I struggled a bit with “Really Good Rejects,” director Alice Gu’s thorough look at Los Angeles guitar craftsman Reuben Cox. Blessed with an instinct and intuition for creating stringed instruments, Cox has made a name for himself by building custom guitars with exclusive sounds from unique materials for some of the rock world’s biggest names.
It’s a good subject for a documentary, but Gu assumes a prior knowledge of or experience with the topic, making this one a little advanced for folks with little or no familiarity with the music world.
The documentary features interviews and performances from mostly indie artists, and there are plenty of scenes with guitar strumming and singing. By including many musical interludes, Gu presents the varied sounds from the different types of guitars to audibly illustrate the different sounds.
This goes on far too long if you don’t have an appreciation for the art of the guitar, and it is aimed at creatives rather than the general public. Musicians and guitarists will find the deepest appreciation in the subject matter.
The most compelling part of the documentary is hearing how many artists consider Cox’s instruments to be a musician’s “Excalibur,” as picking up one of his guitars can instantly unlock creativity. Some believe each instrument has a song hidden inside it and as soon as it’s picked up, it speaks to the artist and tells them how it wants to be played. The notion that all guitars have souls may sound laughable, but this film actually convinced me by the end that this myth and legend may actually be true.
“Really Good Rejects” is so specific that I wouldn’t recommend it to folks unless they are interested in the topic. It’s not a film that sets out to teach, but one that feels designed to share stories among like-minded friends. This documentary is just too specialized to have mass appeal, even on the indie festival circuit.