STRANGE POWERS: STEPHIN MERRITT AND THE MAGNETIC FIELDS | Film Reviews | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
Loading...

STRANGE POWERS: STEPHIN MERRITT AND THE MAGNETIC FIELDS 

Thursday, Nov 4 2010
Comments

STRANGE POWERS: STEPHIN MERRITT AND THE MAGNETIC FIELDS Demanding of recognition but ever pushing back at attention, Stephin Merritt is a droopy-eyed Marlon Brando of art pop. A notoriously difficult interview, the singer-songwriter is prone to epic pauses and blank stares, and even his shyness can come across as condescension, which makes him a rough subject for a documentary profile. Yet that dissonance is also what makes Strange Powers, a 10-years-in-the-making record of Merritt and his Magnetic Fields bandmates, so intriguing. A fuller picture of Merritt does come into view, especially in terms of his longtime friendship and musical collaboration with Claudia Gonson, the affable, earthy yang to Merritt's urbane ying. But after a tantalizingly idiosyncratic beginning — Merritt shows off his ukulele collection and instructs Gonson on how to play kitchen whisks as percussion — directors Kerthy Fix and Gail O'Hara proceed with a perfectly fine but disappointingly by-the-numbers rock doc, obliging us with tasteful portions of rehearsals, performances, modest beginnings and major breakthroughs. Ideas arise from the proceedings — about music-making, myth-making and ambition — but the film doesn't pursue them. In the end Merritt remains studiously opaque; he's most present when affecting a self. He writes, sings and performs in character, and remains the Chihuahua-carrying bard of the West Village even after relocating to Hollywood. (Eric Hynes) (Sunset 5)

Related Stories

  • 4 Free Things to Do in L.A. This Week (Plus a Great One for $13)

    Start your weekend off with a two-day festival in Grand Park celebrating Filipino arts, culture and – of course – delicious food. Next, do some soul-searching with multi-artist exhibit "My Self Is an Other." Get some literary laughs with a reading of rhyming two letter words, and if you're looking for...
  • TCM Classic Film Fest: Your Weekly Movie To-Do List

    Friday, April 11 The 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival's second of four days continues its array of amazing oldies. Bright and early at 9 a.m. is Elia Kazan's loose adaptation of John Steinbeck's East of Eden (starring James Dean in his first major role, as Cal), at the Chinese Multiplex 1,...
  • The Best Concerts in L.A. This Week

    Don't forget to check our constantly-updated Los Angeles Concert Calendar Monday, July 8 Future Bible Heroes, et al. ECHOPLEX Future Bible Heroes' new album, Partygoing, sounds a bit like Magnetic Fields. Well, probably because FBH are Magnetic Fields, or about 90 percent of them anyway. Let us explain: Future Bible...
  • 15 Things You Learn in Your First 5 Years in L.A. 86

    L.A. can be tough for transplants. There are the winding freeways to get used to, the hour-plus commutes and the regular appearance of palm trees. For the first year after moving here, many of us find ourselves a bit dazzled by the sunlight, shielding our eyes from it like vampires...
  • 1994 Was Music's Best Year 13

    Was 1994 the best year for pop music in history? Quite possibly.  Sure, some of it was terrible, but overall it was amazing:  Nordic black metal, Britpop, pop punk, trip hop, and the best R&B of the '90s. (Boyz II Men were peaking). Hip-hop's Golden Age was winding down, but a new, arguably...

Related Content

Now Showing

  1. Tue 21
  2. Wed 22
  3. Thu 23
  4. Fri 24
  5. Sat 25
  6. Sun 26
  7. Mon 27

    Find capsule reviews, showtimes & tickets for all films in town.

    Sponsored by Fandor

Box Office Report

Scores provided by Rotten Tomatoes

Join My Voice Nation for free stuff, concert and dining info & more!

Movie Trailers

View all movie trailers >>

Now Trending