You’ll wig out over The Agony And The Ecstasy Of Phil Spector.
THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY OF PHIL SPECTOR directed by Vikram Jayanti. A TIFF presentation. 102 minutes. Opens Thursday, January 27 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. For movie times, theatres, and trailers see Movies. Rating: NNN
How do you make a documentary about the murder charge that ended Phil Spector's legendary career without passing judgment on his guilt or innocence? Vikram Jayanti does just that, letting Spector speak directly to the camera and intercutting the producer's self-aggrandizing, paranoid stories with footage from his first trial, with Spector's pop hits serving as the trial's soundtrack.
It's a deliberately frustrating tactic, since Jayanti chooses not to call Spector on any of his obviously delusional tales of personal grudges and professional slights (he even lets Spector get away with his claim that his famous wigs are his own meticulously teased hair), and that's sure to infuriate anyone hoping for a straight-up look at either Spector's career or his murder trials.
I can't fully dismiss it, though, because Jayanti does for Spector what James Toback does for Mike Tyson in his doc Tyson: peels back layer after layer of privilege and disconnection to reveal the self-deluded man within. Spector may be a paranoid loon with blood on his hands, but he's also a fascinating, tragic case study in splendid isolation. I love his music, and I couldn't look away.