Shine A Light
After 45 years, countless live albums, and several live films and videos, it was only a matter of time before The Rolling Stones hooked up with Martin Scorsese. It’s a natural: The biggest band in the world teams with the most acclaimed director since Kurosawa, who seems to be contractually obligated to use at least one Stones song in each of his films. The only surprise is it took so long. Plus, it’s not like Scorsese is a stranger to concert films, having directed The Last Waltz — considered by some to be the greatest concert film ever made.
With apologies to Lloyd Bentsen, I’ve seen The Last Waltz. The Last Waltz is in my collection. Shine A Light, sir, is no Last Waltz. It is, however, a solid concert piece that could have been made by any number of solid directors, yet with one nearly fatal flaw on the DVD release.
Shot at New York’s intimate Beacon Theatre, Shine A Light finds Scorsese frantically trying to put together the show while the band are still out on tour, only getting a set list moments before The Stones take to the Beacon stage.
After that, he wisely takes himself out of the picture, and lets the music do the talking. The drawback is the uninspired performance. Despite good song selections, The Stones never quite catch fire. The exceptions being when guests Jack White and Buddy Guy arrive to give them a kick in the pants — White on “Loving Cup” and Guy joining them for a run through Muddy Waters’ “Champagne And Reefer.” Christina Aguilera also shows up to lend her vocal gymnastics to “Live With Me” — which makes for a film version of “what doesn’t belong in this picture.”
Yet what almost kills the DVD release is the atrocious 5.1 sound mix. Instruments are buried in the background, while the leads are jacked up to ear-splitting levels, then backed down again. Very distracting. Listening in normal stereo partly negates the effect.
A small special-features section includes four songs not included in the film, and with good reason. (Note to the band: Please stop letting Keith Richards sing. ‘Nuff said.)
The behind-the-scenes section plays out better than the actual film, however. It’s always great to hear Guy telling tales about his days with Waters and to see Mick and the boys talk with Albert Maysles, the director of the best Stones concert film, Gimme Shelter.
One final question for The Stones: When is Darryl Jones going to be made an official member? He has been playing bass since 1994, a tenure with the band longer than Brian Jones and Mick Taylor combined. Just asking.
Film: *** Features: ***
The Inglorious Bastards
When Quentin Tarantino announces a new film project, it’s big news. Despite coming out and seeing his shadow with a new flick every few years, the results have been mixed at best. So when he says a remake of The Inglorious Bastards, an obscure Italian-made World War II pulper is in the works, the interest in the original shoots sky high.
Enter Severin Films, which releases the flick in a three-disc set. The 1978 film features B-pic mainstays Bo Svensen and Fred “The Hammer” Williamson as part of a group of escaped Army prisoners out to ditch the war and head to Switzerland. On the way, they mistakenly mow down a covert American group out to sabotage a Nazi train. Of course, they take over the plan themselves.
Typical of most English-language films made in Italy, there’s stilted acting and a gratuitous scene with several naked women, but director Enzo Castellari handles it a notch better than average. Just a notch, mind you, but a notch just the same.
Tarantino starts the hype machine early by appearing in a feature with Castellari, and a documentary features Castellari, Svenson, Williamson, and other members of the cast and crew.
Bastards won’t make anyone forget other war movies of the time such as The Big Red One or Apocalypse Now, but then again, it never tried.
Film: ** Features: ***
Also Available . . . 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and MGM Home Entertainment are teaming up again this year with “DVDs For The Cure,” which will release special versions of Edward Scissorhands, The Princess Bride, Just My Luck, Little Miss Sunshine, and When Harry Met Sally on September 23rd. The promotion seeks to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research with portions of the specially packaged releases’ $14.95 price tag going to the Susan G. Komen For The Cure organization. The five new titles join the 10 released last year for the event, which include Legally Blonde, Moulin Rouge, Thelma & Louise, and There’s Something About Mary, among others.
– Timothy Hiatt
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