At times, the cutting shifts from the hasty to the impatient to the borderline epileptic, and, while never doubting Scorsese's ardor for the Stones, I got the distinct impression of a style in search of a subject.
He brings all his skills as a filmmaker to the film, but Scorsese did not achieve the monumental dimensions of his movie from cinematic savoir faire. Shine a Light is huge because the Stones are giants.
Scorsese captures the Stones at their ancient, un-ironic best, bluesy showmen who leave it all on the stage every night, never for a moment letting on that they're playing, for the 10,000th time, 40-year-old hits.
What he has created, inadvertently, is an invaluable documentation of semi-fossilized Stones -- musicologists may like it, sociologists should love it and, some distant day, anthropologists will treasure it.
The disappointment is that, unlike The Last Waltz, which got inside the skins of The Band and was clearly a deeply personal work, Shine A Light is essentially just an expertly made concert film. But what a concert!
Aside from threading in a few black-and-white clips of the band being interviewed in the mid-60s, Scorsese doesn't have much to say about the Stones, and their unfeeling professionalism onstage says quite enough already.
Shine a Light combines his foreknowledge with the versatility of great cinematographers so that it essentially seems to have a camera in the right place at the right time for every element of the performance.
Despite Scorsese's efforts to pump up some drama -- the director, with his signature glasses and Groucho brows, gets huffy about not receiving a set list -- drama is sorely lacking. This is just a concert film.
Shine a Light is akin to paying for a very good seat at a Stones concert, and while some of us couldn't do that for real, even if we saved up, Scorsese's fond film...is a stroll down memory lane, conducted by four men who know the way, and know how
This movie is about giving us a privileged glimpse of the Stones in action. It's a record of an astonishing musical chemistry that has been evolving, with no signs of calcification, for nearly five decades.
Martin Scorsese's Shine a Light, featuring the Rolling Stones onstage with their talented friends, rattled my old bones to nirvana and beyond as I searched for superlatives adequate to describe the rapturous vibes let loose by the performers.
Takes full advantage of heavy camera coverage and top-notch sound to create an invigorating musical trip down memory lane, as well as to provoke gentle musings on the wages of aging and the passage of time.