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Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: Raoul Duke ()
Date: January 28, 2007 07:22

From Time Magazine: "The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen"
By Grant Rosenberg/Paris
Friday, January 26

It's been available for years in poor-quality, black & white bootleg copies at a few hundred indie video stores around the world, but there is only one way to see it legally. In 1972, Swiss-born photographer and filmmaker Robert Frank made a documentary about the first Rolling Stones tour of North America after the tragedy of four deaths at Altamont Free Concert two years earlier. The film was called @#$%& Blues, after a song Mick Jagger wrote to anger record company executives with its stark, homoerotic lyrics and the aggressive manner in which he sings them. Although the movie was originally commissioned by the Stones themselves, they blocked its release when they saw the scenes of drug use and graphic groupie sex. After years of legal headaches, the band and Frank agreed to a sort-of compromise: the film can be shown only a few times a year, and Frank himself decides where and when, so that he may be present to ensure the screening meets his approval. In the age of YouTube (on whose servers several choice moments reside), ubiquitous, low-priced DVDs and Video-on-Demand, a film that is only permitted to be seen a limited times per year in one city in its director's presence is nearly inconceivable.

As part of its three-week-long retrospective of Frank's film and video works, a screening was hastily arranged Thursday night at the Pompidou Center in Paris. Despite minimal publicity, the infamous film sold out quickly, the 315 seats snatched up on a first-come, first-serve basis. There was a sense of collective privilege, as the lights went down, to be able to see an original (non-subtitled) copy of the 16mm film projected in a theater with quality sound. The excited crowd was comprised most of people in their 20s and 30s, many soixante-huitards (or "68ers," as the now-middle-aged former revolutionaries are known), a few Anglo-Saxon expatriates and anyone else with a life flexible enough to be able to stand in line on a weekday morning.

I'd heard about the film for years, seen its VHS box with photo-copied cover art at video stores in Chicago and San Francisco (always out, of course), and had read with relish the lyrical synopsis of the film that is among the best recountings of any film in literature: three pages halfway through Don DeLillo's opus on the American cultural landscape of the 20th century, Underworld. So what's all the fuss about? The movie documents a sex, drugs and rock n' roll party that's over despite most not wanting to admit it. It presents a portrait of the band tired of touring and feigning interest, of the boring, naked groupies, of life for a few lads who are already blasé about getting anything they could ask for. When the band isn't playing music — either onstage or in impromptu tourplane jams, where they do seem happy and engaged — they seem tired and uninterested. In other words, like drummer Charlie Watts has looked every day since 1963. It is the hangers-on who partake in the activities of the film's title (though some of it reportedly staged) and do all the drugs — not the Stones, with the exception a blink-and-you-could-miss-it shot of Mick snorting powder off a knife. Keith Richards readies a rolled dollar bill, then plaintively signals the cameraman to turn away before he partakes. Perhaps most pointedly, beyond all the antics of sex, drugs and rock n' roll, the film is a testament to overexposure. Everybody films everybody, all the time, even when nothing is happening. Mick even films himself massaging his unmentionables in a mirrored hotel ceiling.

The sentiment of going through the motions is best crystallized in the moment Keith and a roadie throwing their hotel room TV off the balcony. There's a little too much prudence in the whole affair, and after an initial giggle, the TV's impact seems less than satisfying. Yes, the party's over, and it was an entirely different Rolling Stones that emerged as the era gave way to sailor Mick prancing in soap suds and endorsement deals, all the way to present day, where, with the same waistline and hairstyle seen in @#$%& Blues, he continues to sing "Street-Fighting Man" to adoring crowds.

The only controversy of the film Thursday night was its sound problem. Early on, the theater's speaker system sputtered out a half-dozen times, leaving the soundtrack silent for some two minutes. Save for a few heavy sighs and shouts of "C'est pas normal!," the audience remained oddly quiet.

So what does Frank think of the film 35 years on? And is it true that Mick loves it, but felt obligated to prevent its release to ensure the band could continue to tour? Does its director consider it as an honest document that in all its messy debauchery, anger, humor and impunity represents the true spirit of rock n' roll of the era? Who knows. Rock n' roll may never die, and certainly not before it gets old, but the 82-year-old Frank — who was present at the Pompidou Center to open his retrospective the previous night — was too tired to make it to the screening. Still, the show went on. That's the spirit.

Link: [www.time.com]

Re: Time Is On My Side
Posted by: with sssoul ()
Date: January 28, 2007 09:43

>> he continues to sing "Street-Fighting Man" <<

right.

Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: JumpingKentFlash ()
Date: January 28, 2007 09:58

I really have a love/hate relationship to this movie. It bugs me that the quality isn't too good (Bootlegs) and that the sound is muddy. Not when they're playing, which is super of course, but when they're talking. Those interviews with Mick and Keith. I can't understand a word of what they're saying.

JumpingKentFlash

Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: Nikolai ()
Date: January 28, 2007 11:09

Saw it in London a couple of years ago. Thought it was great on the big screen. Some hilarious moments (Keith ordering fruit, in particular).

Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: CindyC ()
Date: January 28, 2007 17:36

Why is the quality so bad on this? This guy is supposed to be a professional, he was hired by the band to make a film. Is it that he used the wrong film, that he couldn't get proper lighting in all these rooms because there was no time to set up since it was all live? What's the deal. It's very difficult to see in some spots.

Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: wintersway ()
Date: January 28, 2007 17:58

ther are much better copies out these days, much better than the awful vhs copies of 15 years ago

Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: Glass Slide ()
Date: January 28, 2007 18:04

First off, I love this movie, think the music scenes are superior to Ladies and Gentleman.


I bought this on DVD several yrs ago--the quality while not perhaps as good as a regular commercial release is fairly acceptable. I can understand what is being said, that's for sure.


Time magazine wakes up 30 ys later? lol

Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: Lorenz ()
Date: January 28, 2007 18:11

I thought it was terribly boring - all the scenes with the groupies seemed staged and it's neither such a thrill nor shocking to see Mick masturbating...And the fact that the Stones are really bored doesn't make the story more interesting. The movie is mainly so interesting because there is such a myth around it, I think.


Belgrade-Bucharest-Budapest-Brno

Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: Glass Slide ()
Date: January 28, 2007 18:19

The Mick scene lasts for about 5 seconds. No doubt some of it was staged--they have said as much.

As ofr as being bored, not sure I agree with that, but even if so, that is life on the road, which is what the movie was supposed to capture.

Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: Debra ()
Date: January 28, 2007 21:04

I own this movie and I can't say that it's really thrilling and I don't recall the Mick scene mentioned above but I'd bet it is staged. Can't imagine Mick being that unguarded, even then!

Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: loog droog ()
Date: January 28, 2007 21:35

The (staged) reality of this film doesn't live up to it's legend.

It's just not that good.

Especially when compared to the film of the previous U.S. tour, Gimme Shelter.

Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: Riffbuk ()
Date: January 28, 2007 23:05

Never an band so was exposed on film as the Stones were in CS. Or do you have any other examples??

Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: ryanpow ()
Date: January 28, 2007 23:13

Its worth seeing once if your a fan and because Its part of history. And I suppose if you handn't seen it in a few years it might be worth seeing again. But not worth seing over and over. Its not good enough for that.

Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: Erik_Snow ()
Date: January 28, 2007 23:20

I watch CS Blues every 3rd year or so.

Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: Doctor Dear! ()
Date: January 29, 2007 00:40

an overrated movie imo

Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: LieB ()
Date: January 29, 2007 01:07

I love it. Good documentary, despite the staged stuff. Nice atmosphere, beautiful "scenery", wasted people. I agree that the on-stage parts beats Ladies And Gentlemen.

Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: Tumblin_Dice_07 ()
Date: January 29, 2007 01:12

Debra Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I own this movie and I can't say that it's really
> thrilling and I don't recall the Mick scene
> mentioned above but I'd bet it is staged. Can't
> imagine Mick being that unguarded, even then!


You don't remember the scene because he's not really masterbating. Not in the since that you would think of when you heard the word masterbate. This scene is early in the movie and Jagger is rubbing his thing through his pants and then the sticks his hand down his pants......that's all......lasts 5-10 seconds and you don't really see much.....wouldn't really call it masterbation...haha

Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: ryanpow ()
Date: January 29, 2007 01:13

The part I dont remember is mick snorting coke off of the knife. When does that happen?

Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: stoneMe ()
Date: January 29, 2007 01:26

I Think this so called Movie is just an overhyped piece of C?/p
If your expecting the Band at their best you`ll be very disapointed its just a waste of 90 minutes
I waited over 25 years to watch this, NEVER AGAIN

Ever Danced with a One Legged Woman?

Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: HelterSkelter ()
Date: January 29, 2007 01:33

CindyC Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Why is the quality so bad on this? This guy is
> supposed to be a professional, he was hired by the
> band to make a film. Is it that he used the
> wrong film, that he couldn't get proper lighting
> in all these rooms because there was no time to
> set up since it was all live? What's the deal.


