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Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell

A somewhat revelatory documentary
By RICHARD BECK  |  October 25, 2008
2.5 2.5 Stars


Get around to it: Belated props to Arthur Russell. By Richard Beck.
Arthur Russell’s music was “out of its time,” says former Modern Lovers bassist Ernie Brooks near the end of Matt Wolf’s documentary. He’s right. Russell’s strange, exquisite music — dance tracks, avant-garde cello-and-voice songs, pop tunes — has been enjoying a renaissance in recent years, but it retains a magical otherworldliness. This makes Wolf’s project an intriguing one. On the one hand, he wants a reconstruction of Russell’s life to explain Russell’s music, and this never happens. The many friends and collaborators who are interviewed think Russell was a weird, gentle genius — which we knew already. On the other hand, Wolf gets to include footage of Russell playing live and in the recording studio, and some of that — especially the grainy footage where he performs a song called “Eli” — is revelatory. There’s no explaining Arthur Russell. It’s best just to listen to his music. I hope Wolf’s documentary will encourage people to do precisely that. 70 minutes | Museum Of Fine Arts: October 30, 31; November 2, 5, 7, 8
  Topics: Reviews , Museum of Fine Arts , Arthur Russell , Arthur Russell ,  More more >
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