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April 23, 2008 - Rick Chatenever
Considering that they’re well into their 60s now, it’s hard to explain the lingering impulse to refer to the Rolling Stones as boys.
Their faces, Keith Richards’ especially, are topo maps on parchment, lined and scored by the places they’ve been, the deeds they’ve done.
They’ve been everywhere, they’ve done it all. They’ve made gazillions, whether measured in dollars or pounds, garnering distinctions like knighthoods along the way … not to mention acquiring the inner knowledge that they’re the best in the world at what they do.
They’re walking — or in Mick Jagger’s case, running, jumping, dancing, prancing — refutations of conventional wisdom about clean living. From “Sympathy for the Devil” to “Champagne and Reefer,” they are poster boys for the residual health benefits of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. Especially the latter.
Unlike other men their age who try to hold back the advancing years with Porsches, gold chains and trophy wives, they haven’t quit their night jobs. They’re pop culture’s answer to the most famous creation of their English countryman J.M. Barrie: Peter Pan.
Rock ’n’ roll — and their affection for each other — is their energy supply, the pixie dust that means they never have to grow up.
“Shine a Light,” Martin Scorsese’s film of two 2006 concerts they did in New York is a glorious celebration of their magic. With a crew of Academy Award winners running the cameras, each song is its own movie. Buddy Guy, Jack White and a heart-throbbing Christina Aguilera — along with back-up singer Lisa Fisher — share pulsing face time with Mick and the boys. They’re not just singing all those lyrics we know by heart, so much as they’re launching them into the stratosphere … and celluloid eternity.
Director Scorsese — Oscar winner for “The Departed,” but a master of this genre, too, from The Band’s “Last Waltz,” to PBS’ Bob Dylan doc, “No Direction Home”— also briefly shows up in front of the cameras, to poke fun at his hyperventilated persona.
In between the songs, delivered with the band’s patented mix of raw power and exquisite precision, are archival video interviews, beginning with a boyish-looking Mick two years into the band’s career, bemused that they’re still together.
The fact that he, and we, are four decades into the band’s career now, makes it all the more miraculous that they’re still together — in every sense of the word.
Not drawing huge box office crowds — but a perfect choice if the Maui Film Festival has an open date in coming months — calling ”Shine a Light” a great concert film belittles its accomplishment. With bashful Ronnie Wood adding guitar riffs and reserved Charlie Watts keeping the beat, my only complaint was that the theater needed to turn the volume up, as “Shine a Light” provided an all too brief moment for all in the audience to snatch some of that eternal youth for ourselves.
A different kind of man-boy is at the center of the hilarious and touching new comedy “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” Portrayed and written by Jason Segel, he is a sad-sack composer of music for a “CSI”-style TV series. He starts the movie by learning that his girlfriend, Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) — the series’ star — is leaving him.
A rebound trip to Hawaii to lick his wounds turns ridiculously awkward when he winds up in the same resort as Sarah and her new boyfriend (Russell Brand). He’s an English rock star who would be insufferable if he weren’t so bloomin’ funny. The Hawaii gags are a kick, too.
It’s like “The Heartbreak Kid” … with heart. The latest effort from producer Judd Apatow, “Sarah Marshall” exhibits all the trademarks of his comedy franchise: brilliant, raunchy dialogue and situations, biting insights and a warm-heartedness that makes you love everyone on screen. Especially co-star Mila Kunis, who pretty much embodies the perfect woman for men and boys of any age.
It also exhibits its star’s dakine, in a towel-dropping scene that comes up in any discussion of the film. It’s star Segel’s way of showing the total vulnerability of his character, whose name happens to be Peter, and it fits right into the Apatow formula of turning truly embarrassing moments into laughter.
But it feels more like it’s giving away the punch line to the cosmic joke, known to strong women since time began, and to males from infancy, who spend the rest of their lives trying to come to terms with it:
If you unlock the little boy, dakine is the handle to lead him around with.
• Contact Rick Chatenever at email@example.com
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