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The Rolling Stones fled England in 1971 over hefty taxes owed the Crown. Resettling at Nellcôte, Keith Richards’ immodest villa in Villefranche-sur-Mer, they caroused, complained about money, and made Exile on Main Street, a rock ’n’ roll record that’s as close to a consensus classic as any. There is much cherished mythology surrounding the Stones on the French Riviera—it’s a part of the canon, like the Dead on Haight Street or the Clash in Jamaica. Sad, then, that Stones in Exile, a much-hyped document of this period, was produced by the Stones themselves as a companion piece to the recently released, outtake-expanded Exile reissue. Here’s what we could’ve gotten: beautifully packaged archival footage from the basement of Nellcôte—Keith arguing, Keith falling asleep midsong, Keith working out the riff to “All Down the Line” while Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman roll joints in the corner—spliced together with (a) live footage from the tour that followed (their best performances in America, bar none) and (b) contemporary interviews with the Stones and their various dependents. Here’s what we actually get: distended audio from the basement, indifferently dubbed over unrelated photographs; a barrage of newspaper clippings designed to make you pity the Stones for their financial woes; and, greatest crime of all, several clips of the Stones on tour in ’72 without the live audio. Can we blame the Stones for engaging in some harmless propaganda? Whatever—they’ve put in the time, let ’em have their home movies. But the only reason to sit through a 60-plus-minute commercial for a band that doesn’t need one is if it climaxes onstage. Here it doesn’t, and you’re left with a lot of blurbology to the effect that the Stones were rock stars. And Mick Jagger of all people should know that if you have to tell us, you’ve already lost.
At 11:59 p.m. at AFI Silver Theater 2.