I saw the new Rolling Stones concert film today, Shine A Light. What a pleasure it was.

They sounded great, them guys, they did. If I had been alone in the movie theater, I would’ve stood up and danced the whole time. They are my old friends, The Stones, composers of my favorite song in the world and always the antidote to the trendy, fake, and vapid in rock and roll. You can count on them.

The issue of age is a focus to the film, although shown very quietly and with charm. Director Martin Scorsese, the same age as our cinematic subjects, handles the obvious with humor, honesty, and poignancy. It is inescapable – the heavily-lined faces of Mick, Keith, Ronnie, and Charlie are what you keep noticing, thinking about on that large screen. The bittersweet passage of time needs no other statement other than when early on in the film, a cut is made to a black-and-white interview piece with Mick Jagger from around 1964. There is not a single wrinkle to his face; it is smooth and open and childlike, bright-eyed, pouty-mouthed, yet to know very much of much. The cut back to the present tells the story, no words needed. Forty-odd years of drugs, drink, cigarettes, deaths, women come and gone, children, airplanes, hotel rooms, hangers-on, great success, great loneliness. Being loved, being loathed, the pressure of being responsible for so much and so many, the cruel and sad realities of being self-serving and selfish. Treated as gods, but having to live as people at the end of the day. All written on their faces, bodies, deeper than deep. There is a terribly high cost to being a god.

I have seen all the Stones films, and I believe this one will be my favorite. It lacks utterly what tarnished others: ego, dissipation, distance. It inspires me to no end to see them, these tattered wonderful gods, absolutely loving being onstage, performing the hell out of their songs, smiling to themselves, each other, to the audience. The comfort and confidence and professionalism are there, but never dampens their obvious enthusiasm for just being together and playing. I see a gratefulness in them now, a different level of hunger and joy in them that delights me. They do not take themselves very seriously, but scrap and fight to pull out the best in themselves and each other to make a great show happen. They know, really, now how fortunate they are. There is so much love for music there, for each other, for us. The Rolling Stones get it.

Continuing with the winks at age in the film, there are very funny cuts to old interviews , where the guys are asked by every possible clown a variation of, “When do you think you will stop playing?” The Stones make it very, very clear in Shine A Light: when they fucking damn well want to stop, thankyouverymuch!

Go see.