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

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

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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 famously grumpy Merritt and explores his relationship with Claudia Gonson, his creative collaborator and the band's manager. It paints a portrait of an artist whose music brilliantly holds up a mirror to the fears, joys, and insecurities of his time.

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Critic Reviews for Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt And The Magnetic Fields

All Critics (30) | Top Critics (14)

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.

Full Review… | November 18, 2010
Boston Globe
Top Critic

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."

Full Review… | November 11, 2010
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | November 5, 2010
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

This portrait of the famed indie rock composer-musician is for fans only.

Full Review… | November 1, 2010
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | October 29, 2010
New York Post
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | October 28, 2010
AV Club
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt And The Magnetic Fields

½

in tom waits's "lie to me" there's a verse that ends with, "i have no use for the truth!" this line, more than it's literal meaning in the context of the song, says everything about waits's persona and songwriting process. i have a feeling the same applies to stephin merritt. however, this documentary gets at neither the lie nor the truth but delivers heavily on the completely mundane. for a movie that apparently took 10 years to make, these directors unturned not one stone. it's as if they didn't want to upset their poor hero. what we're left with is a gutless, fan-girl puff piece that delivers all the goods in the trailer. there isn't even that much good live footage. save yourself the trouble and just listen to the records. you'll get way more out of them. this is weak.

Gregory Collins
Gregory Collins

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