Because our Sunday wouldn't have been the same without at least four hours committed to work, Defamer crashed yesterday's U.S. press conference for the new Martin Scorsese/Rolling Stones concert film Shine a Light. It's not half-bad for Stones or Scorsese fans, with a rangy set list and intoxicating camerawork that both might run a little long for the average viewer. Not easily starstruck, we nevertheless felt a mild succession of twinges upon the band and their director's entrance ("Holy shit, Keith Richards really does look like that," etc.), none more acute than when a Paramount publicist, clearly by accident, let us sneak a question in.
We thought of asking Richards to nudge silent, somnambulent drummer Charlie Watts awake for a quick picture, but opted instead to inquire about Scorsese's own cameos in the beginning and end of the film — the latest contributions to an increasingly public persona we've seen him develop everywhere from TV spots to causes célèbres including the environment and film preservation. Sure, there are more famous directors, but we can't imagine Steven Spielberg ever interjecting himself as a dramatic counterpoint to, say, Indiana Jones the way Scorsese plays off Mick Jagger. We haven't seen an actual auteur ham it up like this since Alfred Hitchcock.
"We had a lot of trouble working out the ending of the film," Jagger told us. "Marty had to go to a lot of different acting coaches to do it."
"It was sad," Scorsese deadpanned. "It was sad, yeah. But I do it on my own pictures. I'm kind of [like] Edgar Kennedy — the slow burn, the guy who always used to go like this?" He slapped a palm over his face, grimaced and gradually pulled away. "That's what happens when you make films, so one of the things to do is make use of that, and literally send up the 'hapless director,' so to speak. And very often you do feel like a hapless person sitting there. The actor's doing one thing, the camera's doing another. It started to snow the other night when we were shooting. It wasn't supposed to snow. Things like that. Do we continue shooting? But that's the nature of what it is, and you have to have fun with it. There are so many documentaries and so many sections of concert films where you see the actual setting up of the concert and interviewing people, and we thought, 'Let's have fun with it.' Let's get straight to the tension — and the humor of that tension."
But does it work? You tell us; Shine a Light opens Friday.