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Martin Scorsese has proven himself not only as arguably the greatest director of all time, with masterpieces like Goodfellas, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver and The Departed, but he directed a little known documentary called The Last Waltz about the final gig of The Band, to huge acclaim back in the 1970s.
It's no secret that Scorsese is a huge fan of the Rolling Stones, for the majority of his films include at least one song from them in, and Jagger himself even jokes in this part-concert film, part-archive look at the band that this is one of the few times where you won't see a Scorsese film with "Gimme Shelter" in.
The format is as a shell a 20-song rundown from the band, intercut with archive footage and interviews with the band members and those associated with them. It is an intimate look at the immensely popular rock band, who have virtually the greatest longevity in the entire business, having now been together for getting close to fifty years. Scorsese gets behind the scenes and gives us a rare look at the band, and somehow, despite the rockumentary genre being well-trodden by now, manages to make the form rather fresh.
As a sheer musical spectacle, the film succeeds, for the Stones deliver a spirited performance that is clearly them firing on all cylinders. When you combine this with Scorsese's superlative direction; that is to say, his editing and his sweeping shots are truly awe-inspiring, it makes for a unique experience that's immensely well crafted and extremely enjoyable.
It doesn't have a huge amount of depth to it, and doesn't give a prodding look into the Stones, but there are a few clever insights when the band are spoken to; as an unpretentious concert film, though, there are few better.
The legend that is Martin Scorsese: the music of the great Rolling Stones: a live performance by Mick, 'Keef' and the boys in ones of New York's best venues (the Beacon Theatre): all this should have provided the basis for a great film. I was really looking forward to watching this one and sat down with my oldest son in an attempt to show him some good old rock and roll. How disappointed I was: it left me feeling like I'd been watching an advert for washing powder (irritated, unamused and patronised). The music is great; Scorsese's skilled direction is evident in the imagery and good use of background, but this felt too cold and clinical. It was almost as if we were being served up with a caricature of the Stones: a kind of Simpsonsesque parody but without the humour and wit.
My disappointment with this one is probably summed up best by the fact that I found the archive footage was the best part of the whole film. Mick and the boys may be pensioners now, but this film made them seem even older. More Shane Richie (see washing powder reference above) than Jumping Jack Flash. Dooyooers should stick to the music channels: give this one a miss at all costs. A real shame.