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Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell

September 12, 2010

Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell (2008)
Director: Matt Wolf

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Synopsis: The life and work of American musician, Arthur Russell.

ReviewWild Combination is a slight and frustratingly opaque documentary about avant-garde musician, Arthur Russell. The short running time (seventy minutes) stymies the subject matter and its potential to realistically broaden out and elucidate, with the two key areas (the man and his music) being conveyed in a tokenistic fashion. The poignancy of Russell’s very plain and orthodox rural Iowan upbringing, counterbalanced with the bohemianism of his latter New York lifestyle could have made for a fascinating contrast (particularly the grace and humility with which Russell’s parents accepted his metamorphosis), and would no doubt have revealed a lot about the form and the style of his music. That this documentary proves unable to do that is no fault of the filmmaker Matt Wolf, who deserves credit for simply getting this story out there. Let’s hope that Wild Combination proves a useful introduction for curious minds looking to rediscover this very unique American musical life. (December 2008)

One Comment leave one →
  1. Jez permalink
    April 25, 2011 11:06 pm

    Agreed. Directorial marks for effort in bringing a fairly obscure artist further into the public domain, but we don’t end up getting enough perspective on this man’s amazing music…

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