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Rolling Stones – Ole Ole Ole (A Music Video Review)

Updated: Mar 19, 2020

Rolling Stones – Ole Ole Ole! A Trip Across Latin America


Featuring Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ron Wood, Darryl Jones, Chuck Leavett, Kari Denison, Tim Ries, Matt Clifford, Bernard Fowler and Sasha Allen.

Directed by Paul Dugdale.

Distributed by Eagle Rock Entertainment. 105 minutes. Not Rated.

The new Rolling Stones documentary opens on an interesting moment of culture shock.

The film opens in the middle of a South American ghetto. A young Hispanic man walks into his downtrodden council flat building. He stops briefly in his tiny apartment and grabs a vinyl record from his collection. Then he continues up to the roof, where he has built a small man cave made up of a folding chair, a table, a guitar and an old record player. He slides the record onto the player, sits back and allows the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy to the Devil” to wash over him. The studio recording of the song slowly merges with a live version being performed by the band across town at a local venue. Ecstatic fans watch as the band bow and leave the stage.

You don’t normally connect the Glimmer Twins with poverty-stricken South America – in fact, the last time I can remember them inhabiting that world was in the cheesy 1983 banana republic revolution video for “Undercover of the Night.” You also don’t necessarily picture young millennials in Latin America rocking out to a bunch of guys who are easily old enough to be their grandparents. And yet, with this very short intro, the connections are made, which makes sense for this documentary, which is subtitled “A Trip Across Latin America.”

Honestly, Olé Olé Olé! is more about the people and the places than it is about the Rolling Stones. Sure, all the guys get interviewed and they show partial performances of several songs during their 2016 Latin American tour. However, mostly this film is about how the different cities react to having the band in town. It is also a travelogue in which the guys hang out with the locals and get to reminisce about visiting the countries on previous tours. They good-naturedly tell stories about experiencing the areas years ago as relative unknowns with old girlfriends – although in this case the old girlfriends were Marianne Faithfull and Anita Pallenberg. (The guys are polite enough to only refer to them by their first names, though.)

The film shows how the Stones were outlawed by most of these countries’ hardcore regimes during the band’s glory days in the sixties and seventies, not making it to these areas until the mid-eighties or the nineties. Perhaps because of this delay, or because of the romance of formerly being “banned,” the fans of the Stones in Latin America seem to be particularly obsessive about the group, in a period of their career where some other areas of the world may have moved on a bit.

The people are passionate about the band – they even inspired an Argentine social clique called Rolingas which is dedicated to the celebration of the group and their music – and the members of the band seem just as passionate about the people and places of Latin America. The film shows the guys visiting native parties, bodegas, studios and pool halls like they are just normal people.

Of course, they aren’t just normal people, as Keith Richard points out when he lightheartedly does an Evita on his hotel patio; stepping out and basking in the love of the large crowd gathered outside his hotel waiting for a view of the star. Most of their hotel suites are large enough to house dozens of people in these poverty-stricken areas. They travel through these areas with a posse and a camera crew.

The main thrust and conflict of Olé Olé Olé! has the band and their management trying to set up a free bonus concert in Havana, Cuba, which would be the first rock concert on the island since the Castro regime took over and sanctions were placed on the country. The problem is, due to bureaucracy, the newness of the situation and just bad luck, for a large part of the tour, the band and their handlers never know for sure if this huge show is even going to happen. The original date that they had planned had to be changed when US President Barack Obama decided to make a historic diplomatic visit to Cuba on the same day. (Mick Jagger jokes on camera that no US president had been to Cuba in 80 years, but they had to pick the one day that the band wanted to play there.) However, the show was rescheduled five days later and went off mostly without a hitch.

Surprisingly, little of the concert footage in Olé Olé Olé! comes from this historic show, only two songs. I’m not sure if it is because of the labyrinthine contract negotiations with the Cuban government or just because the band preferred their performances at other shows. Also, director Paul Dugdale is apparently working on another documentary on the band called Havana Moon, so perhaps that Havana footage was being saved for that project.

One slight technical complaint about the Blu-Ray release – many of the interviews are done with locals in their native Spanish or Portuguese. Yet, the film does not have subtitles to translate what the people are saying on the regular play mode. The only way to know what is being said (unless you can speak those languages) is if you watch the entire film in English closed-caption mode. All dialogue in the entire film is printed underneath, which may be a bit of overkill, but at least in that way the foreign language parts are translated for English viewers.

Still, it was kind of nice of The Rolling Stones – a band which has put out a multitude of concert films over the years – that they allowed the people, places, sights and sounds of Latin America to be the real stars of Olé Olé Olé! By playing supporting roles in their own story, we can see another side of the Stones, a band that we thought we had already figured out. The affair goes both ways with the Stones and Latin America, and this movie shows it is a legitimate love.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2017 All rights reserved. Posted: May 26, 2017.

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