perspective clear, Spector seems to use the time to cop a public insanity plea.
Speaking in the midst of a murder trial, Spector comes across as understandably paranoid and defensive. But he also clearly suffers from a persecution complex that extends well beyond the courtroom. Wearing a bizarre wig and a pinstriped suit and comparing himself to the likes of Galileo, Michelangelo, and Bach, he seems like a music-industry Napoleon. He notes every minor slight in his life, from his highschool classmates (referred to as “nothings”), to the fact that Buddy Holly got a postage stamp and he didn’t, to Bill Cosby getting an honorary doctorate while he didn’t. He sneers at Brian Wilson and Paul McCartney and has a strange obsession with Tony Bennett because the crooner got an MTV-driven career revival in the 1980s.
The movie might play out like a documentary version of the final reel of Citizen Kane or There Will Be Blood, with the eccentric millionaire alone in his mansion, were it not for Spector’s music. The joyful odes to youth and longing provide a surreal, circuslike backdrop to this dark portrait of the producer’s golden years and also serve as a testament to a wonderful body of work. Spector offers little in the way of explaining the creative process that enabled him to shape some of the most iconic pop songs of the 20th century, but the generous helpings of performance footage go a long way to showing us how the music reached such a status.
Jayanti also made the curious decision to juxtapose several of Spector’s songs not only with grim trial footage but also with subtitles from music critic Mick Brown, whose words lavish hyperbolic praise on the music itself. The subtitles move quickly, the courtroom footage assumes that you already know a good deal about the case, and the music commands attention. It’s too much information to fully process, but the overall effect, it seems, is to create a “wall of sound and images” that paints an impressionistic portrait of a troubled genius.
Some of the song choices can be provocative, such as the matching