Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Paul Thomas Anderson Says 'Edge Of Tomorrow' Is "F*cking Great," Also Loves 'Grand Budapest Hotel'  Paul Thomas Anderson Says 'Edge Of Tomorrow' Is "F*cking Great," Also Loves 'Grand Budapest Hotel' 10 Unaired TV Pilots By A-List Directors That We Want To See 10 Unaired TV Pilots By A-List Directors That We Want To See 'Kick-Ass' Creator Mark Millar Says A Hit-Girl Solo Movie Was Once In The Works With 'The Raid' Director Gareth Evans 'Kick-Ass' Creator Mark Millar Says A Hit-Girl Solo Movie Was Once In The Works With 'The Raid' Director Gareth Evans Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot 30 Films You Forgot Were Oscar Winners 30 Films You Forgot Were Oscar Winners Watch: Tom Hardy & Gary Oldman Face Off In The First Trailer For Thriller ‘Child 44’ Watch: Tom Hardy & Gary Oldman Face Off In The First Trailer For Thriller ‘Child 44’ The 10 Best Films Of 2005 The 10 Best Films Of 2005 Review: Documentary 'Night Will Fall' Is A Powerful Reminder Of The Horrors Of The Holocaust Review: Documentary 'Night Will Fall' Is A Powerful Reminder Of The Horrors Of The Holocaust Harvey Weinstein Explains What Happened With 'Grace Of Monaco,' Says He Was Right About 'Snowpiercer' Harvey Weinstein Explains What Happened With 'Grace Of Monaco,' Says He Was Right About 'Snowpiercer' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point

LFF Review: Rolling Stones Doc 'Crossfire Hurricane' Is Little More Than A Familiar Nostalgia Trip

The Playlist By Joe Cunningham | The Playlist October 19, 2012 at 1:43PM

There’s been the little-seen “Charlie Is My Darling” and “Cocksucker Blues,” Jean-Luc Godard’s “Sympathy for the Devil,” 1970’s Altamont-focused “Gimme Shelter,” Julien Temple’s “Stones at the Max” and Martin Scorsese’s “Shine a Light,” and that’s just scratching the surface when it comes to documentaries that have put “the world’s greatest rock and roll band,” The Rolling Stones, up on the big screen. For a band who are celebrating their 50th anniversary perhaps that’s to be expected, but it leaves "Crossfire Hurricane" (the official celebration of said anniversary) with the onerous task of having to tell a story that has been well documented many times before.
0
Crossfire Hurricane

There’s been the little-seen “Charlie Is My Darling” and “Cocksucker Blues,” Jean-Luc Godard’s “Sympathy for the Devil,” 1970’s Altamont-focused “Gimme Shelter,” Julien Temple’s “Stones at the Max” and Martin Scorsese’s “Shine a Light,” and that’s just scratching the surface when it comes to documentaries that have put “the world’s greatest rock and roll band,” The Rolling Stones, up on the big screen. For a band who are celebrating their 50th anniversary perhaps that’s to be expected, but it leaves "Crossfire Hurricane" (the official celebration of said anniversary) with the onerous task of having to tell a story that has been well documented many times before. But this isn’t a comprehensive exploration of the band’s 50 year history. In fact, it barely covers the first twenty years – the years when the band was still a band rather than a business. And as for comprehensive, well it’s not really that either. It’s a surface-level whistle-stop tour through the defining moments of the band’s early history, with director Brett Morgan ("The Kid Stays in the Picture") exploring the idea of what it must have been like to be a Rolling Stone in those early years.

Crossfire Hurricane

He does so by putting together an array of archive footage (most of which seems to have been sourced from those other aforementioned Stones documentaries) with the fresh twist of the present-day band members (and former band members) speaking in voiceover about what they can remember of those events. As you’d expect from the kind of lifestyle they’ve led, their memories are hazy at best, and also they’re the memories of men who also happen to be producers/executive producers who are constructing the kind of image of the band that they want to create.

Still, that doesn’t mean "Crossfire Hurriance" is a wholly dull affair, and it’s not as if anyone holds back. It’s just that this is the story that they want to tell. That the story cuts off before the band’s fallow period full of infighting and inferior records is testament to that. But that doesn’t make the stories they do have to tell any less fascinating, we are talking about The Rolling Stones after all. There are fascinating exchanges about the way the band were positioned as the Anti-Beatles, and the way that the band themselves and the media played their part in solidifying that image. Keith Richards raises a smile when he speaks of the aftermath of his and Mick Jagger’s first drugs arrest as the turning point in the band really embodying that image: “That’s when you really put the black hat on…before it was just off-gray.”

Crossfire Hurricane

Of course their ill-fated Altamont concert at the end of their “hedonistic binge around America” remains a harrowing and evocative event to revisit, as does the exit from the band and subsequent death of guitarist Brian Jones. It’s a shame that less time can’t be spent reflecting on those events, especially with the amount of screen time devoted to the sex and drugs and rock and roll, but that doesn’t diminish the emotional weight they carry. When Jagger’s struggling to remember how many months after they asked Jones to leave the band it was that Jones was found dead, someone interrupts to tell him, “It was two weeks Mick.” “Fuck,” Jagger responds, and you can tell it still hurts.

So yes, "Crossfire Hurricane" isn’t a complete write-off, and it’s probably a great introduction for newcomers unfamiliar with the history of the band. Who are those people though? Is there really a generation who don’t know much about The Rolling Stones but are also eager to get into a band who their parents liked when they were young? No, the film’s target audience is going to be long-time fans looking for a nostalgia trip, and they’ll get little more than a reminder of what they’ve seen before.

One can’t help but suspect this documentary is yet another cog in the band’s money-making machine, little more than an extended trailer for the upcoming tour and yet another greatest hits album. If you really have to celebrate a 50th anniversary of a British institution on the big screen in 2012, choose James Bond instead – he still has something to offer. [C-]

This article is related to: The Rolling Stones, Crossfire Hurricane, Review, Documentary, BFI London Film Festival


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates