It Might Get Loud (2009)
I am not a musician and don't know much about the theoretical side of music, nor do I know much about the technical side of music; but, as Lux Interior intoned on The Cramps' I Ain't Nuthin' But a Gorehound, "I don't know about art but I know what I like". I like this film. It's not a rallying cry for would-be eco-warriors just looking for an excuse to break free of their Yorkville shackles, nor is it about a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction oddball. But it is about something which almost everyone has heard, and which still captivates and lures to this day - the electric guitar.
Doc-man Davis Guggenheim (The First Year, An Inconvenient Truth) gathers three diverse, iconic guitarists spanning three generations and encapsulating three very different playing styles and lets them loose. Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, U2's The Edge, and The White Stripes' Jack White gather and simply talk about their approach to the instrument, their influences, and the future they see for their instrument. And they play. Throughout, Guggenheim frames each person's onscreen presence with anecdotal clips and archival footage. Well done, overall.
This isn't groundbreaking or IMPORTANT STUFF, but what it IS is a powerful, groovy, sometimes visually and aurally inventive doc that'll have you cranking the volume and bobbing your head. Not to say that it is merely a fluff piece, but I'm sure there are "better" ways to spend 90 minutes. But then again, there usually always are. Sometimes, however, you don't want to bludgeoned over the head by "political" docs dealing with issues that, in reality, carry far more nuanced feelings and complex issues than the films would have you believe. Sometimes you don't want to watch a film that you'll feel guilty for disagreeing with. Sometimes you just want to watch a film that'll make your soul sing, and will bring a smile to your face. So you watch It Might Get Loud.
So, what draws people to the guitar? I'm not sure the film answers that question, but it doesn't seem to matter. What matters is that this is an instrument that endures and continues to capture the imagination of fans and artists alike. As Page says about the guitar at one point, "whether I took it on or it took me on, I don't know. The jury's out on that. But I don't care. I just really, really enjoyed it". I could say the same of the film. Guggenheim keeps the whole thing from becoming a self-indulgent wankfest and while it never becomes quite as transcendent as some guitar work that reaches in and grabs hold of your heart, it comes close. And you'll hear Death Is This Communion with a new ear. If you get nothing else from it, you have to admit that Jimmy Page is one cool, cool cat. This is a good one. Check it.