Newest Reviews:

New Movies -  

The Tunnel


The Tall Man

Mama Africa





Brownian Movement

Last Ride

[Rec]³: Genesis

Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai

Indie Game: The Movie

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Old Movies -

Touki Bouki: The Journey of the Hyena

Drums Along the Mohawk

The Chase

The Heiress

Show People

The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry



Miracle Mile

The Great Flamarion

Dark Habits

Archives -

Recap: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 , 2005, 2006, 2007 , 2008 , 2009 , 2010 , 2011 , 2012

All reviews alphabetically

All reviews by star rating

All reviews by release year


Screening Log



E-mail me




Gimme Shelter (David and Albert Maysles) 1970 

    David and Albert Maysles Gimme Shelter is absolutely stunning as a historical document. The film, which chronicles the last few months of a 1969 Rolling Stones tour, has the good fortune of being at the right place at the right time, since it manages to capture on film the infamous stabbing at their Altamont concert. The image, which is replayed and shown frame by frozen frame as if it is the Zapruder film, is startling. Considering the incident’s political significance (it was seen as the final nail in the coffin for the 60’s revolution), its existence is absolutely invaluable. What is irksome and a little sleazy is a shot near the film’s very end that shows one of the Maysles brothers as he shows the footage that he captured to Mick Jagger. The expression on his face is filled with a smug sort of satisfaction that suggests he is entirely proud to have captured the image (which he should be), and there’s little suggestion that he’s thought much about the “victim”, except in terms of how he can exploit his death. It’s arguably a more disturbing image than the actual stabbing, and it certainly casts the Maysles’ work into a different perspective. Is their Grey Gardens, which takes us inside the homes of two psudeo-Kennedys, exploiting the obviously mentally ill people that it shows? Does their Salesman expect us to laugh at the concerns of its downtrodden subjects? What becomes through the Maysles’ oeuvre is that the documentary filmmaker is just as much a manipulator as the fictional one, since their editing process can literally remove any dissenting viewpoints, troublesome ambiguity, or even any physical trace of themselves. 

    The stabbing only takes place in the last fifteen minutes of the film, so it might seem a bit histrionic to blow its significance out of proportion. The problem is that the Maysles the concert at Altamont Speedway as a climax to the film. The film’s first half has a carefree zest that stands in stark contrast to the second half’s sense of impending doom. It all feels a little cheap, frankly. It’s interesting that the film sets up the Rolling Stones as the “good guys” too. They seem completely dedicated to their work, and are probably the sanest people that ever show their face in this movie. Though the film is eminently watchable, you leave the theater with a sense of sickness instead of the sense of unbridled joy that the music of the Stones creates early on. So while I absolutely recognize the historical significance of Gimme Shelter, and would recommend it without hesitation, I can’t say I really enjoyed it in light of its content. Frankly, I left it feeling used. 

***1/2 (perfectly arbitrary here) 

Jeremy Heilman