' ' Cinema Romantico: It Might Get Loud

Friday, September 11, 2009

It Might Get Loud

There is no doubt I am a huge fan of music yet despite that hugeness I have never been drawn to bands who devote significant face time to the guitar. (For instance, Bruce Springsteen isn't even the best guitarist in his own band! That would be Nils Lofgren. And guess who my least favorite member of The E Street Band is? Not that I have anything against Nils, of course, but what he does best just isn't my fancy.) It's why I had a reservation or two when I sat down to indulge in Davis (The Guy Who Actually Won That Oscar For Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth") Guggenheim's documentary uniting a triumverate of guitar gods: Jack White, primarily of The White Stripes. The Edge of U2. Jimmy Page, primarily of Led Zeppelin. Yet "It Might Get Loud", though touching on aspects of their chosen instrument, is less for guitar enthusiasts than it is for all of us not too embarrassed to admit to having shredded an air guitar at one time or another.

The primary setting is a stage done up with the respective toys of our principle axemen allowing for both ruminations and impromptu jam sessions. But the film also branches far, far out of this studio, into the lives of the three men, the launching of their passions, the births of their bands, discovering the instruments that defined the bands' sounds. Yes, if you're an uber fan of one or all of this trio the information provided is probably quite foregone but it's why Guggenheim only spends as much time as is necessary to paint the necessary picture and then moves on to other more intimate details - strolls down memory lane, watching these famed musicians reveling in the music they love and lighting up like third graders smitten with an out-of-their-league eighth grader in the presence of one another. (The moment when Page starts strumming the riff to "Whole Lotta Love" and The Edge gets out of his seat to get a closer look and Jack White gets this little smile and his head tilts as if he's lovelorn, which he might be, is worth the price of your ticket all by itself. They're guitar gods but they're still just guys.)

Truly, there is something moving about watching Jimmy Page return to the wide open entryway of a mansion that once housed John Bonham's drums which thundered out the beat to "When The Levee Breaks", the beat that you've got in your head right now just because I mentioned it, or seeing The Edge at the teeny-tiny location of one of their earliest shows and saying, "Bono stood here and I stood there....and I guess I've been standing there ever since."

Did "It Might Get Loud" teach me anything? Eh, not really. I suppose I didn't know Jack White grew up in Detroit's Mexican-town and I wasn't aware the young Jimmy Page was a hired gun on studio Top 40 crap but then I don't buy CDs by the truckload to "learn" since, you know, I can't really even play one chord on a guitar. I buy them to "experience". Ya know? (I vividly recall telling my friend Caleb how much I loved the bassline on U2's "Beautiful Day" and then he tried to explain to me how it was a "drone" song and finally I just said, "Whatever. I don't care what it is or how he makes it happen. I just know I like it.")

"It Might Get Loud" is best summed up by seeing The Edge listen to early four track recordings of "Where The Streets Have No Name" and then Guggenheim transitioning to the current U2 rocking the same song live with Bono taking a lap around the stage and The Edge strumming the same riff from that rough four track in front of thousands and thousands of screaming, smiling fans and you see how that becomes this and, well, if you have any hairs on the back of your neck they will be standing up.

Whether you love a particular musical instrument or just music in general, you should go see this movie.

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