Always the CURIOUS LITTLE WIRED FLOWER...... I have it on VHS (my second copy - my first copy really is HORRIBLE) and the quality is actually quite good if you compare it to the original which I saw once at a film festival in LA. It was shot on 8 and 16 mm film (I've read some is 35mm but I don't see it -- GIMME SHELTER/BANGLADESH were shot on 16mm. Some of CB has that look, especially the B/W parts) The sound is pretty clear and I can make out most of the chatter.... My dear Cindy C, have you seen ANY of ROBERT FRANKS books? They're NOT exactlly NEAT (except for THE AMERICANS from the 50's for which he's most famous for) Art is messy my dear, I think the up and down quality of CB actually adds to the charm, I wouldn't want it all super clean and clear - would you ask Jackson Pollack to not make such messy paintings? No, of course not, reason #1 is cause he's dead so he's hard to reach.........

Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Date: January 29, 2007 03:52

Smoke a fat one and watch it - once every five years. I remember the first time I saw it I was engulfed by it. Watching it right up next to telly, stoned w/a friend was great, esp. the Uptight/Satisfaction encore. I turned to him and he was speechless.

"The wonder of Jimi Hendrix was that he could stand up at all he was so pumped full of drugs." Patsy, Patsy Stone

Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: CindyC ()
Date: January 29, 2007 05:37

HelterSkelter Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
My dear Cindy C,
have you seen ANY of ROBERT FRANKS books? They're NOT exactlly NEAT (except for THE AMERICANS from the 50's for which he's most famous for) Art is messy my dear, I think the up and down quality of CB actually adds to the charm, I wouldn't want it all super clean and clear - would you ask Jackson Pollack to not make such messy paintings? No, of course not, reason #1 is cause he's dead so he's hard to reach.........

Hello my good friend!

No No I do not expect art to be all neat and tidy, I have often professed my great love for my scratchy old records compared to a crisp, clean cd. However, as much as I enjoy an old black & white photo, the tone of this film is so dark that I spend most of the time squinty wondering what I am looking at. I feel as though I am missing out on some great moments in history. I prefer to have this film as a documentary rather than something abstract.

Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: Glass Slide ()
Date: January 29, 2007 06:01

The Menace of Mayfair Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Smoke a fat one and watch it - once every five
> years. I remember the first time I saw it I was
> engulfed by it. Watching it right up next to
> telly, stoned w/a friend was great, esp. the
> Uptight/Satisfaction encore. I turned to him and
> he was speechless.


That captures the spirit in which the movie should be watched, imo.

The music sequences, in and of themselves make the whole thing worthwhile--the crazy thing is that the music from CS Blues and the Dick Cavett Show (JJ Flash and Street Fighting Man) are, to me, vastly superior to Ladies and Gentleman---a movie that should have WAY greater than it actually is.

The Uptight/Satisfaction part may be the coolest performance I have ever seen. And the version of All Down the Line is killer.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2007-01-29 06:02 by Glass Slide.

Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: Rockman ()
Date: January 29, 2007 06:02

Smoke a fat one and watch it - once every five years.....

Geeeeez Menace that's a bit hard on the Gals that dont like @#$%&...





ROCKMAN

Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: Erik_Snow ()
Date: January 29, 2007 06:09

"Don't like watching my band's tour in 72? Well it's your loss, fuckaz"


Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: Glass Slide ()
Date: January 29, 2007 06:20

Well stated there Erik!!

Love that picture, it looks like the tag is still on the guitar--seriously, I think that's what it is.

Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: rattler2004 ()
Date: January 29, 2007 07:32

I laugh at parts of this movie every time.

Keith ordering fruit,
Keith going to the hotel lobby in Texas (its gotta be with the hair those women had)
Keith and Bobby throwing the Television off the balcony
Mick's look after Tina Turner (yeah..she was HOT in '72) leaves the dressing room
The car ride with the old codger pulling his guitar out for Mick in the middle of nowhere.

That being said....I have only watched it a few times....once every year or two.

the shoot 'em dead, brainbell jangler!

Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: Bingo ()
Date: January 29, 2007 07:39

Wasn't that Bobby Keys helping Keef throw the TV off the balcony?


Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: Glass Slide ()
Date: January 29, 2007 07:42

Yes, I am pretty sure that was him.

Re: Time Mag: The Best Stones Film You've Never Seen
Posted by: loog droog ()
Date: January 29, 2007 08:04

Keith and Bobby throwing the TV off the balcony is one of the dumbest things ever.

Essentially, it's a scene of the Rolling Stones buying some hotel a new TV.

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