Every time we think the weekend box office can’t surprise us, something comes along to make us say … really? Last weekend, the surprise prize went to 21, the blackjack movie we know, logically, we can’t truly judge without seeing, but yet we still feel like we kind of can. Doesn’t the preview tell us all we need to know? Kevin Spacey is doing Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth pouts prettily, and that cute guy from Across the Universe picks up where Edward Norton left off in Rounders. Meanwhile, like the other, less interesting Iraq movies that came before it, Stop-Loss was kinda ignored (and did less business than Superhero Movie). Hey, let’s all pretend the war isn’t happening together!
THIS WEEKEND WILL bring what feels like an unbeatable combination: Martin Scorsese and the Rolling Stones in Shine a Light. Mr. Scorsese has made great use of Stones music throughout his career, and here he pays back the ultimate fan favor with this lush and shockingly engrossing concert movie, which took place in 2006 at the Beacon Theater as part of Bill Clinton’s 60th birthday celebration. We’ll be perfectly honest: while we’ve always enjoyed the Rolling Stones, we were never what one might consider a superfan. And as for Mick Jagger, our first memory of being aware of him coincides with the unfortunate 1985 video for “Dancing In The Streets” with David Bowie (yeouch!). So while we recognized that Mr. Jagger and the gang were once considered supercrazy sex gods back in the day, we thought of him as the older, big-lipped guy in the blousy green shirt and tight-belted trousers. However, about halfway through the second song performed in Shine a Light, when Mr. Jagger—in his mid 60s—strutted like an alley cat across the stage, swiveled his hips and raised his hands above his head (revealing an impressively taut torso) everything changed. We were fantasizing about sex with Mick Jagger. Good gravy, what sort of black magic does this man possess? But perhaps this is both a credit to the man himself—who expends a charismatic energy onstage that should make Justin Timberlake weep—and to Mr. Scorsese, who managed to bottle it, and do the impossible: translate the thrill and exhilaration of a live performance to a movie screen. The film allows the band to do what it does best—perform. Particularly fascinating, too, is the black-and-white archival footage Mr. Scorsese weaves in of the baby-face gents wearily trying to adjust to fame. And in case anyone was wondering, Keith Richards is freakin’ hilarious (we finally understand Johnny Depp’s homage to him in Pirates of the Caribbean), and we could watch him smoke, cough, sing and woozily grin all day.
Shine a Light opens Friday at the Clearview Ziegfeld theater.
SPEAKING OF IRRESISTIBLE, we have to raise the white flag on George Clooney, too. He’s so—yes!—charming and likable we want not to fall prey to his silver fox allure! Same goes with Leatherheads, a movie that would have been a hard sell if anyone besides Mr. Wonderful was behind the camera and onscreen. The movie takes place in 1925, when professional football was becoming a legitimate sport. Mr. Clooney has given his film luscious 20’s costuming and music—in fact, a golden hue of nostalgia hangs over this picture, which pays homage to screwball romances, Frank Capra-esque storytelling and period sports flicks. Renée Zellweger is charged with playing super-sassy Chicago Tribune reporter Lexie Littleton, and the actress looks fab in pencil skirts and little hats and red lipstick. Ms. Zellweger manages to get around the rat-a-tat dialogue competently enough, but it’s Mr. Clooney who seems the most at ease. If ever a man was made to drink scotch in a speakeasy, sport a newsboy cap and toss off clever quips, it’s The Clooney. The movie suffers from a lack of identity (Is it a wink-wink old-fashioned romance? A nod to The Natural? A comment on the greed and capitalism that are regular parts of professional sports?), and misses the elegance of Mr. Clooney’s previous directorial work, Good Night, and Good Luck. It’s also about 25 minutes too long. That said, it’s possible to relax into the pleasures of art direction, score, and watching a real movie star at work.
Leatherheads opens Friday at the Regal E-Walk and Battery Park Theaters.