Alright guys, thought I would drop a quick review. First off, I haven't been here in a while so let me say it is great to be here, etc. Alright on with the show.
I got 2 advance screening passes from a friend this week for an IMAX showing of SAL and jumped on it like a gold digger on a rich widower. My first impression - not perfect, but what's good is VERY good. Now, I have not had much experience w/IMAX as I always thought it seemed a bit too much, a little overwhelming for my taste. I hoped going in that past reaction towards the format would not taint my enjoyment. That said, let me tell you - from the opening chords of JJFlash (about 20 minutes or so into the film), it was like the wind was knocked out of me. Tremendous! It was all gravy from there, my friends. I won't go into a detailed review, but instead just ;ost a few of the film's notables:
- Jagger. Good lord, the man is amazing - a true champion in his game. While his vocal performance was fine (his singing was probably better overall on the 4Flicks and Biggest Bang dvds), his stage presence and physical energy were astounding. No one will ever top him as the World's Greatest Frontman.
-The sound mix was gorgeous. Loud, crunchy guitars and an absolutely brilliant mix. The channels were so elegantly tracked, my hats off to the sound people. Could have used more bass though. Whether it be Darryl, Wyman or your pot-smoking uncle in a Stones cover band, I would have liked some more bottom end. Could have used a little more Charlie at times too.
-I wondered before seeing it, what could Scorsese really bring to this project? True he is one of the world's great directors, but this is still just a concert film after all. How bad could somebody screw it up, and likewise, how great could someone possibly make it? Well let me tell you, he was The Man for the job. The camera work was terrific, the pacing tight and, maybe best of all, the FEELING was there. You could tell this was as much a tribute to the Stones from a longtime and loving fan as it was a "concert documentary".
-The song selection, one of my only gripes. Except it's not really a gripe. But I could have done without "Imagination" and "Tumbling Dice". I think there are a great many more interesting cuts that could have been used for this, both from what was actually played at the 2 shows and from what was considered (as you see early in the film while they're planning the concerts). Songs that I didn't expect to shine glowed (She Was Hot, Satisfaction) while others had me looking at my watch (namely "Sympathy for the Devil").
-The playing: The rolling Stones were in top form. That says it all. Charlie = solid as a mountain. Ronnie = the surprising underdog contributor, good all around. Keith = sloppy but serviceable leads, mean crunchy rhythm and total child-like charm. Mick = well, I have already commented on him. The backing bad was in fine form, with just enough Chuck but not too much
-Finally, highlight songs: "JJFlash": a good, strong, down-to-business version. "Loving Cup": a total high. I know some of you guys don't like Jack White. Personally I think he's great. In addition to a fine vocal performance, it wasa treat to see his usual sullen and frowning self smiling like a child on Christmas morning by getting to sing with Mick. "She Was Hot": Started off just okay, with Mick clearly not TOTALLY comfortable with the song. By the end though, man, it was cooking! Typical Stones: start sloppy, end beautifully - the mark of a true band. "Champagne and Reefer": possibly the best thing in the movie. The band gets into such a groove! And watching Buddy & Mick try to out do each other on guitar and harp respectively is a treat (the reaction of the winner of this show-down is priceless). "Far Away Eyes": what can I say? A good version (if a little much of a overdramatic Mick performance) that peaks with a Mick and Keith singalong. Staged or not, it was moving. "Satisfaction": Never thought I would say it, but of all the Hot Rocks in the movie (JJFLASH excluded), this was the sweetest. Top-notch vocal from Mick and a good, mean, dirty guitar from Keith.
Whoops, this went longer than I had intended. Let me just leave it at this: again, not everything's perfect here. Did you expect that? If so, maybe you should get out more often. But I will say this much, "Shine A Light" (at least one my first viewing) not only exceeded my expectations, but will probably stand as a big, bright jewel in the Stones' rock and roll crown.
GO SEE IT! (And preferrably in IMAX if you can).