Director Martin Scorsese won't say the Rolling Stones are like the underworld characters in many of his movies, but he admits the band's music evokes memories of the rough, mob-tinged street life he grew up around.
The Academy Award winner and the legendary band founded in London in 1962 have combined on Shine A Light, a concert documentary shot at New York's intimate Beacon Theatre in October 2006.
Scorsese and band members Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood and Charlie Watts held a press conference on Sunday ahead of the film's US release on April 4.
"I don't know if I can make any direct associations," Scorsese said with a laugh when asked what similarities he sees between the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members and the brutal criminals he has depicted in films such as Goodfellas, Casino and The Departed.
But the native New Yorker says their music has always struck powerful chords with him, so much that he used the group's violence-laced song Gimme Shelter in three of his previous films.
"The music has been very important to me over the years. It dealt with aspects of the life that I was growing up around, that I was associated with or saw or was experiencing and trying to make sense of," Scorsese said.
"It was tougher, it had an edge. Beautiful, honest and brutal at times. And it's always stayed with me and become a well of inspiration to this day," he added.
The film offers 17 songs mainly comprised of concert warhorses like Jumpin' Jack Flash, Start Me Up and Brown Sugar, and features guest appearances by blues legend Buddy Guy, White Stripes guitarist Jack White and singer Christina Aguilera.
The film's opening minutes show band front-man Jagger and Scorsese in a transatlantic teleconference tug-of-war over stage dimensions, camera placement and the song list.
Archival footage of the band and limited contemporary interviews also are included, but the film mainly is a straight depiction of the concert.
While Jagger initially wanted to film a larger concert -- possibly the band's February 2006 show at Brazil's Copacabana Beach that drew a crowd estimated at well over 1 million -- Scorsese pushed for the smaller venue.
Guitarist Richards said he was happy about the scaled-down show, especially because of his love of the Beacon Theatre.
"The Beacon Theatre is special for some reason ... The room sort of wraps its arms around you, and every night it gets warmer," Richards said. "And this band, you know, didn't start off in stadiums."
While filmed in a smaller venue, Jagger said the movie will have a larger-than-life look when it is shown in the huge-screen IMAX format. The film also will be released in theaters with regular screens.
"The funny thing is that Marty decided he wanted to make this small intimate movie and I said, 'Well the laugh is that, Marty, in the end, it's going to be blown up to this huge IMAX thing ...' But it looks good in IMAX," Jagger said.
The band was long on praise for Scorsese, who after five previous Best Director nominations finally won an Oscar for 2006's The Departed.
"He's a fantastic director and ... very painstaking on the editing to produce the movie that you see," Jagger said.
"We didn't choose Marty, Marty chose us," said Richards.