Martin Scorsese has used "Gimme Shelter" so many times in his movies that the song has become shorthand for him. You almost expected his Kundun monks to rock out on it, or for Newland Archer to play it on the harpsichord Daniel Day-Lewis spent six months learning how to use. If Scorsese's new film doesn't include it, it'll be him playing coy with our expectations. Shine a Light, Scorsese's latest musical documentary (after No Direction Home, his Dylan miniseries and The Last Waltz, his take on the Band), is a Rolling Stones concert film. Here's hoping that they don't project this in IMAX, as their prior IMAX concert film, 1991's At the Max, was terrifying. One should never be able to see that much detail on Keith Richards. He looked like an 8-story high Shar-Pei with a cigarette, and that was 17 years ago.
The Independent quotes Scorsese as asking "What can you do that's new backstage, that wasn't already shown in Gimme Shelter or Cocksucker Blues? The only thing left is the music, ultimately." This means no stabbing, no orgies, no trashed hotel rooms, and no drugs. It sounds like The Stones are opening for Hannah Montana.
At 64, you'd think Mick Jagger was old enough to handle an R-rated movie. He's made quite a few, like 1970's Performance, and even appeared in the NC-17 rated Bent. Look at that documentary title in Scorsese's quote, for Cripe's sake! Jagger can handle the R rating, but according to Shine a Light's distributors, Paramount (Disad)Vantage, we can't. At the MPAA's site and the imdb, the MPAA listing on the film reads: "Rated PG-13 for brief strong language, drug references and smoking. (edited for re-rating; originally rated R for some language)." Does this mean that there were no drug references and -- GASP! -- no smoking in the R-rated cut? They took out the cuss words, and put in Joe Camel! The bigger question is: Why would they edit the film down to a PG-13 anyway? How many 12-year-olds you know are clamoring to see men older than their great-grandparents sing about what a drag it is getting old?
The late Hal Ashby got a PG rating for his concert take on the Stones, Let's Spend the Night Together, but that was before they were being censored on the Super Bowl. I'm a little disappointed that the man who won an Oscar for turning human heads inside out consented to cutting a few cuss words out of his movie to get a lower rating. And who the hell cares about smoking in a rating? I'm surprised it's not NC-17 for cigarettes; Keith Richards is a damn human chimney.