Aug 26, 2008

Guitar Flicks For Guitar Lovers

Normally this site is dedicated to guitar instruction, and of course this will always be true, but I still like to keep GuitArticles as diverse as possible. I find that any blog that hashes out the same content over and over again, no matter how relevant the content is, can be quite boring, so I thought that I would take the time to talk about two amazing films that revolve around the subject of guitar.

Sweet and Lowdown.

Sweet and Lowdown is that infamous film directed by Woody Allen that stars Sean Penn. Its a really fascinating movie, because its a strange hybrid between drama, comedy, and documentary. One could call it a total mockumentary, but it is so thoughtful in nature, that it is almost impossible to classify it.

I did an article, not all that long ago, about the great
Django Reinhardt, called Two Finger Madness. Many of you are familiar with Reinhardt's work already, but many of you have probably never even hear of Sweet and Lowdown. The movie is not about Reinhardt, though he does make a guest appearance, by way of a very talented actor. Instead, the film is molded around him, or rather from him. Sean Penn plays the Reinhardt-like character Emmet Ray, a very self-centered, sickeningly talented and egotistical guitarist, who cannot cope with his own failures and inability to set aside his ego to really go far.

The film is a blast, and its a really tribute to Woody Allen's abilities as a story teller, that everyone believed that Emmet Ray was a real person. Indeed, he is just a figure of Allen's imagination, but the use of interviews such as the ones with the infamous jazz critic, Stanley Crouch, give the film a lot of solidarity. The music is fantastic, and at times exhilarating.

The verdict is that if you want to see a film that flows really well and offers great music, then definitely check out Sweet and Lowdown. Its a great film to relax to for the music and sweet story, but the acting is also really phenomenal.


I know, an 80's movie, but the truth of the matter is that it is really an outstanding piece of work. This film was actually one of my biggest inspirations when I was younger. Who could have imagined that the karate kid could shred like he does, and if he's not really playing, who cares? his finger work is quite accurate. The most important thing about the Crossroads, is the monstrous duel between Ralph Macchio and Steve Vai at the very peak of the tale. Of course Steve Vai gets beaten by an amazing rendition of Paganini's 5th caprice on Ralph Machio's part, but the irony of it is that Vai recorded all of the guitar work for the film, something that has never been new to the virtuoso, considering that he has done the music for many, many movies.

Crossroads got me started shredding when I heard Paganini's 5th Caprice, and though I was very young and inexperienced, I worked insanely hard on the piece. If you liked Oh Brother Where Art Thou, then you will love this film as it shares the same structure of the legend that revolved around the iconic Robert Johnson.

The verdict? check out the famous guitar duel scene below and you'll know whether you like it or not.

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