The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 13 Critics What's this?

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  • Summary: Legendary pop music genius, record producer Phil Spector created the “wall of sound” behind some of the greatest hits of the ’60s: Be My Baby, He’s a Rebel, Da Doo Ron Ron, You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling, to name just a few. Today he is imprisoned serving 19 yearsto- life for the murder of B-movie actress Lana Clarkson. During his first trial (a hung jury), Spector gives a rare freewheeling interview to Vikram Jayanti, filmed at his castle, seated before the white piano which he bought with John Lennon, for Imagine. He lucidly holds forth on his life and work: his father’s suicide when he was a child; the process through which he achieved his distinctive sound; his friendship with Lennon; and his case that (despite Paul McCartney’s position), he salvaged the Beatles’ album, Let It Be. Then there is Spector’s curious enmity toward Tony Bennett and Buddy Holly (“he got a postage stamp even though he was only in rock ’n’ roll three years”), and a grandiosity that has him likening himself to Bach, da Vinci, Michelangelo and Galileo. And, yes, there is an endless parade of hairstyles and flamboyant outfits. (Film Forum) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 13
  2. Negative: 0 out of 13
  1. Reviewed by: Kevin Lally
    What makes "Ecstasy" essential viewing for any pop-music fan and any student of celebrity pathology is the interview itself. Spector, despite his immodest comparisons of himself to Bach, da Vinci and Galileo, is surprisingly entertaining company, not simply the mad recluse with crazy hair that was his shocking image during the trials.
  2. 83
    Currently serving out a sentence that will likely consume the remainder of his life, Spector turns the interview into a trial on his own terms--one that's gripping, revelatory, and a little self-incriminating.
  3. 80
    To have been in junior high school when rhapsodic fugues of yearning like "Spanish Harlem," "Uptown," or "Be My Baby" first poured from the radio is to have a sensibility, if not a fantasy life, in some way molded by this monster of self-absorption; to see The Agony and the Ecstasy is to be discomfitingly haunted by the specter of that long-ago innocence.
  4. 75
    The film casts Spector in a sympathetic light. You can't help feeling sorry for the tormented genius.
  5. With his wide, hollow eyes, nervous fingers and celebrated big hair, Spector is a haunted-looking figure whose words are always compelling no matter what unexpected dissatisfactions they may reveal.
  6. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Jan 27, 2011
    A fascinating shambles of a documentary - fascinating because its subject is so influential and so deranged, a shambles because its filmmaker can't decide which approach to take and so takes all of them.
  7. Most of its truth (and any irony) is undercut by director Vikram Jayanti's fawning approach.

See all 13 Critic Reviews

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