Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt And The Magnetic Fields

2010

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

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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 (31) | 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.

Nov 18, 2010 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
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."

Nov 11, 2010 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

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.

Nov 5, 2010 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

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

Nov 1, 2010 | Full Review…

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.

Oct 29, 2010 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

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.

Oct 28, 2010 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…
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