The Rolling Stones never permitted filmmaker Robert Frank to release this 1972 chronicle of their Exile on Main Street tour, and I've seen it only as a bad video dub. Even with the best picture imaginable, it can't help but suffer in comparison to Gimme Shelter, but it's still an indelible look at a rock band on the road. Frank unflinchingly records the rough sexuality and substance abuse of the Stones' entourage (there's footage of tour personnel dragging some groupies into an orgy while Mick Jagger and Keith Richards laugh and pound out a tribal beat on percussion). Nonfans will be bored stiff, and even true believers may find the last half hour interminable, but the film's real distinction may be its willingness to be dull: like the Exile LP, it has a bleary, disoriented, 3 AM feeling. The band and crew watch TV, play cards, jam, masturbate, fuck, do drugs—anything they can think of to kill time until the next show. 90 min.
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