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Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt And The Magnetic Fields (2010)

tomatometer

71

Average Rating: 6.7/10
Critic Reviews: 14
Fresh: 10 | Rotten: 4

No consensus yet.

audience

72

liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 181

My Rating

Movie Info

Performing with the Magnetic Fields since 1991, Stephin Merritt has composed some of his generation's most intellectually incisive, whimsical, witty and acerbic music. A dedicated, growing army of admirers flocks to the group's concerts and makes Merritt an odd sort of anti-celebrity, one who is happiest not being recognized, whiling away the hours in gay bars on either coast or spending a good part of the day soaking up obscure movie classics. Ten years in the making, the film follows the

Apr 1, 2011

$68.1k

Variance Films - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (30) | Top Critics (15) | Fresh (22) | Rotten (7)

In inviting us along to peek into the life, filmmakers Kerthy Fix and Gail O'Hara don't give us quite enough about the art.

November 18, 2010 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
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Overall, this is a nice introduction to an amiably dour tunesmith who once wrote that "all art aspires to the condition of Top 40 bubblegum pop."

November 11, 2010 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
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Clearly, the directors have to be Merritt advocates to hang in there that long, but the film that resulted has elements that keep it from being simply a fan's notes.

November 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
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This portrait of the famed indie rock composer-musician is for fans only.

November 1, 2010 Full Review Source: Hollywood Reporter
Hollywood Reporter
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No matter your take on Merritt's persona, there's no denying that he's a unique musician whose songs -- such as "Papa Was a Rodeo" and "Living in an Abandoned Firehouse With You" -- are worth discovering. As is this film.

October 29, 2010 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
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Most fan-docs are fairly remedial, but Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt And The Magnetic Fields is more sophisticated than the norm, in keeping with its subject.

October 28, 2010 Full Review Source: AV Club
AV Club
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Merritt seems to loathe the very idea of being in a movie. That impression lends a weird tension to Fix and O'Hara's otherwise affectionate and conventional account of his career to date.

December 28, 2010 Full Review Source: eye WEEKLY
eye WEEKLY

"Strange Powers" moves with lightness, verve and charm, which Magnetic Fields fans might find amusing, given Merritt's well-known morosity.

December 10, 2010 Full Review Source: Oregonian
Oregonian

A most satisfying portrait of the artist as a middle-aged curmudgeon.

November 12, 2010 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

A glimpse behind the curtain of creativity that makes a persuasive case for a tip of the cap to artistic enablers.

November 11, 2010 Full Review Source: Shared Darkness
Shared Darkness

For my part, I knew nothing about The Magnetic Fields before seeing the movie. I came out interested in hearing more of their discography.

November 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

The film is a piecemeal mosaic through which Merritt drifts like a small dark cloud. It may not pierce to the heart of his art, but it comes as close as anyone's likely to get.

November 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Current.com

Directors Kerthy Fix and Gail O'Hara offer a competent overview of a band. But a viewer unfamiliar with Merritt or the Magnetic Fields comes away with little further insight.

November 2, 2010 Full Review Source: Moving Pictures Magazine | Comment (1)
Moving Pictures Magazine

Of the million potential roads a documentary can take, the narrow, intimate route explored in Strange Powers seems like one of the least economical.

October 31, 2010 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Not only is the film a slog, the main focus is on the band's arguably inferior last decade.

October 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

reveals the nuance behind what for many is yet another undeservedly bitter and resentful musical genius

October 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

A relaxed, enjoyable little documentary whose central figure emerges as a figure rendered in half-precise, half-diffuse pointillist dots

October 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Movieline
Movieline

A decent way to get to know a small group of New York-based musicians who have been performing together since the early 1990s.

October 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

Strange Powers should be a cautionary cultural prognosis. Instead, it's a promotional film.

October 27, 2010 Full Review Source: New York Press | Comment (1)
New York Press

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