The life of Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones was as wild as it was short, filled with gorgeous groupies, unimaginable decadence, and groundbreaking music. By age 26, he had achieved enormous fame and fortune; a year late... more »r he would be dead. The story of rock?s forgotten father, Stoned unravels the mystery surrounding his death while re-living the sex, drugs, and rock and roll that made the sixties swing.« less
Doug Anderson | Miami Beach, Florida United States | 07/13/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While I can understand the arguments against this film I personally thought it was really interesting. If you accept that this is not going to be a story about the Rolling Stones career and that it is only going to be a story about the final months of Brian Jones' life then you will not put yourself in a position to be disappointed.
Brian Jones was the founding member of the Stones and the one who turned the other guys on to the blues. He was also the acting manager of the band in the early days. However, he was also the first one to get into drugs and while the band spent the majority of its time either on the road touring or in the studio recording Brian spent an increasing amount of time in his stately mansion living like one of the landed gentry, albeit one of the stoned-out-of-his-gourd landed gentry. It was his drug problem that prohibited his touring the US with the rest of the band and it was his drug problem that prohibited his contribution to any album after 1967. The other guys occasionally came around to Brian's country estate to check in and see if he had cleaned up but they always found that he hadn't, so, finally, in 1969 Mick and Keith fired him from the band. Jones could hardly have been surprised. To make matters worse Jones girlfriend, Anita Pallenberg, left him for Keith c. 1968.
What the film tries to do is give us some idea of what made Brain Jones tick. He was a restless spirit who looked like an angel but who enjoyed experimenting with the dark side. It was the free-and-experimental-spirited model/actress Anita Pallenberg who turned him on to drugs and many of the films most fascinating sequences are drug-induced fantasy sequences that involve S$M (apparently the sex of choice for rock 'n rollers)and lots of dress up and role playing. Jones loved fashion and shopping and he was always known as something of a fashion icon. However much he loved the blues he also loved North African Jajouka music (which made its way on to a couple c. 1967 Stones albums)and he also loved North Africa. But Brian also had problems. While the other Stones seemed to be able to handle recreational drugs Brian could not. Brian was always trying to test boundaries and accrding to the film it was Brian who insisted that Anita and Keith (who he could tell were attracted to each other) get together. After they had been together Brian beat Anita up and from then on out it was Keith and Anita instead of Brian and Anita.
Though a few flashbacks take place when the band was just starting out (and Brian was a fully functioning member of the group) and a few scenes take place in North Africa, the majority of this film takes place inside and on the grounds of Brian's mansion. And most of the time Brian is stoned and just hanging out with his new Swedish girlfriend.
The guy who would in 1993 confess to the killing of Brian Jones was hired by a trusted Stones employee to look after Brian. This guy was officially hired as a contractor to do some work on Brian's property but his unofficial duty was to keep drugs away from Brian; he was, in short, what we would today call a personal assistant. The relationship that developed between the two was a kind of friendship but a friendship in which Brian was the master and the assistant the servant. This part of the story is highly speculative because many of the episodes that took place between Brian and his hired assistant were not witnessed by anyone (with the possible exception of Brian's girlfriend who was in and out of Brians life at this time). Apparently, or at least according to this movie, the hired assistant was unsuccessful at keeping Brian clean. In fact the film alleges that Brian lured this guy into a life of drug use. But, as the episode with Anita showed, Brian could be abusive. And apparently, this film argues, he was abusive to his assistant who one night decided to retaliate.
If you've ever seen Nicolas Roeg's film PERFORMANCE then you probably have some idea how a Rolling Stone lived during this era. This film is not as artsy or as mysterious or as good as PERFORMANCE, rather this film has a kind of quirky attitude and spirirt that makes it feel less like a 1960's avant-garde film (which would have been more appropriate) and more like a contemporary independent film which is in fact what it is. Brian Jones' life and death only make sense if you place it in the context of the time. The filmamkers try to do that but I don't think we ever really believe that this actor has captured Brian Jones as he was and so the legend remains intact. Still the film does some things well. The actress who plays Anita Pallenberg is brilliant. And the film shows what kinds of things Brian spent his time doing in those last months. It also sheds some light (perhaps mainly based on speculation)on to the strange circumstances that led to his death.
I don't think anyone would call this the defintive Brian Jones story, but it has its moments.
The music is a real disappointment. Not much in the way of Stones music here. Instead, probably due to copy right infringements, producers use random 60's tunes instead of Jones/Stones music. So instead of hearing "2,000 Light Years From Home" during the drug sequences we hear "White Rabbit."
