Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell (2008)
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Critic Reviews for Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell
It's the perfect image for a man whose vivid music appeared to be fighting its way into sharper focus.
A tender, fascinating documentary by Matt Wolf, will delight the cult and instantly convert new members.
Audience Reviews for Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell
I'm always wary of these congratulatory documentaries on eccentric figures, but Wild Combination contains 80 minutes of the most finely paced and beautifully put together material I've ever seen in a music documentary. The filmmakers managed to make a film with the same enigmatic and mysterious qualities of its subject. By splicing in bootleg videos of Russell performances, the film shows us how out of place and special Russell was in this world.
It doesn't really tell you anything that you can't find in a cursory read of any of his biographies available online, and in that sense it's not really much more than a really well-produced episode of vh1's behind the music, but at the same time it's buoyed up by the sheer genius of arthur's music and with some great imagery to go along with it. If you don't know anything about him, this is a great place to start... as for me, I was among the untold throngs of curious record store clerks who were initiated into the world of his genius when that comp on soul jazz records came out back in 2004. after looking up his story that year, it was very clear to see how his art was impacted by a life of isolation, eccentricity, perfectionism, paranoia, disease, tragedy, and fear of success balanced by an obsession with mainstream pop music forms. I think that listening to him for all those years with that in mind made him pop out as even more vulnerable, even more human. Watching this movie was like a refresher course on why I find his recordings so beautiful
too bad it doesn't feature any performances of what is, in my humble opinion, his best song: "lucky star".
A very well made doc about a slightly obscure but worthy subject.
I only know about Arthur Russell because I currently work and live in his hometown of Oskaloosa, IA---but the film made me want to check out his music---which I imagine was one of its goals.
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