Sunday, December 30, 2012

Crossfire Hurricane

Directed by Brett Morgan, Crossfire Hurricane is a documentary about the Rolling Stones’ rise to success and acceptance through their lawless persona in the 1960s and 1970s. Featuring audio interviews with members of the band along with former members Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor, the film explores many of the band’s period from the 1960s to the early 1980s through archival footage as well as footage from the other documentaries made by the band. The result is a very entertaining and engaging documentary about one of the greatest rock n’ roll bands of all-time.

Most documentaries about musicians often has a narrative that is typical with most documentaries. Either the whole story is told or they skim on some parts of the story in order to present something basic. With the Rolling Stones, their story is anything but basic since they never were the band that played by the rules during their hey-day. While subjects like the band’s drug use, Brian Jones’ death in 1969, the disastrous concert in Altamont, and Keith Richards’ notorious drug busts are talked about. What make it different in this film is that it’s told from the band themselves through audio interviews as they’re not seen. Through their recollections, the Stones along with former members Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor talk about the band’s wild period and their rebellious persona from the early 1960s to the early 1980s where the band was becoming the hottest touring act ever.

While the documentary doesn’t talk about what happened to Stones in the 1980s and beyond except through concert footage along with a clip from Martin Scorsese’s Shine a Light to end the film. It’s a film that is more about how the Stones went from being infamous, reviled, and enemies of the establishment to becoming loved by many all over the world as legions of people go to their shows and by their album just as they were getting their act together. Through archival footage from many of the band’s TV appearances, rare footage, and clips from some of the documentaries the band made like Gimme Shelter, Let’s Spend the Night Together, Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones, Sympathy for the Devil, The Rolling Stones Rock N’ Roll Circus, and the bootlegged Cocksucker Blues. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood, Bill Wyman, and Mick Taylor all tell stories about these events and their exploits.

While the stories that the Stones reveal doesn’t feature anything new that hasn’t been heard from past documentaries and books about the band. What does make it interesting is the fact it’s told by the band themselves through their recollections though the band admit they don’t remember everything they went through. A lot of the commentary is made by Jagger and Richards since they’re the most well-known individuals in the band where Jagger revels about the onstage personas he created during those years while Richards reveals a lot of detail into his drug abuse at the time. The band also dwell on Brian Jones’ decline and his death in 1969 where they admit to having some regret about not having to do more for him during those times. Jones’ replacement Mick Taylor revealed how he got into the band while he also reveals, though in an admitted cagey response, into why he left the band in 1974 that led to Ronnie Wood becoming his replacement.

Through the wonderful editing of Stuart Levy and Conor O’Neill and the intricate sound design of Cameron Frankley and Jason W. Jennings. The film is given a unique look where some concert footage is inter-cut with some wilder moments while the music that is used does help tell the story. Brett Morgan’s direction is unique for the way he uses footage and music to help move the narrative as the film begins with a performance from the band in 1972 and then goes back in time to their early concerts when they were just doing covers.

While it may not offer anything new to fans of the Rolling Stones, Crossfire Hurricane is still a remarkable documentary from Brett Morgan. Particularly as it gives the band and its former members the chance to talk about themselves through archival footage as well as some rare material. It’s a film that is a nice introduction to the band though 25x5 is really the most comprehensive film about the band even though it only talks about their first 25 years. With the band now having reached 50 years, it is still amazing that they’re still around and showing younger acts how it’s done. In the end, Crossfire Hurricane is a superb documentary about the Rolling Stones.

© thevoid99 2012

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