Sunday, April 6, 2008

Your Non-Legal Movie Review

Sorry about the lack of recent content, faithful readers. The end of the term is coming -- always a busy time.

Last night, my girlfriend and I saw Shine a Light, currently playing at DC's last remaining big-screen movie theater, the Uptown. It was sadly misbooked -- the company (which owns pretty much every screen in town) miscalculated and put the film in their big theater, which must have a capacity of 500 or so, but there couldn't have been more than 50 in the audience.

The movie is a concert film -- it's Martin Scorsese's filming of a concert given by the Rolling Stones in New York City in 2006. After a brief intro in which Scorsese gives you some sense of the frenetic preparation work for the concert and the difficulties of filming it, most of the movie is just a film of the concert, with a few clips of earlier Stones interviews spliced in.

All I can say is this: it was terrific. Mick Jagger was sixty-three when he gave this concert, but he filled the entire theater with his energy and intensity. He's up there singing, dancing, strutting, and shaking his ass better than most thirty-year-old performers. His face is craggy and saggy but his body looks great and his stage presence is undimmed -- particularly amazing was how he brought the same vitality to the last number as to the first, after a couple of hours of work that would have tested a professional athlete.

I hope I have that much energy when I'm his age. I'd settle for half as much. One only has to recall Britney Spears sleepwalking through her number at the MTV awards to realize that there's no guarantee that even the best performers will do a good job on any given night. It takes real dedication. Jagger feigns coolness and unconcern, but you can see that he's determined to give the audience its money's worth -- he's putting it out there for us and he won't be satisfied with anything less than his best.

That's what I try to give to my students. I don't always feel up for the game -- professors have much other work to do, of which students are sadly unwaware, not to mention personal lives that could be going well or badly -- but the students have paid big bucks to be there. If you run the numbers the tuition alone amounts to about $100 per class hour, so in my big class the students have collectively paid over $11,000 for me to step into the classroom each day. They're entitled to their money's worth, and I try to give them an appropriate amount of energy and intensity. I'm no Mick Jagger, but I do my best.

Anyway, whatever Mick Jagger is on, I want some. Well, perhaps not -- it's probably something illegal. But boy, he's still got it, and it's an inspiration knowing that you can still be going that strong after sixty.

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