Wednesday, 26 January 2011

"The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector" Review: Grab the Popcorn!

The Mad Genius Speaks

Watching The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector the catchy phrase that will run though your mind is "mad genius". What else can you think of the man who compares his artistry as a producer to such notables as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Bach etc? The thing is, he is an amazing producer, having been credited with inventing the "wall of sound" that distinguished the music he produced from the late 50s to early 70s from other sounds coming out of America. Many, including Brian Wilson, have tried and failed to copy or better his technique.

Did you know Spector wrote Spanish Harlem? I don't know about you, but whenever I think of that song I think of Ben E. King. To me Phil Spector was the guy behind girl groups like, The Crystals (Da Doo Ron Ron) and The Ronettes (Be My Baby). I'm not a huge Beatles fan so I wasn't aware of his work with Lennon, Harrison, nor his production of the Beatles Let it Be album. The scope of Phil's work cannot be summarized in one film, but this documentary does a wondeful job of showing why Spector was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He deserves to be there because of his undeniable talent, even if he is an eccentric personality.

The documentary juxtaposes Spector talking about his career with Vikram Jayanti with footage of his trial for the murder of actress, Lana Clarkson. The style of the documentary suits the split personality of the producer-genius/alledged murderer. Linking the two view points is Spector's songs, played in length so that you understand the scope of his work and the ground-breaking impact of his lyrics. Reviews of his music is also captioned, which is both illuminating and annoying (at moments when you have to choose between reading the captions or listening to the dialogue). I almost envy Vikram Jayanti his interview with Spector. It must have been an amusing and captivating occasion for him.


The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector
by Vikram Jayanti
Run Time: 102 minutes
January 27th - Feb 2nd
TIFF Bell Lightbox
(corner of King and John Streets)

Schedule and Info
http://tinyurl.com/5vjqvs4

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