Shine A Light (2008) ***1/2

Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 2hr 2min
Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: The Rolling Stones, Christina Aguilera, Buddy Guy
Genre: Documentary
Language: English

No Moss Growing on These “Stones”

In a Nutshell


Straight as an Arrow

Sound Quality

Easy to Hear

Who's That?

Few Main Characters

Naughty Words


Naked people




Start me up! Parents: lock up your daughters and hide the keys, The Rolling Stones are back in town! Well not live, but as close to live as you can get in Martin Scorsese’s dynamic concert film Shine A Light, and shine a light it does on the greatest rock and roll band ever.

Scorsese has always been a Stones fan and has included their music in his soundtracks. The concert was held at The Beacon Theater in NYC in the fall of 2006. Bill Clinton, who was celebrating his 60th birthday was on hand to introduce the band. Before Clinton’s intro, Scorsese sets up the concert by providing some backdrop into the staging and use of the cameras. These scenes are shot in black and white and show both Scorsese and the Stones agreeing and disagreeing on details such as the stage set and song lists. This is the prelude to the bombastic opening about to come.

When we finally hear, “Ladies and gentlemen, The Rolling Stones” the show and the film blasts off. They open with the fiery Jumpin’ Jack Flash as Mick Jagger, dressed in black pants, black jacket and bright red shirt clearly calls forth the title character of the song. Watching him glide, strut and slither across the stage takes us back in time, but he makes it feel as fresh as ever. Jagger’s energy and exuberance are the highlights of the film. Yes, he is in his 60s, but you won’t find anyone in his 60s move the way he does. His serpentine moves are endless and jazz every song. He even out dances Christina Aguilera with whom he performs a steamy duet. Another wonderful guest performer is the great Buddy Guy who sings the bluesy Champagne and Reefer.

Between the songs there is archival footage of the Stones from various times in their career. These clips are at times amusing but unnecessary. They merely serve as a break from the frenetic pace of the concert. Shine A Light is unlike Gimme’ Shelter, another film about the Stones. That film documented a period in time and the tragic death of a concertgoer by a member of The Hell’s Angels. Shine A Light isn’t about anything other than four guys doing what they love and doing it so well that it’s still electric after all these years. Their camaraderie on stage is evident from beginning to end and it shines through their music and into the audience.

Eighteen cameras were used in the filming with exceptional work being done by the handhelds, which put us on the stage. The close-ups of Jagger, Richards, Woods and Watts detail every worn and ragged line in their faces, but who cares what they look like when they can move and sing and play those guitar riffs like nobody else.

The sound of the film is concert quality and it’s loud — take note — it is The Rolling Stones! At the showing I attended there was applause two or three times, namely after Tumblin’ Dice and Brown Sugar.

Scorsese directs with a deft touch. He lets the Stones loose and has the cameras trail the action and it all comes together beautifully.

By the end of the concert and the film we are left with one feeling — satisfaction.

A former teacher of English Literature, Paul J. Cassese taught in the NYC school system for more than thirty years. Paul enjoyed taking the wonderful film courses of Richard Brown and Scott Siegel, and is excited about his new role as an online film reviewer. Going to the movies has been a passion of Paul’s since boyhood. Paul thanks his dad for passing that on to him.


Ron Foti said on April 15, 2008


Loved your review. Felt as if I was there with you at the Concert. Now I have to see it.
Great job!

Joe, the Fortway, and the Walker have made their mark.

marie boggus said on April 15, 2008


great job paul! to think we knew you when…. the review was wonderfully written and i’m going to go see it. good luck in your new role. if you become a food critic/movie reviewer mary and i will join you as back up.

seth gale said on April 15, 2008


You are absolutely right about few other 60 somethings who can dance and move around like these guys! I saw the Stones play a long set in Charlottesville, VA in 2007– it was the first time I had seen them play, and they had the same kind of energy then as I envisioned they might have had in the 70s. I am not surprised that Jagger’s energy is really the highlight of the film! One of the really great assets to their live shows is that, like a productions in any medium (I can think of only maybe U2 or PinkFloyd who come close), they function like a well-oiled machine, from start to finish. It is as if it is all in place for you, for entertainment, and they give you one of the smoothest, seamless rides you can get for a performance. Thanks for the review– you set the stage very nicely for what I am sure is a film about passion and dedication. The Beacon Theatre is also one of the most hidden gems in New York. Seeing the Stones there must have been incredible - it has the intimacy (feel) of a small venue and the capacity for a rather sizable audience. Thanks again-I look forward to your future reviews!

