Review

It Might Get Loud Review

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Aug 11, 2009 | 1:47pm EDT

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

The premise of It Might Get Loud is simple: three legendary guitarists Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin The Edge of U2 and Jack White of The White Stripes talk about guitars. Hearing these masters muse on their instrument of choice is an appealing conversation even for those not adept at the device and it’s wholly fascinating for those who are. Beautifully lit high-def close-ups of the trio’s fleet of instruments also function as hardcore guitar porn for six-string enthusiasts.

The documentary-style flick directed by An Inconvenient Truth’s Davis Guggenheim is more than just 97 minutes of the three guitar heroes waxing poetic about their axes. Above all else  It Might Get Loud is an homage to the talent and lives of these genre-altering musicians. Using the guitar as a point of entry Guggenheim coaxes stories musings and memories out of Page Edge and White each of whom has more than a few good tales to tell. The film follows each guitarist to their respective homes in England Dublin and Nashville and then finally to a soundstage in Los Angeles where the three legends meet to talk music. Then they have a jam session and fulfill a million musical fantasies.

WHO’S IN IT?

The cast is composed only of Jack White as the rogue of modern rock The Edge as the straight man and Jimmy Page as the elder statesman. They’re enough.

WHAT’S GOOD?

The film is an intimate foray into the lives and careers of three men who have changed the game of rock and roll. The guitar stuff is interesting but what’s better is hearing each guy talk about his start in music  career progression recording iconic tracks etc. The film humanizes each musician especially White whose expertly manicured public persona is steeped in Dylan-esque mystery. Hearing the pale guy at the center of the peppermint-striped lore talk about growing up in Detroit filling his tiny childhood bedroom with musical equipment and cutting his first LP while working as a furniture upholsterer is welcome insight for fans.

It Might Get Loud is packed with rare footage photos and recordings from the careers of all three artists. We get to see Jimmy Page’s first appearance on British television as a boy The White Stripes doing a concert for the elderly and The Edge pulling out a box of unmarked cassette tapes popping one in and discovering it to the be an early version of “Where the Streets Have No Name.”

WHAT’S BAD?

Until they meet at the soundstage “summit ” Page White and Edge are shot separately. While the intercutting of these segments is more or less seamless a few jumps are a bit clunky and the text mechanism that breaks the film into chapters comes off a touch hokey. These are small criticisms; the film is essentially a cinematic wet dream complete with epic soundtrack for anyone interested in the subject matter.

FAVORITE SCENE?

There’s a deluxe box set worth of amazing moments but the scene in which The Edge discusses his E chord stands out. With guitar in hand he explains that the particular chord typically has a bit of distortion inherent in its sound. He however has stripped his E chord of said excess noise and made it more basic. He plays both E chords and the difference is almost imperceptible. He says it’s this type of simplification that has given his guitar sound its trademark minimalism. This might seem like a trivial geeked-out detail  until you consider that he's talking about a little-known contributing element of some of the most iconic guitar intros in popular music.

It’s also cool to watch the look on Jack White’s face as he hangs out with Jimmy Page. White seems barely able to control his excitement as Page gives him guitar pointers.

PARTING SHOT?

It Might Get Loud is a treat for anyone even a little bit interested in guitars rock and roll legendary bands musical history  classic songs Led Zeppelin The White Stripes and U2. If you like any of these things even a little bit see this movie. It won't disappoint.

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