Tuesday, September 8, 2009

It Might Get Loud

A documentary bringing together three electric guitarists representing three eras. Jimmy Page representing the 70's, The Edge representing the 80's-90's, and Jack White representing the current decade. Basically designed to let these guys chat about what they do and how they do it.

Your reaction to this film will probably change based on how you react to these personalities.

For myself, the footage of Page was amazing. Especially enchanting is his air guitar antics to a Link Wray record. It's a moment that brings the circle back around to completion, as we can see, with our mind's eye, the young Page, and why he picked up the guitar in the first place. His journey to the locations where the history of Led Zeppelin was formed, and his clear memory of such tidbits as where microphones were hung, is astonishing.

Likewise, The Edge takes us around Dubiln, from the music schoolroom where U2 first rehearsed to the "war house" where they created their arguably best album. The Edge comes off as clear-headed and introspective. He's also unfailingly honest about how his sound is achieved, mainly through effects and signal manipulation. He's not really playing much, at all, and he knows it.

Then Jack White...

Here's the deal, I find Jack White to be an interesting character, but he's clearly developed a persona for himself, and he sticks to it. It's kinda annoying, when you see the Edge allowing a spotlight into the simplicity of what he does, for White to still be playing his game. I mean, we never see where he really lives or works, because I absolutely REFUSE to believe the ramshackle farmhouse where they shoot most of his solo footage is where he lives.

He does cop to the image building in regard to the White Stripes, claiming that he needed to build a "childlike" image in order to excuse the simplicity of what they do. Fine, but the story of a 7 by 7 room with two drum kits, so that little Jack had to sleep on a sheet of foam on the floor? Maybe it is true, but this guy has spun so many tales about himself, I can't take it on face value.

And the kid? Supposedly "Little Jack," following him around? What is that?

They are three distinct, accomplished personalities, but I couldn't help but wonder....Why these three? Seriously, if you asked me to name 3 innovators of the electric guitar, Page would jump right out, but I doubt The Edge or Jack White would even cross my mind. Eddie Van Halen? I understand you might not want to have three guys from the same genre, but I'd also argue that White, Edge and Page all play hard rock. How about jazz? Allan Holdsworth?

Of course, then you get into "who the hell is that?" territory. It's a film, you have to look to the general audience.

The selling point of this film is seeing these three guys come together, in a room, and jam. This does happen, but not nearly as much as I expected. It is interesting to watch the dynamics. White and Page are blues players, at heart, The Edge is not, that comes out in the jams. The Edge always seems just a bit out of his depth.

I did laugh out loud at the moment when Page starts into the "Whole Lotta Love" riff, and the other two just sit there...mouths open, watching.

The final song also is an interesting choice for a film about, specifically, the electric guitar. It's fun, and may have simply been the song all of them knew. Still I was sorta thinking, "really?"

I give this four stars as a film fan and a guitar player. If you're not the latter, or at least a big music fan, it may not be as fun for you.

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