Scorsese's Moonlighting Gig

As the acclaimed director takes on the Rolling Stones, Richard Corliss appraises his career in documentaries

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Brigitte Lacombe / Paramount Pictures

The moviemaker and his stars: Watts, Richards, Jagger and Wood.

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Scorsese, who was born the year before Jagger and Richards and a year after Watts, made his first short film in 1963, when the Stones released their debut single. And he knows them well enough to see them clearly. The camera reveals that age has been hard on the group's faces--they all look like Dorian Gray's pictures--but kind to their bodies. The guys are pencil-slim, especially Mick. Watching in awe as he capers indefatigably, shaking his sexagenarian booty, you want the secret of the Mick Jagger Fitness Regimen, even if you suspect it's 45 years of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. When Christina Aguilera slinks onstage for a duet of Live with Me, he can't match her volume but aces her on charisma. The only guest who blows Jagger off the stage is bluesman Buddy Guy. When the concert was held, he had just turned 70.

For the director, the point of his remorseless close-ups of Jagger & Co. isn't exposé but celebration. Shine a Light is a tribute to the glamour of survival. That's something Scorsese knows in his bones. In nearly 40 years of documentaries, he has looked outward--by studying Jagger or Dylan or Armani or his own family--and found insights into himself. And when he shares them with the world, it's more than nonfiction art. That's docutainment.

What happened before The Golden Compass Books, page 76

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