Sunday, March 21, 2010

The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights - Review.

Rating: 4 out of 5 peppermint candies.

So, tonight I watched the new White Stripes movie, Under Great White Northern Lights, and all I can say is that I was left feeling a little cold and unfulfilled. That isn't to say that it's a bad film by any means. In fact, it's just the opposite. In 92 minutes director Emmet Malloy manages to capture tons of beautiful scenery and dozens of candid moments between the supposed siblings that once shared a house as husband and wife. For the uninitiated this may be a bit too ramshackle and for the die hard fan it may make you feel as though you've waiting too long for too little. (I really did enjoy it... promise.)

As a long time fan myself, it was great to see Jack and Meg sharing the stage again, but every time I wanted to bust out the old air guitar and air drums, the filmmakers decided to stop me dead in my tracks. Throughout the film we're treated to songs from every album and what would appear to be intensely spirited performances are hastily cut short and melded together in such a sloppy manner that it could raise comparisons to a 30 second infomercial for the bands greatest hits. I'm not sure about the rest of the world, but after such a long hiatus from Detroit's red and white duo I'd expect something a little more. Am I being selfish? Am I asking for something unreasonable? Am I not seeing "the art?" Truth be told I am. I can see that this is a well made documentary about a little band that could and I'm happy that it exists. In fact, I've watched it twice tonight.

There are a few parts in the film (I hate calling it that) where Meg and Jack are in some pretty random places. Coming to mind is one scene where they're with a group of tribal elders, each of them appearing to be well into their eighties, when Jack pulls out his guitar after making a deal where he'd play for them and them for he. He ends up playing a really good version of Blind Willie McTell's "Lord, send me an angel" and it's so apparent that his charm has won them over in such a way that their feet start tapping and their heads begin nodding along. This is an honest and amazing moment that shows how this band will appeal to even the most unconventional listener. As promised a few of the tribe members give them a show of their own, pulling out an accordion and causing a lady that appears old enough to break, to start dancing up a little dust storm of her own. Obviously, a good time was had by all, but eating raw caribou couldn't have been the tastiest way to end the band's visit with the tribe.

The most poignant moment in the movie, which will certainly be a topic of discussion for many, is the last scene where Jack and Meg sit at the piano together. She sits at his side and as he sings the song "White Moon" she begins to cry. There doesn't seem to be any particular reason either. Was she moved by his singing? Does the song have personal meaning? Did her cat pass away? Or, is it what has and will always be brought up when speaking of the White Stripes... is she still in love with him? I'm not sure if anyone outside of their closest circle will ever know the answer, but then I guess I'll just have to watch it again tonight and cross my fingers for some new product... like maybe a full DVD performance?


Anonymous said...

I just got done watching the film as well, I enjoyed it. I agree with everything you said. The performances could have been a little longer, right about the time you really got into it they cut and went to something else.

And what the hell was the deal with Meg at the end? I think she still loves him, to me it looked like she was waiting for Jack to kiss her. Just a thought. What a strange relationship they have.

It's good to have you back.

Anonymous said...

There is a full live DVD of their anniversary show that came with the big box set release, entitled "Under Nova Scotian Lights," but the box set is mighty pricey.

Oh, robot said...

^ Isn't that just the problem? Not everybody has three trillion dollars to buy a White Stripes lunchpail anymore Jack. Got anything else you wanna sell? Huh?

I should be able to buy the white stripes nova scotia dvd for the most, $24.00 and not have to fork out two hundred bucks.