(niara) from NEW YORK, NY
Reviewed on 11/11/2013...
So here's the disclaimer: I am a native New Yorker, a fan of the Beatles (who isn't?), a fan of Billy Joel and my beloved Metropolitans, otherwise known as the New York Mets.
What a treat. I remember watching the last game at Shea Stadium on tv. It was the same weekend that Paul Newman had died, and I kept thinking this was the end of an era. Seeing all those great New York Mets return to Shea one last time, left me in tears. A year or two later, I had heard about the "Last Play at Shea" but wrote it off as a concert video. Boy oh boy, was I ever wrong.
It is a concert video, but it isn't. They are able to intertwine, quite effortlessly and seamlessly, the history of Shea Stadium, how the Mets came to be, Robert Moses, who built (or destroyed, depending on your point of view) the highways that criss-cross the city, the bedraggled Mets teams over the years -- highlighting the remarkable Game 6 comeback in the 1986 World Series -- and the life and music of Billy Joel. I am three weeks from my 51st birthday, and when I was in high school, Billy Joel's music was ALL OVER THE PLACE. And with the birth of MTV, he hit paydirt in the 80s and 90s. It wasn't until years later that I began to appreciate Billy Joel for the tremendous talent that he is, singer/songwriter and Piano Man.
I learned things about New York City I did not know prior to watching the documentary. How they were able to gently fold in so much in just an hour and a half is brilliance. The songs take you back, Billy Joel playing his heart out on stage with an on-point band, and the cavernous, decrepit Shea Stadium, months away from being torn down. As Mets outfielder Darryl Strawberry said, "it was a dump, but it was our dump."
I remember the last game at Shea, and explaining to my son in that mournful weekend as we processed the loss of Paul Newman, the epic moments that happened at Shea: the tumultuous 1969 season when God blinked and the Mets won the Series, the visit by the Pope, the game played two weeks after 9/11 and the blast in the night by Piazza that saved us all, and of course, The Beatles. This documentary was able to capture it all.
And how they managed to get Sir Paul to return to Shea, to come full circle, with Pete Flynn ("get off me grass"), the Mets groundskeeper who whisked the Beatles off the field back in 1966, was nothing short of stupendous. The last scene is singed in my brain: a time-lapse of the final walls being torn down of Shea Stadium, revealing, like a curtain, the glittering jewel of Citi Field, new home of my beloved Metropolitans, all to the soaring notes of "Let it Be." I wept like a baby, truly. This documentary touched me more than I imagined it would. Thank you, Billy. LET'S GO METS.