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Paramount Home Video presents
Shine a Light (Blu-ray) (2008)

"It's good to see you all. It's good to see anybody."
- Keith Richards, addressing the audience at New York's Beacon Theatre

Review By: David Krauss  
Published: August 12, 2008

Stars: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood
Other Stars: Jack White III, Christina Aguilera, Buddy Guy
Director: Martin Scorsese

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language, drug references, and smoking
Run Time: 02h:02m:02s
Release Date: July 29, 2008
UPC: 097361385945
Genre: music


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ AA-A+ C+

DVD Review

The Rolling Stones may not have coined the term "sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll," but for many years they made the mantra their religion. Several of their musical contemporaries followed suit, but whereas Hendrix, Joplin, and Morrison allowed the edgy lifestyle to consume and ultimately destroy them, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Charlie Watts somehow survived…and prospered. Forty years ago, few would have wagered the hard-living triumvirate (along with Ronnie Wood, who officially joined the group in 1976) would still be alive at age 60, let alone performing. But just like their legendary repertoire, the iconic group continues to thrill audiences of all ages, and put on a show as electric and energetic as any of today's puerile pop pretenders.

Shine a Light may not be the quintessential Stones tribute, but Martin Scorsese has fashioned an eminently watchable film that captures the essence of the Stones in concert. The Oscar-winning director (boy, it feels good to be able to finally write that) and preeminent rock band seem like a match made in heaven, but Scorsese oddly chooses to dial down his own kinetic energy and forego his trademark flash in favor of a more straightforward cinematic approach. Let's get one thing straight right off the bat, kids; this isn't a rock 'n' roll incarnation of Raging Bull. In fact, if it weren't for a few appearances by the director early in the film, it might not be apparent that Scorsese's the maestro conducting the camera ensemble. To his credit, the celebrated filmmaker never upstages his celebrated subject, but a little more Scorsese razzle-dazzle would have lent the potent Stones performances extra punch.

The movie opens with some behind-the-scenes negotiating between Jagger (who fears a mounted camera swooping around on a crane would be distracting to the band and audience) and Scorsese (who argues it's an essential element of a concert shoot) via telephone, and details Marty's anxiety about the song lineup (which Mick doesn't reveal until the very last minute). We also catch a few isolated peeks of the Stones in rehearsal, and the arrival of such stodgy VIP guests as Bill and Hillary Clinton (the concert is a benefit for The Clinton Foundation), and Hillary's mother, Dorothy Rodham, all of whom give the event an unfortunate geriatric feel.

The aging rockers, however, quickly roll back the clock, dazzling their multi-generational audience from the downbeat of their opening number, Jumping' Jack Flash. Though it takes Jagger a song or two to warm up vocally, he soon hits his stride, and his energy level and agility never fail to astonish both the cheering throng at New York's 2,800-seat Beacon Theatre and those of us at home. The almost 65-year-old performer struts and prances about the stage, shakes his skinny hips, and mugs with abandon throughout the two-hour concert just as he has for more than four decades, and never for a second does he look like a caricature of his former self. His face may now sport some wrinkles and sags, but the rest of the package remains amazingly intact. By the time Brown Sugar and Satisfaction roll around at the very end, Mick kicks himself into overdrive, and leaves us breathlessly marveling at his stamina, and wondering whether a steady diet of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll just might be healthier than vitamins, wheat grass juice, and Pilates.

The song set runs the gamut from bona fide classics to more obscure tunes, and includes forays into both country and blues. There's not a dud in the bunch, but Jagger really busts loose on All Down the Line, Just My Imagination, and Start Me Up. Other gems include Shattered and Tumblin' Dice, and don't miss out on four terrific songs that didn't make the final cut, but are included in the disc's special features—Undercover of the Night, Paint It Black, Little T & A, and I'm Free. Special guests Jack White III, Christina Aguilera (who creates sizeable sizzle with Jagger on a duet of Live With Me), and Buddy Guy make welcome contributions, but the Stones don't need the services of others to beef up their act. They're a hefty enough serving of meat and potatoes on their own.

Scorsese is no stranger to the concert film (remember The Last Waltz?), and his omnipresent cameras get up close and personal, so we don't miss any onstage antics or subtle interactions. Jagger rightfully grabs the lion's share of attention, but all the band members receive plenty of face time. Best of all, Scorsese captures the camaraderie that has kept the Stones such a tight-knit unit all these years. There's some wonderful interplay between Jagger and Richards, whose laidback cool and serene smiles nicely offset Mick's gyrations, and vintage interview clips (sprinkled throughout the concert) provide glimpses of the guys in younger days, as well as snapshots of their inimitable personalities.