Not a masterpiece. But worth a look for Brian Jones and Stones fans who know what they are getting when they rent or buy this film. PERFORMANCE is a film you will watch over and over again. STONED is a film you will probably only watch once. You can't really play a Stone. These guys were some of the most charismatic individuals of their time and no one can capture that kind of magnetism with acting. So just keep in mind that allowances must be made and you will be in a position to enjoy this."
Portrait of a decline
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 09/10/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Sex, drugs and rock'n'roll, and the downward spiral all three can inspire.
Brian Jones was the ultimate rock tragedy, dying young, rich and ruined by his own success and the loss of his lover. But the late Rolling Stones founder deserved a better biopic than "Stoned," which focuses on every part of Jones' life that is NOT interesting or insightful.
The movie opens with two flashbacks -- Jones being confronted about a girl he got pregnant, and an early Stones show. Then it flips ahead several years to when builder Frank Thorogood (Paddy Considine) is being hired by soon-to-be-ex Rolling Stone Brian Jones (Gregory), to do work on his new mansion and the grounds surrounding it. Soon he's fascinated by the mercurial Jones.
Jones himself is lost in memories of his glory days of drugs, sex, jetsetting and exotic music -- and especially his former lover Anita Pallenberg (Monet Mazur), who dumped him for his bandmate Keith (Ben Whishaw). He draws Thorogood into a dangerous game of hedonistic fun, until the degraded builder strikes back at him -- with tragic results.
In theory, Jones was the ideal subject for a biopic -- he lived a short, colourful life full of drugs, art and sex. Perfect subjects for a wild movie. Too bad this movie is actually about Frank Thorogood.
Unfortunately director Stephen Woolley doesn't seem to realize that nobody really cares about Thorogood, or why he murdered Jones. What people want is Jones -- tortured artist, forlorn child-man, girlfriend-beating sadist. Woolley provides brief glimpses ("You're fun to wind up") into Jones' psyche, but there's a lot more of Thorogood getting stoned, whining, and jumping on sleeping women.
How did Jones start the Stones? How did fame and drugs change him? How did he deteriorate until his bandmates had to kick him out? Nope, don't expect answers. Instead we get about a hundred lingering shots of the swimming pool on Brian's estate -- thank you for that subtle foreshadowing, Mr. Woolley. We had almost forgotten that Jones drowned in the pool.
In the end, "Stoned" is remarkable more for what it leaves out than for what it contains. Anita, those illegitimate kids, and Jones' musical skills are all sort of pushed to the side so we can see the big bad rock star mess with a country lad. And Woolley NEVER focuses on his relationship with the Stones. It's a shame, because the flashbacks to the Moroccan vacation are the most intense and colourful of the whole movie.
Leo Gregory does a fairly good job with Jones' personality (too bad they look totally unalike). But star is Mazur as the dangerous, charismatic Anita; it's a shame the affair is basically dismissed as a longtime S&M romp. Whishaw and Luke de Woolfson deserve a special shout-out for their portrayals of Richards and Mick Jagger. Neither one has a lot of onscreen time, but they are utterly convincing.
"Stoned" is full of moments that show what the movie could have been, and never was. Instead of a study of a brilliant, manipulative musician, we have a study of how he messed with his gardener. A limp, schizophrenic mess."
A Typical Movie Twisiting The Truth
Robert Weingartner | Staten Island, New York United States | 07/06/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I have been a fan of Brian Jones' for many years and have always wanted to see a movie made about his life - and his was one of the interesting of any Sixties pop star. How many of the general public knows it was Brian Jones who founded and named the Rolling Stones? How many of the general public knows Brian Jones was the multitalented instrumentalist in the Stones and who played a key role in their creative sound during the Sixties by playing instruments like the Indian sitar (Paint It Black, Street Fighting Man), recorder (Ruby Tuesday), dulcimer (Lady Jane, I Am Waiting), mellotron (2000 Light Years From Home, We Love You), marimbas (Under My Thumb, Out Of Time), harmonica (Not Fade Away, I Want To Be Loved), and who was one of the first to play slide guitar (I Wanna Be Your Man, Little Red Rooster, I Can't Be Satisfied) in Great Britain - and one of the best slide guitarists as well. His slide guitar playing would have made any American Bluesman envious.
The movie does show flashbacks of his life, but unfortunately overlooks many important things like how hard he worked to get the Rolling Stones off the ground in their infancy years 1962-63, by writing countless letters to record companies trying to get their interest in signing the Stones, or letters to music papers encouraging journalists to come and see the Stones perform in Blues clubs around London, and to get bookings on British radio shows. It is also not mentioned that Brian Jones was one of the great fashion icons of the Swinging Sixties. Instead, this movie focuses on his self-indulgent lifestyle of sex and drugs and very little of what made him famous - the music.
