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Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields

Dir. Kerthy Fix, Gail O’Hara | 2010 | 85 min

An unprecedentedly intimate study of the indie cult icon, his band, and his prodigious songwriting genius.

Stephin Merritt has been hailed as the Cole Porter of his generation for his memorable melodies, lovelorn lyrics, and wry musical stylings, most famously captured on 69 Love Songs, the magnum opus of his cult indie pop band the Magnetic Fields. Opening a window on an intensely private artist, Strange Powers addresses Merritt's prodigious, polymathic songwriting chops (hailed in the film by Peter Gabriel, Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein, and others); his prickly reputation; and his abiding, symbiotic relationship with bandmate and manager Claudia Gonson. Shot over 10 years, the film celebrates one of the most engaging bodies of work in the contemporary American songbook while painting a quiet, subtle portrait of a restless, innovative artist who is as introverted as he is ambitious, reflecting Merritt's personality and dry humor while crossing lines of admittance to his deeply idiosyncratic creative process that few music films are lucky enough to broach.

Stephin Merritt
The Magnetic Fields
Also Appearing
Claudia Gonson
Carrie Brownstein
Peter Gabriel
Kenny Mellman
Daniel Handler
United States
cult hero
indie pop
New York