Lisa Toto said on April 15, 2008


So this is what I get to look forward to when I retire! What a gig! Seems like you’re enjoying retirement- doing what you love. You critiqued the movie wonderfully! Great job. Good luck.

Lisa Toto

by Sari Dominczyk said on April 15, 2008


Like Paul Cassese, I am a huge movie fan and I thank my father for passing down such a wonderful passion. This review is great! As a young person who did not grow up listening to the Stones and viewing them as my “old parents’ music” I am actually excited to be introduced to the Stones in a new light. I will definitely see this movie.

SEP said on April 15, 2008


Nice review Paul. Will make sure I see the movie. Good luck on your new venture.

Bonnie said on April 15, 2008


Thank you for this review. I can’t wait to see the film. Sounds like fun. Thanks for the great review BRAVO!!!!

Bonnie said on April 15, 2008


Thank you for this informative review. the movie sounds like a lot of fun Your review was great jBRAVO!!!!

Peggy Barbanel said on April 15, 2008


This well-written review by retired English teacher Paul Cassese is inspired - we can practically feel the music and the house rock; we can envision Jagger strutting and gyrating across the stage, wrinkles and all; we can just about get that contact high that fans attending a live concert would invariably get!! Good job Mr. Cassese - this was a long time in coming!!

Greg Salomon said on April 16, 2008


Wonderful critique of the film. Your lively, detailed description of the characters and montage of the different scenes has not only shone much light on what the film is about, but has enabled me to picture everything in bringing the Rolling Stones alive in my head. Looking forward to hearing more of your critques.

Eileen Dunn said on April 16, 2008


Your review is lively and engaging and has made me want to see the film. Your language and format bring the various components of the film to life. Great job!

Linda (aunt Linny) said on April 16, 2008


Looking forward to seeing “Shine a Light” and your next review, great job Mr. Cassese

Robert Froccaro said on April 16, 2008


Was on the fence about seeing this movie until I read your well-written review. Your enthusiasm shines through brightly and definitely whets my appetite. Like you, I love the Stones, love Scorcese and of course love the movies. After I see the film, I will revisit the review to see how much I agree with your impressions. But I must add that I’ll hold this movie (as I do all concert films) up to a very high standard: Jonathan Demme’s “Stop Making Sense”, the Talking Heads’ concert film that, in my humble opinion, is the best I’ve seen. Still, thanks for the shot in the arm I needed to see “Shine A Light”.

ilene bauer said on April 16, 2008


paul - a very beautifully written and clever review (love the ending!)
of a movie that you’ve made me want to see. i look forward to reading
your future reviews, so keep ‘em coming! best of luck to you in this
new venture (sure beats teaching 8-17!). it’s a perfect fit for you.

Jerry Rossi said on April 16, 2008


I have not been going to movies lately but I musy say That Mr. Cassese’s review of ” Shine A Light” is pushing me into the theatre

Patricia Flotteron said on April 18, 2008


I am just curious if this is the Paul Cassese that I knew so many years ago….If it is I would really like to hear from you. I enjoyed your review even if you are not the Paul that I knew..and I am a litle jealous that I missed this concert!

Mike Director said on April 20, 2008


This review is great. I can’t wait to see the film. Great job.

Al Foti said on April 21, 2008


Great Review Paul…. just like I taught you.

Don’t forget to review Casablanca and Laura.

Kevin said on April 23, 2008


Great review, from the opening line to the last word you capture the energy of the film and the Stone’s. What you experienced in the theatre we experienced in your piece. We can’t always get what we want but we got it with this review.

Steve Galinsky said on April 23, 2008



Thanks to you, my old lady and I are heading out pronto to see this 31/2 star flick based on your thorough and insightful review! We are die-hard Stone’s Fan and wouldn’t miss this opportunity now that you have wised us up and given it 31/2 stars. I’ll be wearing my favorite Mick Jagger duds, prancing around the parking lot before we head on in, and hoping that the use-by-this date on my Viagra was a month too premature. Keep these reviews coming Mr.Cassese!

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