Good and Loud

Seems like this has turned into a music documentary blog of late, but I keep seeing interesting music-related films.  Saw another one last Friday.  Part of FilmFest DC, Under Great White Northern Lights chronicles the Canadian tour by the White Stripes in 2007.  Apparently the band had troubles getting in the country in the past, and wanted to do a proper tour of Canada.  They head to all the Canadian provinces, depicted with a plane graphic flying and landing at each location.

Music docs usually take one of two forms.  The straight concert film that chronicles a concert or series of shows.  Or the story of the band film.  This one is definitely the first kind.  There is some post-concert backstage talk and mini-interviews throughout the film.  These are interesting for two reasons.  One, they show that Meg White is painfully anti-social.  She talks in a whisper (they give her subtitles) and is always sitting with her eyes down, slumping over.  You can just tell that she is not really enjoying the interview segments.   So Jack does all the talking.  This does lead to one funny exchange where he explains that he doesn’t talk over Meg, it’s just she doesn’t talk.  He does this while she is trying to say “let me say just one thing.”

The other thing the interviews show is that Jack is somewhat obsessed with others’ (especially critics’) views of the band.  He recites quotes from critics about the band and seems to want to explain how the band is so spontaneous even though they have a regimented look and perceived style.

One of the products of that spontaneity are the daytime concerts they give, on short notice at various locations, in the cities they are having concerts in.  Pool halls, bowling alleys, a park, and the back of a small boat are all “venues.”  These are neat scenes; you get to see the band in a setting you probably aren’t going to see them in otherwise.

And then there are the concert scenes.  These are fabulous.  I really felt like I was right there with the band.  On a few occasions, when they ended a song, I had to stop myself from clapping along with the audience.  I saw nodding heads and tapping feet in my general vicinity.  The Stripes are loud.  Jack shreds on the guitar and once in awhile he makes his way to a keyboard.  Meg seems much more comfortable behind the drumkit.  The live version of 7 Nation Army they play towards the end of the movie is very powerful and Meg crushes the drums.

The film ends with Jack playing a piano and singing “White Moon.”  Meg sits next to him and starts crying.  The film ends with Jack embracing her as she cries.  It’s an odd ending.  It’s like they forgot to play up the brother/sister, former marriage angle that is part of the Stripes’ mythology, so put this in the film.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this for Stripes fans and music fans in general because of the great concert footage and the impromptu outdoor performances.

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2 Responses to “Good and Loud”

  1. rollingstone Says:

    I agree… that was an amazing documentary film!

  2. The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights « Meadow Muffins of the Mind Says:

    […] type of impromptu sets they staged in each of the places.  The concert scenes are outstanding.  As NQ puts it: And then there are the concert scenes.  These are fabulous.  I really felt like I was right […]

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