Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt And The Magnetic Fields
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Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt And The Magnetic Fields
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… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"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."
‑ Ty Burr, Boston Globe
"This portrait of the famed indie rock composer-musician is for fans only."
‑ Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter
"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."
‑ Jason Anderson, eye WEEKLY
"A glimpse behind the curtain of creativity that makes a persuasive case for a tip of the cap to artistic enablers."
‑ Brent Simon, Shared Darkness
"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."
‑ Annlee Ellingson, Moving Pictures Magazine
"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.""
‑ Walter V. Addiego, San Francisco Chronicle
"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."
‑ V.A. Musetto, New York Post
""Strange Powers" moves with lightness, verve and charm, which Magnetic Fields fans might find amusing, given Merritt's well-known morosity."
‑ Shawn Levy, Oregonian
"For my part, I knew nothing about The Magnetic Fields before seeing the movie. I came out interested in hearing more of their discography."
‑ Jim Slotek, Jam! Movies
"Of the million potential roads a documentary can take, the narrow, intimate route explored in Strange Powers seems like one of the least economical."
‑ Jesse Cataldo, Slant Magazine
"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."
‑ Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
"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."
‑ Noel Murray, AV Club
"A most satisfying portrait of the artist as a middle-aged curmudgeon."
‑ Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid
"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."
‑ Kurt Loder,
"Not only is the film a slog, the main focus is on the band's arguably inferior last decade."
‑ Vadim Rizov, Boxoffice Magazine