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February 17, 2010

Review: It Might Get Loud

Three Stars. On DVD and PPV now.

A documentary that brings together Jimmy Page, U2's The Edge, and Jack White of the White Stripes and the Raconteurs to talk about the electric guitar and rock and roll.

It's a good movie. Here's the one thing that I didn't like: The whole thing was supposed to be about bringing these three guys together, right? And, hopefully, filming their discussions and inevitable jam session, right?

Well, yeah, but apparently they didn't have much of a conversation, because 75% (or 80%) of the movie isn't about them together, but consists of individual interviews where they talk about their past, and what drew them to rock, and the era they grew up in, and etc. Now, the individual interviews are, in fact, interesting -- did you know Jimmy Page played on Goldfinger? Yeah, the Shirley Bassey Bond theme -- but I kept waiting for the individual interviews to be over and them finally to stick with the three men together.

There's very little of that, really. Some good guitar stuff (great moment when The Edge teaches Page and White his special, pared-down method of playing the E chord), but not enough of it, and definitely very little of these guys talking together.

Still, it's a damn fine documentary.

Here is my absolute favorite moment of the movie.

All those guitar gods whose solos you play air-guitar to? You know what they do in their downtime?

They play air-guitar to their guitar gods.

This movie really made me want to listen to Zeppelin again. And Link Wray. And The Jam (The Edge cites The Jam's appearance on TOTP as opening his eyes to music).

And also... U2. Because I never liked U2, because I didn't like Bono. But The Edge, on the other hand, is such a... cool, understated guy, I think he completely balances out Bono's annoying messianism and makes it okay for me to like the band. The Edge here really was the star, because everything he said was interesting and just... pure information. Just very much fact, fact, interesting anecdote, fact, insight, small amusing joke, fact, fact, fact.

Page was cool too, but he didn't talk as much. I didn't get the sense of him I got about The Edge.

And Jack White? Erm... need to talk less and lose some attitude. Eh, maybe the other guys were just as annoying when they were young but age (and a huge stack of money) have mellowed them out.

Really good documentary which anyone who has even a passing interest in rock will like.

Just wish they would have talked to each other more.

But, as The Edge says, "The guitar is my voice."

Oh: Speaking of rockumentaries, I have two more to recommend. Under the fold.


I saw both of these on Netflix, the streaming video thing.

Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon. Nothing super-unexpected here, just a detailed documentary about the making of the album, song by song, with all the members of Floyd commenting. Very thorough and very much worth watching if you're a fan.

Bit of trivia: Those voices they play in the album, the snatches of dialogue? That was Waters' idea. He'd interview people by just showing them a card with a question, mostly about violence and sin. Questions included "Did you ever strike someone with the intent to really harm him?" and then the next question, "Did he deserve it?"

The answers are what's sampled on the album. Stuff like "Oh yeah that bastard deserved it."

Unless I misunderstood this part, two of the people in the studio that day were Paul McCartney and Linda Eastman, and their voices are sampled. Paul does some fake oldster voice, I think, and Linda Eastman does the "Yeah, he was cruisin' for a bruisin'" answer. (To the "Did he deserve it?" question.)

Good documentary.

Now, the unexpected one:

Glen Tilbrook: One for the Road. Unexpectedly fun and cute travelogue about Squeeze's Glen Tilbrook's solo tour through the US. He doesn't have money for a band, or an entourage, so he buys an RV and cruises through the US going city to city, parking in trailer parks, and generally having fun.

One thing to get out of the way: This is not a neutral documentary. This is a haigograhy by a super Glen Tilbrook fangirl (she admits that in the beginning). So don't expect any bad behavior or uncomfortable revelations from Tilbrook -- this is basically a bit of Squeeze evangelicalism.*

But who cares? It's supposed to be fun, and it is. Tilbrook really seems a sweet guy, and really loves the idea of cruising through America in his big (used) RV. He sort of gets off on the whole RV lifestyle.

Because he doesn't have a band (which he admits he'd like to, he just doesn't have the money; he doesn't try selling you on the idea he's doing it out of principle), he uses all sorts of tricks to connect to his devoted fans, like leading them down the street like the pied piper as he plays guitar and they sing the words. Or, when one fan suggests they leave the small club he's playing at and play at her apartment, agreeing -- and bringing the whole club back to a 400 square foot condo.

The best part of this is when he's parked in a Texas RV park. He needs a spare part for his RV (his is always breaking down), and meets some of his RV park-mates in trying to borrow it.

Not from around here, one Texan says.

-- No, from London, he says.

What do you do there? the Texan wants to know.

-- I'm a musician.

Oh? What do you play?

-- I used to be in a band called Squeeze. My name is Glen Tilbrook.

No shut up.

-- No, I am.

Get the hell out of here.

Turns out not only is this guy a huge Squeeze fan, but his buddy in the next RV is an even bigger Squeeze fan, and gets out his 45 Singles and Under CD for Tilbrook to sign.

It's a really cute moment.

There's really not a lot to this documentary. RV driving, a lot of accoustic Squeeze, cute stuff like Tilbrook playing in Grand Central Station and stuff.

You either like Squeeze and want a fluff documentary about one of its two frontmen or you don't.

Gets a bit boring in the final stretch. Kind of the same thing over and over. Wears out its welcome at about 70 minutes.

This clip contains video from the documentary, but not the audio. They just play the studio version of Goodbye Girl over the visuals. Gives you an idea of what you'll be getting, though.

* Actually I realize this is an unfair thing to say -- the other two documentaries are obviously in love with their rock-star subjects, too, so why point out this particular girl is a fangirl?

I guess just because she makes a point of saying so upfront. And I guess because this documentary follows Tilbrook behind the scenes, through various annoyances and stresses, but he never once loses his grin.

So, maybe he is just an very even-tempered and happy guy... but I suspect at some point Tilbrook cursed or otherwise showed displeasure, but it's not shown.

Not that I really care. It's not like I was looking for this documentary to tear the fascade off Glen Tilbrook's smug face and show me the lie beneath or anything.

Not really sure why I've pointed this out. I guess I just sort of was expecting more of an all-access pass, here, some not-so-happy moments.


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posted by Ace at 11:59 PM

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