This unique film collage of rare clips of the Rolling Stones individually and in non-musical ensemble is a fascinating scrapbook often centering in the too oft scamped intelligence of lead man Mick Jagger, a gent whose contributions to the art form can hardly be overstated. That vast catalogue of songs and music 'twixt he and Keith Richards, as well as the philosophy and commentary, did not emanate from a sophomoric mind; rather, Rare and Unseen frequently, without a syllable of spoken narrative otherwise, shows how the dim-wittedness has been society's own, not the band's, nor Mick's. More than once, juxtaposed segments slice away years between demonstrations of just how saliently the Stones' material was ever a critique on exactly the snotty ilk of suppression that one motormouth bearbaiting woman tries foisting on Jagger during an ambush interview with him and Julien Temple, director of the Undercover of the Night, at the time a controversial video. They, in very short order, shut the blathering cow down eloquently.
For 64 compelling minutes, a number of interesting issues arise, such as what a pain in the ass it is to be famous, how the media pick and choose broadcast segments in order to cast very tedious cheerleading presentations or demonizations when there's actually a lot more to the personalities than we're allowed to see, how paparazzi are in reality ravenous zombie maws of fetishized consumption, and so on. Not a note of a Stones song nor an inch of performance footage is featured—well, except for a non-soundtracked outtake from the Stones' appearance at the TAMI Show in the 60s to close out the DVD—just an unauthorized gallery (the best kind!) of intimate and social insights into the personnas of one of the world's truly great rock bands, a window on what the blokes behind the phenomenon are like. For all the ballyhoo which has erupted over the decades, one finds oneself ever more drawn to them, especially Jagger.
There's a good deal of previously unseen footage interspersed through the documentary as well as quite a bit of material never seen on American shores unless one has been a rabid collector with friends in England and elsewhere. Through it all, Jagger shines like a beacon, mentally agile, soft-spoken, polite, a gentleman to often snide, chivying, cozening establishment helots. Personally, I've never run across this film's format before. Being a huge fan of the sort of material Eagle Vision has put out, not to mention all those independent critical overviews of sundry ensembles and LPs, I wasn't sure what to expect, so the question is: Does the unorthodox mode work?
Quite well, actually, and, frankly, I could easily have gone for a box set—say a four DVD trove a la the Stones' own Four Flicks—a cornucopia of more such footage. In fact, I'm hoping MVD branches out and covers other groups: Led Zeppelin, the Moody Blues, David Bowie, and so on in like manner. As the dimensions of the entire rock music continuum expand to embrace not only deepeningly valid critical inspections and as documentarian efforts further develop the genre as true art to a much higher degree than the all too prevalent crass manifestation of uber-commerciality, unusual compendiums like Rare and Unseen are coming to occupy a rightful place in the market.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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