Saturday, August 22, 2009

"it might get loud" movie review

yesterday i went to an afternoon show of "it might get loud," a documentary on the work of three disparate rock guitarists, jimmy page, the edge, and jack white. initially, what drew me to the film was jimmy page's involvement - i would've been just as happy to watch a documentary on jimmy page alone! but within the first two minutes of "it might get loud," jack white hammer together some wood and wire, tossed in a coke bottle, then plug that mess into an amp - and play it (loud!) - i was seriously hooked.

the short version of this review: "it might get loud" is a must watch film for anyone with any connection to music. if you're a fan of page, the edge, or jack white and you skip this film, the regrets would be immeasurable. to put my fascination in context, i can't remember the last time i watched the credits of any film. not only did i sit thr0ugh the credits (the hook: the trio performed an acoustic "the weight") - but i could've stayed and watched another hour of them! it was that riveting to watch these guys on stage together.

the filmmaker, davis guggenheim ("an inconvenient truth"), brought together 3 of rock's electric guitar virtuosos - each from an ostensibly different generation (of time and music). guggenheim then interwove their back stories as he brought them together on stage for what amounted to a masters seminar on the electric guitar, history lesson, and jam session. how they began to slowly share stories and techniques until they picked up their guitars and started to play for (and then with) each other is the heart of the film.

watching jimmy page discuss the evolution of the double neck guitar and discuss it's importance to "stairway to heaven" - then watching the vintage footage of page play it on stage with led zeppelin was riveting. but the most astonishing - if not rewarding - part of the documentary was watching the three play "in my time of dying" late in the session. they were transformed into garden variety (albeit legendary) guitar geeks jamming together to learn a new riff - beautiful stuff.

as i mentioned, i was drawn to this film by page (and, coincidentally, it was robert plant's birthday the day before) - and loved the never before scenes of his private life. page was like a little kid taking the audience into his listening room, pulling out old album and once they spun on the turntable, played air guitar along with the riffs! he was transformed into every other teenager who listens to albums in his room (or today, i guess plays "guitar hero").

but aside from page, the film introduced me to jack white. i had never heard of him (or his music). from what i saw of him, that will definitely change. "it might get loud" also brought me back to the days i was into u2. the edge, going back to his early influences (the punk movement of the 70's - again, coincidentally, it was joe strummer's birthday when i caught the film), brought a new appreciation of the development of his sound (heavily influenced by tech and gadgetry).

the funniest part of the entire film was the counter intuitive close: how 3 electric guitarists found themselves learning the music and lyrics to "the weight" - and then played it acoustically to end the documentary was ironic (to put it mildly). coming off the monster jam they had just performed of "in my time of dying" it was actually a letdown! but that minor cavil aside, it was a terrific film!

watch it LOUD!

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