Cinema Clips: The Reflektor Tapes

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Admittedly, I was a huge Arcade Fire fan after hearing their breakthrough album, Funeral, and seeing their exuberant, festival-stealing performance at first Coachella in 2005. Since then, my enthusiasm waned a bit after seeing them too many times and listening to their subsequent mediocre albums, Neon Bible and The Suburbs. Their very good 2013 album, Reflektor, actually got me a little fired up about them again, so I went into this movie hoping for a reaffirming glimpse of the band as it stands today. This pseudo documentary, which mashes together concert footage snippets with impressionistic shots of the band and overdubs of bandleader Win Butler waxing philosophic, is a total mess. It makes me kind of want to hate the band. The performances (we never see an entire song) sound god awful for the most part, and nobody in the band, especially Butler, has anything interesting to say during the non-musical bits. Director Kahlil Joseph basically shot a ton of footage during the band’s big tour, filmed them in the studio and other various locales, and slapped all of this crap together with no semblance of order or purpose. The result is tedious, and makes the band look like a bunch of pretentious fucks that like themselves a little too much. Mind you, I’ve seen these guys live many times, and while Butler can come off a bit pompous at times, he’s a fun and even gracious live presence, as is the band. This film betrays them in every way possible. (The version of the film I saw contained a postscript with a couple of the band members, including Butler, doing a more traditional interview about the album and film. The bonus footage is MUCH better than the movie itself). 

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