Sunday, November 08, 2009

REVIEW: It Might Get Loud

I cannot properly call myself a great fan of The Edge, Jack White or Jimmy Page, but I was still enthralled by this documentary that compares and contrasts the lives and styles of three guitarists who are very different, and yet very much the same.

As the movies tells it, The Edge of U2 is the technology freak, obsessed with finding the right pedal or computer that will help him create the sounds he hears in his head. Jack White is the oddball who listens to old blues records and could hammer together a guitar made out of a broom handle, a voodoo doll, an egg carton and a wristwatch if you asked him to. Page is the seen-it-all reflective elder statesman who played on the title track of Goldfinger and who invented a double-necked guitar so he could play "Stairway to Heaven" on stage.

The movie compares and contrasts their rises to fame and has its three principals talk together, and most importantly play together in scenes that thrilled even this non-aficionado.

I may not be a guitar freak, but I am fascinated by how a record or an instrument arrives at a particular sound, and this was where It Might Get Loud truly fascinated me. I loved watching The Edge play with his various toys, watching White demonstrate how he made a guitar with a built-in microphone, or watching Page describe how Zeppelin songs achieved a spacious sound by being recorded in a mansion.

My only serious misgiving with It Might Get Loud is that it doesn't go quite deep enough; just as I would be fully immersed in one guitarist's story, the movie would rather abruptly shift away to another one of the guys. I wish director Davis Guggenheim had allowed some of the segments to breathe a little more.

Still, the movie really worked on me, and here's when I knew why. Not only am I not a fan of Led Zeppelin, I consider them one of the most overrated classic rock bands of all time. When "Stairway to Heaven" comes on the radio, I roll my eyes and turn it off. And yet ... and yet - the most enjoyable moment of this documentary for me was when Page breaks into "Whole Lotta Love" - and The Edge and White look at him like they want to marry him.

I didn't quite agree - but I understood.


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