September 10, 2009

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It Might Get Loud (PG)
Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White show each other cool guitar moves in It Might Get Loud, a totally fun music geek documentary.

There is something that is nerdy in the extreme about this movie. The mild-seeming The Edge showing off the fun he can have by distorting and amplifying basic guitar riffs. A grandfatherly Jimmy Page explaining how he came to play the guitar and how his guitar style changed throughout his career and how he developed the sound of Led Zeppelin. Jack White and his only a little poser-ish love of blues and banged-up instruments. The more they go on, listening to songs and playing a few chords and saying the equivalent of “isn’t that cool,” the more endearing the movie becomes. These are all relatively big-time rock stars but The Edge seems to be appropriately wowed by Jimmy Page and both The Edge and Page seem to have a kind of fondness for the overly serious White. They play together a few times — and, charmingly, it’s not perfect — and apart more and do a bit of showing off for each other. Some scenes are shot with the three on a sound stage together, some are shot individually in places that have some kind of significance for them.

This isn’t a history of any particular band (though you get a bit of that including footage of a very young, very new wave-y U2) or a glossy celebrity interview. It’s more laid back than that, more “check out my cool guitar” or “you have to hear this old record I found” than anything as rigid as a formal interview or a history of the guitar or of rock and roll.

And though I can’t name every song from every album of these guys, I guess I’m enough of a has-her-CDs-in-alphabetical-order selective geek about music that I can appreciate the level of interest this trio has for their music. Their excitement about the guitar and about continuing to learn new things to do with it is infectious. Actually, I guess I’m not so much of a music geek as a geek geek — I am almost embarrassingly delighted by situations where people have taken their nerdy interest and run far past the point where it’s interesting to anybody else. And that’s what makes this movie a joy not just for fans of these particular musicians or for music- or guitar-geeks in general. It’s full of the kind of giddy detail shared earnestly that we all look for in whatever our particular nerd-out subject is. A-

Rated PG for mild thematic elements, brief language and smoking. Directed by Davis Guggenheim, It Might Get Loud is an hour and 37 minutes long and distributed in limited release by Sony Pictures Classics.