Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 29 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: Martin Scorsese's concert documentary Shine a Light will show the world the Rolling Stones as they've never been seen before. Filming at the famed Beacon Theatre in New York City in fall 2006, Scorsese assembled a legendary team of cinematographers to capture the raw energy of the legendary band. (Paramount) Collapse
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. 100
    May be the most intimate documentary ever made about a live rock 'n' roll concert. Certainly it has the best coverage of the performances onstage.
  2. 91
    Shine a Light has two maestros, Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger, and once they begin to mesh, around the third or fourth song, they put on a display of showmanship that erases the line between art and entertainment.
  3. 88
    This you-are-there spellbinder is a master director shining his light on the best rock band on the planet.
  4. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Shine a Light isn't the record of a unique event, so it's not on the exalted level of "The Last Waltz." But it has its own fascination. The film is less about the music than about the dedication of show-biz troupers--about doing your job, year after year, as if it's your joy.
  5. 75
    Scorsese's canny use of archival footage makes it more than a mere concert film.
  6. 70
    To call Shine a Light a documentary doesn’t quite nail it; it’s more of a macro-mentary, shot in such tight close-up that you can see the fillings in Mick’s teeth and the sweat stains in the armpits of his sequined magenta top.
  7. 50
    Naturally, age and infirmity are a major subtext of Shine a Light (and, really, any movie featuring Keith Richards). No matter how cadaverous the Stones appear, they keep climbing onstage, and I’ll miss them when they’re finally gone.

See all 36 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 18
  2. Negative: 4 out of 18
  1. BJH
    Aug 15, 2008
    From a guitarist point of view, I loved this documentary. Keith has a very unique style, especially when he plays in open tuning and goes back and forth between rhythm and filling in with licks and leads. Ronnie Wood is no longer as sloppy as he was, probably because is not as strung out as he used to be when he played live. Same goes for Keith. Artiscally this band gave up a long time ago. But as far as a live band, they have never been better than they have the last 10-15 years. Much more sober which makes them a much tighter band. The cinematography is excellent. They cut to Keith's riffs at exactly the right time for example. They know where to focus the camera depending on where the band is at during the song. It really makes you understand the arrangements of the songs, and what made the Stones such terrific songwriters and arrangers back in the day and what makes them such great live performers today. Expand
  2. Robbie
    Apr 5, 2008
    What on Earth is the portentous critic talking about? The experience is sentimental, intimate and perennial. It's equivalent to front-row tickets to a Stones concert. The DP captures the breadth of the Stones' performance perfectly. It's an especially enhanced experience if one sees it at the IMAX. To the music lover: don't miss it. Expand
  3. Jon
    Apr 22, 2008
    Best rock movie I've ever seen. No, not the best concert - the Stones aren't the best rock band in spite of the hype. Martin Scorsese has captured the people who make up the Rolling Stones, focusing of course, on Jagger and Richards. We saw it in IMAX, and that made it even better. Seat shaking sound, perfectly crisp. I felt like I was in the first row, but without the smoke infused clothes and hangover. Go and enjoy! Expand
  4. Andio
    Apr 6, 2008
    I saw the Rolling Stones live last year for the first time and I was blown away. I've been a Stones fan for decades but have never had any interest in stadium rock concerts with their huge crowds and tiny stars on stage. The few stadium shows I've attended were always mediocre experiences. But the Stones' Bigger Bang tour changed my mind. For one, the enormous video screens make every seat great. Beyond that, it was the Rolling Stones that won me over. Rocking songs, incredible performances, unbelievable energy, and every one in the crowd dancing and singing the whole show. And these guys are in their sixties! Watching 'Shine a Light' on IMAX at times made me feel like I was actually at a live Stones concert, but then I kept feeling that something key was missing. And it was. Martin Scorsese covered the two explosive shows at the Beacon Theater in New York with 18 cameras but he somehow missed getting the band. As expected, lead singer and ringmaster, Mick Jagger, gets the most screen time, with guitarist, Keith Richards, coming in a not too distant second. And then there's Ron Wood, the second guitarist, and some might argue, the better soloist, He has juicy moments on screen, but is shockingly absent time and again when soloing, the camera instead lingering on a prancing Jagger or posing Richards. And where is drummer Charlie Watts? Watching 'Shine a Light' one might think the Stones had backing tracks instead of a live drummer. Watts is the quiet one (who doesn't dye his hair) but he's the backbone of their sound, keeping time, holding it down while the boys jump around. I kept wanting to see shots of Watts, not only for the variety of imagery and the visual reinforcement that there really is a live drummer hitting the cowbell on 'Honky Tonk Women,' but also because he's an original Rolling Stone. Sadly, there are only a handful