Monday, December 28, 2009

Impromptu Movie Review: It Might Get Loud

It Might Get Loud is the kind of ambitious project that needed a name brand director. I can't imagine how else they would have convinced Jack White, the Edge and Jimmy Page to do it. Each of the three represents a different musical generation and distinct background, giving the film three dissonant storylines. It's subjects are three guitarists, but it's more about music in general than guitar.

It begins with a scene showing Jack White building a one string guitar from some scraps of wood and a coke bottle and later documents the Edge's never-ending quest to find the perfect sound through hundreds of knobs, switches and sliders. The antithesis of the overproduced sounds of the Edge, White tends towards the organic: hence the minimalist opening. At one point the Edge, sitting in his studio packed with amps and computers, demonstrates that the riff he's playing is unsurprisingly only a cavalcade of effects. Later on, White listens to a record featuring a man with no instruments - only his voice and some manual percussion - in what appears to be his attic. Somewhere in between, are Page and his ever-present smile, at times playing a double necked guitar and others strumming a mandolin.

As the film weaves together the formative years of each guitarist, revisiting scenes of their youth, backdrops roam from a farmhouse in Tennessee to an English manor to the bleak grayness of Dublin, culminating on a well-lit soundstage in Los Angeles.

It's on this soundstage that the film comes together (and gets loud). It attempts to unite the musicians with a summit and jam session featuring a song from each of them. What that meeting lacks in synergy it makes up for in authenticity. Being that these are guitarists and not lead singers, it shouldn't be surprising that each comes across as genuine.

The film doles out pieces of that jam session in tiny bits and it's clear that the different styles blend about as seamlessly together as the movie does - which is to say not very well. But it's still enjoyable to see happening. If you've got some free time and want to check it out, you can watch the entire thing in ten minute sections on YouTube or obviously, buy it since it was just released on DVD shortly before Christmas.

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