The movies main plot focuses on the last few months of Brian Jones' life which climaxes with his 'murder' (although to this day his death certificate still reads 'misadventure'). The movie Stoned was based on three books, but yet this movie is nothing like any of those books. It was as if the filmmaker just made up his own story. The movie also leads you to believe that Brian Jones (played by Leo Gregory) and builder Frank Thorogood (Paddy Considine) were good pals. It shows them playing cricket together; Brian giving Thorogood his whole life sob story; and playing and recording music with him in an empty swimming pool. Almost every person who was there at the time said that Brian Jones didn't trust Thorogood and even complained that he was being charged astronomical amounts of money for work that the builder never completed. If you're a die-hard Brian Jones fan like me, than you will probably be disappointed.
Don't say you haven't been warned. You would be better off renting it at Blockbuster Video. Buy at your own risk.
A well done movie.
Robert Grant | 12/22/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I am a big fan of the Rolling Stones and I found this movie to be very well done. Some are disappointed the movie doesn't have more Stones music or show Brian in his prime. If you accept the movie is focusing on the end of Brian's life, you will be interested for what it shows rather than omits. What it shows is how Brian could be cruel, self-centered, and self-destructive. I found it interesting that a man who could have so much fame and money could be so miserable and feel the need to turn to drugs.
The actor playing Brian does a very good job! I think people who have some knowledge of the Rolling Stones will find this movie to be entertaining. Perhaps, having the life of a rock star comes with more temptation and pressure than most imagine. The decline of Brian shows how the envy of others, mixed with Brian's own lack of self-discipline led to his tragic early death. The movie portrays a morbid depressing atmosphere mixed in with luxury and wealth."
A mildly entertaining biopic that couldn't stay a float
Jenny J.J.I. | That Lives in Carolinas | 01/25/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not really into rock music but I am into biopic films. Woolley has produced some amazing British films over the past two decades, so it's not surprising that he finally turns to directing. But despite some strong acting and a groovy 60s vibe, the film is a mess. "Stoned" concentrates on the last weeks in the life of "Stones"- founder Brian Jones (Leo Gregory), whereby earlier developments are integrated again and again in flash backs. By alcohol and drug craze incapably become to co-operate further as a guitarist with its volumes Brian spends most time partitioned from the external world as well as his Swedish girlfriend Anna Wohlin (Tuva Novotny) in its country house. In order to hold it there under control, route manager Tom Keylock (David Morrisey) sends a friendly building contractor (Paddy Considine) to Brian, in order to implement some work on the house and on his favorite, who loses itself ever more in psychedelischen intoxications and eroticism excesses to watch out. But franc is so fascinated by Brains unusual personality and its out-curving life-style that it in-increases ever more into a mixture from admiration and jealousy. When Brian a further Psycho spiel with its guest floats, it comes to the disaster...
At least I think that's the plot. Although the film does offer some interesting insight on the mystery of Brian's death, it takes 84 minutes before it even lets on that there IS a mystery. Given the framing structure of the film, I was led to believe that the flashback story was going to explain the psychological descent of the principal that led him to an excessive lifestyle, hence death style. You know, your basic "drugs suck" movie. Turns out it has a completely different story to tell, but takes a very long time to get to it. Too long, in my opinion, and too little energy is expended on the way. The scenes are beautiful to look at, and often dramatically strong, but without an overriding through-line, they feel like unrelated short films featuring the same cast.
Even though the cast is interesting to look at, only Considine has a proper character to work with; Frank's an intriguing bundle of hopes and insecurities, plus elusive dark demons. This is really his story, not Brian's. And while Gregory has some excellent moments, he struggles to emerge from the drugged-out wooziness, especially with those cheap-looking wigs. Of the remaining cast, only Mazur and Morrissey get interesting roles, although we never know much about them. The rest barely register at all. As a director, Woolley has some nice touches in capturing the raw eccentricity of a rock star lifestyle. But he's obviously limited by copyright issues from including any Stones music or focusing on the band's own story. Not to mention the relentless homophobia and a series of weak epilogues.
The story unfolds the shocking set of events that led to Jones' premature death at 27. So he joins the league of legends - Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain - who broke on through to the other side at the same age. His story differs in that he didn't self-destruct; though some would argue, after seeing "Stoned," that he chose the water he was in - but not whether to sink or swim. "