Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 11, 2017)
Subtitled “A Trip Across Latin America”, Ole Ole Ole! offers a glimpse of the Rolling Stones circa 2016. In the spring of that year, the band played 15 shows in eight countries, all of which culminated with a major free concert in Cuba.
In addition to Stones Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ron Wood, we get comments from production designer Dale “Opie” Skjerseth, Cuban show producer Adam Wilkes, Keith Richards’ manager Jane Rose, Rolling Stones’ manager Joyce Smyth, tour director Paul Gongaware, tour logistics director Frankie Enfield, and creative director Patrick Woodroffe.
Ole gives us a brief glimpse of rehearsals before we follow the band on the road. The Stones start in Chile and proceed to Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Peru and Columbia before the big finale in Cuba.
In addition to our time with the Stones as they progress, we follow the preparation for the Cuban concert. We see all the groundwork needed to go into play and the obstacles faced along the way.
Some of which we already know from Havana Moon, a program that focuses solely on the Cuban show. That Blu-ray largely depicted the concert itself, but it also offered some documentary material about the Cuban trip.
Ole offers much more of a true documentary, though some concert pieces appear as well. We hear “Start Me Up”, “Out of Control”, “Paint It Black”, “Honky Tonk Women”, “Sympathy for the Devil”, “Midnight Rambler”, “Street Fighting Man”, “Wild Horses”, “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Satisfaction”. Unfortunately, other than “Satisfaction”, none of these give us full performances, so we just get snippets.
As a documentary, Ole lacks a lot of consistency, which means it comes across as a travelogue more than a coherent look at the band and/or the tour. Sure, the work done ahead of the Havana concert offers something of an “arc”, but it doesn’t dominate the program, so we mostly just get nearly random bits ‘n’ pieces.
How well these work probably depends on how much you like the Stones – and even for diehards, Ole seems spotty. I’ve been a pretty big Stones fan for more than 35 years – including more than 50 concerts since 1989 – so I guess I fall into the “diehard” category, and I do find some fun moments here.
Most of these stem from moments with the band. I like the too-short view of rehearsals, and the acoustic performance of “Honky Tonk Women” from Mick and Keith offers a rare glimpse of their lifelong bond. We often get the sense Mick and Keith don’t much care for each other at this point in their lives, so moments of apparent warmth between them are nice to see.
A lot of Ole revolves around the fans in the various countries, and those scenes vary in quality. Many seem fairly pedestrian, as they offer little more than the usual praise for the band, but a few stand out as interesting.
In particular, a look at the “Rolingas” – an Argentinean culture built around the Stones – works well, especially when two musicians/fans get a private chat with Mick. Jagger seems to enjoy the meeting and he opens up a little more than one might expect in this too-brief snippet.
The hodgepodge nature of Ole does become a problem, mainly because the movie tries to pack in so much, and without a lot of rhyme/reason much of the time. For every intriguing moment like the meeting between Mick and the fans, we get generic ruminations about life on the road or some such.
All of this adds up to a spotty documentary. As a long-time Stones fan, I can find more than a few moments to like from it, but the whole package doesn’t hold together as well as I’d prefer.