Such footage makes one crave a full-fledged, in-depth Stones documentary, but that's a project for another day. Shine a Light illuminates the concert Stones, and will stand as a testament to their talent, showmanship, and endurance long after they hang up their guitars. But if Martin Scorsese's fine film proves anything, it's simply this: There's no need to scuttle these legends offstage anytime soon. The Rolling Stones are still rolling, and they're still—unbelievably—in their prime.

Jumping Jack Flash
Shattered
She Was Hot
All Down the Line
Loving Cup
(duet with Jack White III)
As Tears Go By
Some Girls
Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)
Far Away Eyes
Champagne and Reefer
(duet with Buddy Guy)
Tumblin' Dice
You Got the Silver
Connection
Sympathy for the Devil
Live With Me
(duet with Christina Aguilera)
Start Me Up
Brown Sugar
(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction


Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Shine a Light isn't the crispest 1080p transfer I've seen, but the high-definition rendering still provides exceptional clarity and pumped-up contrast, heightening the disc's you-are-there atmosphere. The behind-the-scenes sequences are largely shot in ultra-grainy black-and-white to accentuate the documentary feel, while the concert footage features a modicum of grain to no doubt preserve the look of celluloid and reflect both the gritty rock 'n' roll music and intimate theatrical setting. Colors are vivid and well saturated, but don't really pop (and that's a good thing in this instance); blacks are appropriately inky, while bursts of white light show no signs of digital noise. Each crease and wrinkle on the Stones' weathered faces is aptly reproduced, and individual drops of sweat are also visible. Close-ups give us a good look inside Jagger's cavernous mouth and into Richards' glazed eyes, while rapid camera pans and Mick's frenetic movements never destabilize the image, which looks terrific on a big-screen display.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
TruHD
Englishyes
DTSEnglishyes
PCMEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Paramount goes the extra mile here, with three audio options for discriminating ears. Unquestionably the best, the 5.1 DTS HD-Master Audio brings the concert home with a totally immersive track. All five channels are constantly employed, with distinct but not disjointed separation, fine dynamic range, and solid, well-integrated bass. The vocals (both lead and backup), guitars, drums, horns, and crowd noise wash over the listener, ebbing and flowing like a perfectly pitched audio tide. This is a loud track, one that requires volume levels a few notches below what you may be used to, but even when firing on all cylinders (and please be sure to crank this baby up), it resists distortion, and sounds as pure and clean as it surely did live.

The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track performs equally well, but can't match the level of detail of DTS. Switching between the two, I found the TrueHD possesses all the same layers as the DTS; I just have to listen more carefully to pick them out. Those who like their Stones slightly muted might prefer this option, which still offers excellent sound, but lacks the "pow" factor that concerts like this demand.

A 2.0 PCM track is also a fine alternative for those with two-channel systems.

Audio Transfer Grade: A+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 21 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
4 Deleted Scenes
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: standard Blu-ray packaging
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Not much here (though what's included is identical to the extras on the standard def release), save for the four deleted songs mentioned above and a rather bland featurette. The good news, though, is that all the special features are in glorious HD. It's too bad Undercover of the Night, Paint It Black, Little T & A, and I'm Free couldn't have been integrated into the film's original cut via a seamless branching option, because they're far from second-rate discards. In fact, Undercover of the Night rivals the disc's best cuts, so be sure to check it—and the other deleted tunes—out.

The featurette isn't really a cohesive work, but rather a 15-minute conglomeration of leftover rehearsal footage, vintage interview clips, candid conversations, and an impromptu acoustic jam session. There are more moments with the Clintons, an off-color anecdote from Buddy Guy, and some comments from drummer Charlie Watts that help us get a handle on this too-often-silent musician's elusive personality. It's well worth a look, but don't expect a making-of puff piece.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

Though it's virtually impossible to score front-row seats at a Rolling Stones concert, director Martin Scorsese gives us the next best thing with Shine a Light, taking fans on stage with the legendary band for a thrilling performance made even better by the enhanced video and audio capabilities of Blu-ray disc. As it should, the sound trumps the picture here (though not by much), and brings the Stones to life like never before on home video. With a heady mix of signature songs and lesser-known gems, this iconic rock quartet proves it isn't a second-rate imitation of itself, like so many other long-running bands currently limping around country. The Stones may be seniors, but they're still, undeniably, the real deal. Recommended.

 


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