of very brief clips featuring Watts, and just as few wide shots of the whole band on stage. And Watts is not the only one nearly absent from the movie. Although the original members are Jagger, Richards, Watts and Wood (Wood joined in 1974 so he's not actually an original Stone), they tour with a number of key support musicians, including bass player, Daryl Jones (who's worked with them since 1994), a keyboardist, a horn section and three back-up singers. However, except for some brief interplay between Jagger and the back-up singers, the other musicians are absent from the film. It's not so unusual to relegate non-member, support players to minor roles in concert movies, but to avoid them altogether is baffling and frustrating. The support musicians may not be Rolling Stones but they are a part of the band. They are playing the music and adding to the sights and sounds on stage. But 'Shine a Light' mostly kept them in the dark. This isn't how a real concert is experienced. In concert the other players are seen and often featured in the spotlight as soloists. But time and again in 'Shine a Light', we hear a piano riff, a sax solo, a horn section blast, a bass run, but we never actually see who's playing. We neither get full nor medium shots, nor even close-ups of hands playing. We don't even get quick cuts of the support players, as one might see interspersed regularly throughout most filmed live concerts today. Instead, we see lingering shots of Jagger and Richards, sometimes so close you can see the brown behind Jagger's teeth, while a saxophone or some other player wails somewhere off-camera. The Stones sound is some much more than guitar, bass, drums and vocals. A concert is so much more than the starring players, but you don't get that from this film. It's as if the film makers had tin ears. This is baffling because they had 18-camera shooting the action. So the film makers either didn't get the coverage, or they decided in the editing room not to include the other players. Bad decision. This gives the movie, the Stones concert experience, a frustrating myopic feel. I kept wanting to see what I was hearing, but couldn't. I kept wanting to get a visual of the focal point in the song and on stage, but it was not delivered. Even one of the few times Jaggar plays harmonica is off-camera. This left me feeling short-changed. Ultimately, 'Shine a Light' is slightly claustrophobic, with all its medium and close shots. It rarely opens up to show the entire band on stage. The film suffers as a result, as wide shots would have provided much needed breathing room, offering a more open perspective, and also providing the myriad tight shots with context. We do see the interplay between Jagger and Richards, or between Richards and Wood, but we don't see the whole band working together as a unit. And ultimately that's what a live Stones show, or any live rock show is all about--a group of individuals performing together as a band. Even if Scorsese decided that the film was all about the four Stones, he could have easily divided the enormous screen into quads, now and again, so we could see the four Stones working their magic simultaneously in a multi-screen format. This is common place today and highly effective. It's baffling that with all the resources at hand and experience behind him, Scorsese didn't quite deliver the goods. It's as if his infatuation with the visages of Jagger and Richards blinded him from showing us the Rolling Stones. 'Shine a Light' is enjoyable for sure, but suffers from a limited vision. Expand
  5. KevinH.
    Apr 6, 2008
    The editing is too frenetic and too cute, and kow-tows to Mick and Keith at the expense of the audience, robbing us of a master's portrait of the full breadth of the musical construction going on with this fantastic band. Real fans want to see a lot of Charlie and Ronnie, see a taste of Darryl Jones on key bass lines, see Chuck Lavell's super sturdy keyboard work and see the singers and the horn section here and there. The movie was edited like it was for Inside Hollywood - stars only. A sadly wasted opportunity. With The Last Waltz as the bar, this movie fell way short. Instead, it earns the title of the best Stones movie ever, but nowhere close to being a great movie. Expand
  6. BrianD.
    Aug 11, 2008
    What a boring and sterile concert! Clean cut millionaires masquerading as rebel renegades. The sound was crystal clear and the photography's brilliant, but far too polished. Best part was "Champagne and Reefer". Expand
  7. CharlesC.n
    Apr 11, 2008
    Brilliant Director Martin Scorsese shines a light on the Rolling Stones. This backstage production on the Rolling stones touring concerts starrs Mart Scorsese in this music/documentary. My first question is this: How much effort do the rolling stones have to get to pull off of the best that they can be on stage. Its like they're possessed and obsessed. There is only one good song the Rolling Stone's have. Yet the screenplay-work is used like a shaky motion of missed art. This huge disappointment is absolute shit, it is Martin Scorsese's worst movie he has ever associated with and officially produced, written and directed. This creation is nowhere being influential. It sticks with blank refusion in giving up. Its so annoying. It runs on nothing, no motivation at all. Its a complete bore. Absolutely terrible. I think Martin Scorsese is getting way too full of himself in showing off the Rolling Stones. But to tell the truth, this huge touring concert for the rolling stones brings Keith Richards and gang to their worst performance ever. They don't belong on the big screen. Expand

See all 18 User Reviews