Saturday, September 26, 2009

My companion at 90-minute mark: "When is this thing over?"

Went with the ten-year-old last night to see It Might Get Loud, the Inconvenient Truth guy's documentary about electric guitars. (No, I don't mean Al Gore. He must be, what, sixty years old.) Jimmy Page seems remarkably sane and benevolent for someone who was once strung out on smack, allegedly helped destroy numerous hotel rooms, hand-picked a former wrestler to run his label and rough guys up, and was deep enough into the devil to buy Aleister Crowley's old crib. Watching him play old 45s is kind of like hanging out with your newly-mellow Vietnam-vet uncle.

The Edge is the very serious fellow we suspected. Not many destroyed hotel rooms in this guy's past. The Christianity he burst onto the scene with has been transformed into a rather impressive, monk-like search for perfect guitar sounds. He is a parer-downer: plays an E chord with three strings. When Page launches into the blues, Edge gets the same skeptical-father-in-law look that McCain had when he debated Obama. One of the shortcomings of the film is its failure to address Edge's right-on dismissal of the era of the epic guitar solo, which the discovery of the Buzzcocks, Pistols, Clash, et al, emancipated him from, and which Page, on the other hand, was the godfather of. How the filmmakers failed to cash in on this brewing confrontation is hard to fathom. But no, they keep it friendly.

There are just too damn many stories jockeying for attention in this film. Which brings us to Jack White. Dude should have a whole movie to himself. He brings the same genius for conceptualization to this film that he brings to the Stripes. Opening shots of him building a guitar from a 2 x 4, a Coke bottle, some twine, and the most bare-boned pick-up imaginable, while a pasture full of Herfords looks on, is the highpoint of the film--and, I feel sure, was White's idea, not the director's. As was, no doubt, the recruitment of the child in the Panama hat to act as a sort of mini-White. Watching the two of them driving dream-like through empty landscapes gives us a glimpse of a never-made, better film.

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