Hell of a Show

Documentary takes a look at an infamous rock-and-roll concert

The rock-and-roll Zapruder film, more or less, highlighted by the ultimate low: the murder of Meredith Hunter, committed by Hell's Angels during a free show at the Altamont Speedway that proves everything gratis indeed comes with a hell of a price. A film within a film, David and Albert Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin's documentary blames without chastising, looks without leering; you're as much participant as witness, and given that you know how the film will turn out before it begins, it's impossible to have even the slightest bit of a good time. With Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts looking on during the after-the-fact editing process, you can't help but feel as though you're peeping at the perps in the interrogation room--especially Jagger, who flinches when Hell's Angels bossman Sonny Barger blames the "idiot" front man for the mayhem and murder that took place in idyllic San Fran as the '60s gave way to insanity on that deadliest of nights (four born, four dead--and it was hardly a push). The performances are grand (this was the Stones' last gasp, really, before nasty pride gave way to lazy self-importance), and they're not to be overlooked; but they're bumped off the soundtrack by so much guilt and grandstanding. A better title might have been The Last Waltz: A man was murdered, and a few feet away, a band, and a generation that claimed to love it, was slowly killing itself.

 
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