Criterion Year Week 15: Gimme Shelter

The Criterion Collection, the last vestige of truly collectible DVD and Blu-Ray movies in existence. These are well produced, fancy pants editions of important and interesting films for the discerning film lover.

We continue our journey through Jim's collection of movies with...

Week 15:

Gimme Shelter

Spine Number: 99

Director: Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin

Genre: Documentary

It can be argued, quite reasonably, that the documentary is the oldest form of film making in existence. The first films ever made were simply documenting things that happened every day. Be it a train pulling into a station or women leaving their jobs at a factory film began by simply recording things that happened. The early Thomas Edison films were largely recreations of things that regular people wouldn't have had a chance to see in person. From Annie Oakley to Jim Corbett, people would go and simply do what they were known for and a larger segment of the public would be able to see it.

Over the years, this genre has been corrupted and perverted. Simply presenting something as it occurred was no longer sufficient, people began using the format to prove a point or propagate an idea. The simple act of showing something wasn't enough. People had to manipulate the events to support a thesis or to sensationalize the events so they would reach a wider audience. The framing and presentation of "reality" became another tool for persuasion.

However, there were some people who had an ethical commitment to keeping this form of film making pure. Few people were as dedicated to this idea than the Maysles brothers. They were dedicated to the idea of simple observation and presenting what they observed. Their films "Grey Gardens" and "Salesman" in many ways set the standard for American documentary film making. 

But it was their film "Gimme Shelter," detailing the Rolling Stones disastrous free concert at the Altamont Motor Speedway that went above and beyond what the genre had done in the past.


In addition to documenting the complete lack of planning that went into the show, it highlighted the total lack of organization at the grounds, and ultimately kept a man from going to jail for murder.

This film gives a fly on the wall look at one of the most important cultural moments in American history, the moment where, as many would say, the '60's died.
It's simple, sparse, direct, and to the point. This is documentary film making at its purest.


Jim will be out of town next week for a wedding, but we are not leaving you with nothing. Beginning on Thursday the 5th we will be presenting another week with The Life Masters, so get ready for some life coaching, because you are gonna get it.

In two weeks:

Spine Number 108: The Rock by Michael Bay (yes, that "The Rock.")

Also, check this out.
Looks like Summer Movie League has officially become Fantasy Movie League.
It looks quite fun. Here's how it works.
You have an 8 screen theater.
Every week you pick movies and have a budget/salary cap you have to stay under.
Then you compete against other theaters in your league.
It's fantasy football for movie people.

Our league is Film Thugs 2015 and the password is Porterhouse.

And remember, you can be a part of the show any time you wild like. How's that? All you have to do is call or e-mail us. If you live in the US, or any place that makes calling the US easy, just dial 512-666-RANT and leave us a voicemail. We will read the Google Voice transcript and play your message. It's both funny AND informative.

If you live outside the US you can call us on Skype at The_Film_Thugs. You can leave a message, or someone might actually answer.

E-mail us at and we will read/play whatever you send us, or you can e-mail to be part of  an upcoming "Ask the Film Thugs" show, where we answer questions on any subject without having heard them first.

Also, we are on twitter @thefilmthugs and on Facebook and Vine.

You can also click on one of our sponsor links below and THEY will pay us. That's right. You won't have to pay a PENNY extra, and Amazon/Onnit/Teefury will give us a little taste.

Also, be sure to check back often for our new endeavor The Life Masters, where we answer questions to other advice columnists.

Thanks for listening, and until next week...

Jim out.

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