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Generally favorable reviews - based on 18 Critics What's this?

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  • Summary: Strange Powers is an intimate portrait of songwriter Stephin Merrit and his band, the Magnetic Fields. (Variance Films)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18
  1. Reviewed by: Noel Murray
    Oct 28, 2010
    83
    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.
  2. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Oct 26, 2010
    80
    A smart, sophisticated songsmith in the tradition of Cole Porter, or an inscrutable, pretentious twit? In the course of his near-20-year career, Stephin Merritt - the sort-of frontperson for the indie-rock collective Magnetic Fields - has been considered both.
  3. Reviewed by: Walter Addiego
    Dec 11, 2010
    75
    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."
  4. Reviewed by: Eric Hynes
    Oct 26, 2010
    70
    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.
  5. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Oct 27, 2010
    67
    The affectionate, bemused, structurally unkempt portrait is at its best capturing Merritt's close collaboration with his longtime friend and bandmate Claudia Gonson.
  6. 60
    As in his pithy, tuneful songs-many written from different perspectives, in different styles-Merritt is committed to stylizing his misery instead of boring you with it.
  7. Reviewed by: David Fear
    Oct 26, 2010
    40
    Strange Powers works best when inadvertently capturing the toll of living in the shadow of a genius. When it comes to examining the genius himself, it's woefully out of tune.

See all 18 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 3
  2. Negative: 1 out of 3
  1. Oct 27, 2010
    10
    10 out of 10.
    I have never seen a movie like this before, from the first scenes, which sizzle with authenticity, to the last, dripping with
    bathos, this film amazed me. Ostensibly a biopic about a semi-successful musician named Stephen Merritt, it traverses the range of human experience, from the expectant wonder of youth to the dashed hopes of middle age.
    It captures the rock milieu so convincingly, it plays like a documentary. I see a lot of movies, so many that sometimes I'm not sure of the titles or subject matter a day later, but I will never forget this one.
    Collapse
  2. Oct 27, 2010
    5
    I wasn't too impressed with this one. It's just not original enough. It reminds me of another movie - the name of which escapes me right now - which dealt with a similar subject (musician's life story) but that one was much better. See this only if you really love rock music. Expand
  3. Oct 27, 2010
    0
    Give it a miss. The sort of thing we've seen before. I've seen at least two other movies recently that dealt with almost exactly the same subject, but they were both much better than this. This would have been much better suited to the documentary format. Expand