David Guggenheim’s delightfully unsnobby symposium of a documentary convenes three masters who share one love: electric guitar. Page is a walking monument to Led Zeppelin’s heavy virtuosity. While the classic rocker is a rock classicist devoted to technique, White bangs on as a dirty minimalist who imagines roots rock as a primal struggle. Using low-end equipment for the sake of the challenge, he battles against the limits of a borrowed plastic ax. “Technology is a big destroyer of emotion and truth,” White says, espousing a philosophy that is countered by the third member of the panel.Hey, U2’s soaring superjets don’t engineer themselves, and the Edge, narrowing his eyes at his laptop and micro-adjusting control knobs, comes across as a passionate technologist. In keeping with the sonic sleekness of his own arena rock, he scorns the hairy pomp of his forerunners. “I didn’t laugh,” he says of first seeing the 1984 heavy-metal spoof This Is Spinal Tap. “I wept. It was so close to the truth.”
Though famous for An Inconvenient Truth — Al Gore’s Oscar-winning slideshow — the director lifts his film above Inside the Rockers Studio monotony with slick moves picked up shooting episodes of Deadwood and 24. Dashing to Dublin and climbing the stairway to heaven at Headley Grange, Guggenheim builds a three-part coming-of-age story about mannish boys hard at play. Encouraging a revealing directness from his subjects, he ensures that the songs do not remain the same. The Edge counts through a riff on a four-track demo — the genesis of “Where the Streets Have No Name” — by way of explaining how he learned to structure a song. In concert footage, White shears through the Raconteurs’ “Blue Veins” until his knuckles pour red blood.
Getting loud and being clear about the mysteries of his method, each speaks volumes.
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