The best and worst thing I can say about Martin Scorsese's Rolling Stones concert film, Shine a Light, is that it perfectly sums up what the Stones have become.
There's no question: The Rolling Stones were, at one point, the best band that ever lived, brilliant and powerful and unfuckwithable. They also haven't been that band for 30 years.
The cheesily directed Shine a Light captures a 2006 show by the now zombie-like Stones at New York's Beacon Theater, and it's exactly what you'd expect: Mick Jagger howls and pouts; Keith Richards dodders; and Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood fade into the background while Jack White, Buddy Guy, and Christina Aguilera are trotted out for guest appearances. (Of these, the only noteworthy one is White's—endearingly, the dude just can't contain his glee at sharing a mic with Jagger.) It's a good show, I guess, in that the Stones do a fine job playing some of their best songs, but it's also terrible, in that you catch brief, exhilarating reminders that the Stones used to be the coolest motherfuckers on the planet. Those glimmers serve the unintended purpose, though, of heartbreakingly reminding you who the Stones are now. (I mean, how badass can a band really be when Bill Clinton's the opening act, and Hillary—and her mom!—are in the crowd bouncing along to "Brown Sugar"?)
Ironically, the more interesting stuff is the archival footage Scorsese stingily inserts throughout: Watching the young Stones stammer their way through interviews at the start of their careers is far cooler than watching Jagger lurch around onstage like a possessed skeleton, one more time. "We're both pretty lousy," Richards says in one clip, when an interviewer asks whether Richards or Wood is the better guitarist. "But together, we're better than 10 others." Amen to that, and here's hoping Scorsese has another Stones film in him—one that focuses on what made the band great, rather than on what they are now.