord, did the wrinkles reveal themselves.
Musically, the newer songs like "Start Me Up" dragged while older material "All Down The Line" in particular, really cooked. Missed "Sweet Virginia" though. And for some odd reason, there was no performance of the title cut which is one of the band's very best: "Saw you stretched out in Room Ten O Nine/ With a smile on your face and a tear right in your eye…"
The complete lack of fresh interviews seriously hamstrung the film and made it just another overlong concert film. I mean if this was a show from 1972 maybe, but 2008… please. This will conform for you that you never again have to pay wildly inflated ticket prices to see their now ancient satanic majesties.
Keith Richards, whose wizened visage is a truly a wonder to beholdnot to mention that spangle adorned doorag thang he's got wrapped around his head, is the only human being in the band. Charlie is a robot as the vintage interview footage that Scorsese sparingly cuts into the film shows. Woody is a cipher of sorts. No real flavor there. He needs Stewie, and they need to be drunk for him to have a personality again. And then Jagger, well, the authentic juice seeped out of that sweet and bitter fruit a long time ago didn't it? It's Keith who truly benefits from the film and comes off as likable and real. Between his bent fingers and creased face (with eyeliner of course), he IS the Rolling Stones isn't he?