ShowtimeNew four-episode documentarySpector, focusing on the spectacular rise and fall of Phil Spector , the musical pioneer and convicted murderer , is a four-part documentary for Showtime We Need to Talk About Cosby.
It’s so hard to walk a tightrope when you try to explore a disgraced idol– Not just separating art from artists, but finding a clever way to integrate art into the lives of flawed creators.
BOTTOM LINE Fascinating material, inconsistent creative choices.
Air Date: Sunday Nov 6 at 9pm (showtime)1235079050 Directors: 1235079050Sheena M. Joyce and Don Argott
W. Kamau Bell’s opening remarks on Bill Cosby handled the task brilliantly. It’s not aesthetically dynamic, but we need to talk about Cosby Clever and challenging at every turn, forcing viewers to think about the inextricable connection between every aspect of Cosby’s career and his personal life, he was caught by
Alleged Sexual Misconduct+ Female. This documentary highlights what you lose if you only have half the discussion, and it provides the tools and vocabulary to take the discussion beyond the film.
Sheena M. Joyce and Don Argott’s Spector doesn’t deny Phil Spector’s myriad flaws—that It’s hard — and it’s an admirable thing it’s trying to get Lana Clarkson beyond “victim of tragedy.” But this documentary is full of questionable decisions that left me scratching my head and not wanting to be part of any of the challenges involved. Optional talking heads have strange aesthetic choices, structural limitations, and shortcomings. Also, I think the choice of how to end the documentary almost ruined everything that came before.
As a basic historical review goes: Phil Spector reinvented popular music, mostly for the better. Before he became , he wrote countless teen pop songs. He has an iconic production tone and a really cool name – Sound Wall. He started Tina Turner’s career, ended the Beatles’ career, and then produced several of their solo songs. He’s not among the first-round inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (he’ll have to wait until ), But he probably should be.
But Phil Spector is hard. He is domineering and arrogant. He battles various addictions and psychological demons. He became a hermit for decades. Oh, in 1235079050 he was convicted of 2009 murdered actress Lana Clarkson and spent the rest of her life in prison.
These are not “contradictions” that you want or need to reconcile. The documentary begins with a 911 call from Spector’s driver reporting the murder. The first episode skips an examination of Spector’s rise, introduces Clarkson and details about the murder, and breaks the chronology so that no piece of flattery can be let loose without a reminder of the story’s destination.
The documentary has several hours, most of which are spent on old interviews with Spector and conversations with any of his colleagues and artists who would In front of the camera at least partially sings praises to a convicted murderer. It’s not a bad guy, including familiar names like Darlene Love or Paul Shaffer, as well as many singers and session musicians and other producers and songwriters. Plus, Spector’s daughter, Nicole, is an increasingly important interviewee and advisor to the series.
But the last two hours were almost entirely about Clarkson and the trial, which was attention to detail in a non-sensational way that the media struggled to do when it actually happened realized. On the legal front, most important figures were present, including prosecutor Alan Jackson and defense attorney Linda Kenny Bardem. Speaking on Clarkson’s behalf were her mother Donna, six friends, various professionals, and even legendary filmmaker Roger Coleman.
Shreds the then-proliferating “B-movie actress Lana Clarkson” narrative. Lana Clarkson is a working actress in Hollywood and the industry is more to blame than she is if she is portrayed as a slut or a whore of all shades of the world. If over the years “B-movie actress” has essentially become her posthumous name, the media is entirely to blame. In archival interviews, and even in her brilliant reel, Spector’s defenders mocked her at trial, and she came across as down-to-earth, witty, and smart.
However, there isn’t even a hint of irony when the documentary still contains Spector-friendly conversation leaders saying things like “he must be in great pain without his wig in prison” . You’ll hear one of his musicians say “one of us is on trial,” and I just want to say, “Well, no, no.” Likewise, when Shaffer recalls Spector’s loneliness over the past few years when, “I just thought, ‘What a terrible fate for a legend.'”
For me, the responsibility comes from the filmmaker Either choose not to include such mediocrity, or challenge it, no challenge here at all. If anyone is going to claim that the real tragedy of the whole story is that Spector is alone in a cell bald — not the actual life taken — the filmmakers need to ask people directly, “Do you think he’s innocent?” “Otherwise, you’re just allowing delusions and grandiosity. At least Nicole Spector didn’t explicitly defend her father, mostly noting his sincerity for her and her love for him.
The directors didn’t want to excuse him either, but they were more than happy to accept a very simple armchair psychoanalysis that traced everything back to Spector’s father’s suicide, which was The first episode came in the form of a grainy black-and-white re-enactment of silver nitrate. The rest of the series barely has a repeat. I’m generally very against recaps, but I’m even more against inconsistent use of style. If you make a four-hour documentary, the reenactment is either a consistent part of the story you tell, or it isn’t. Here, they definitely aren’t, like there’s no meaningful way to justify all the endless drone footage around the Spector mansion in the first episode, and then never be part of the documentary vocabulary again. The drone footage gave the castle an almost haunted impression, or, if you will, “ghost”, but if the director wanted to make a ghost/ghost connection, they failed.
I’m getting distracted here, but that’s what Spector did to me. It has good points and some of the art material needed to make those points, but not cohesive about how to tell a story or make an argument in four hours. Maybe you’ll be satisfied with provocative stories that are expertly told. Maybe you don’t need cohesion, and maybe you don’t think a documentary aimed at restoring and prioritizing Clarkson’s humanity shouldn’t give Spector and his supporters the final say on almost everything. Unfortunately, the conversation this documentary made me want to have is mostly about a documentary that better tackles a similar task.