Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell

Overview

With his documentary Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell, director Matt Wolf etches out a biographical portrait of avant-garde musician, artist, and disco producer Arthur Russell, who died of AIDS at age 40 in 1992. Though Russell was a classically trained composer and cellist with an almost encyclopedic knowledge of indigenous Indian music, this performer quickly branched off in a more offbeat and unusual direction. The Oskaloosa, IA, native fixated on such counterculture icons as John Cage and ...
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Overview

With his documentary Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell, director Matt Wolf etches out a biographical portrait of avant-garde musician, artist, and disco producer Arthur Russell, who died of AIDS at age 40 in 1992. Though Russell was a classically trained composer and cellist with an almost encyclopedic knowledge of indigenous Indian music, this performer quickly branched off in a more offbeat and unusual direction. The Oskaloosa, IA, native fixated on such counterculture icons as John Cage and Timothy Leary at an early age, then ran away from home during adolescence and joined a Frisco-based Buddhist group. Russell became acquainted and associated with poet Allen Ginsberg, then moved to New York City, where like Cage he established himself as a veritable fixture in the underground music scene and worked as the music director for The Kitchen. By the mid-'70s, Russell began producing prescient disco records in the pre-Gibb days, under colorful pseudonyms such as Indian Ocean and Loose Joints. Unfortunately, he never culled the devoted following that he deserved until about 15 years after his death. Wolf employs a fractured film-essay style throughout the film, intercutting such materials as archival footage, extracts of musical compositions by Russell, and revealing interviews with Russell's family. Thematically, the director uses the tale of Russell's colorful life as a springboard into investigations of broader subjects and themes including gay lifestyles in the early AIDS era, the sociocultural landscape of Manhattan and the cultural underground during the 1970s and '80s, and the importance of staking out new directions in art and music for an innovative mind such as Russell's.
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Special Features

25 mins of archival Arthur Russell performance footage; Allen Ginsberg's mantra at Arthur's memorial; An audiocassette letter from Arthur to his parents; Covers of Arthur Russell's songs by Jens Lekman, Verity Susman of Electrelane, Joel Gibb of the Hidden Cameras, and Arthur's Landing
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/18/2008
  • UPC: 082354004620
  • Original Release: 2008
  • Rating:

  • Source: Plexifilm
  • Region Code: 0
  • Time: 1:11:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Philip Glass Participant
Allen Ginsberg Participant
Bob Blank Participant
Ernie Brooks Participant
Steven Hall Participant
Steve Knutson Participant
Tom Lee Participant
Jens Lekman Participant
Lola Love Participant
Chuck Russell Participant
Emily Russell Participant
Will Socolov Participant
David Toop Participant
Peter Zummo Participant
Technical Credits
Matt Wolf Director, Producer, Screenwriter
Philip Aarons Executive Producer
Shelley Fox Aarons Executive Producer
Phil Buccellato Production Designer
Lance Edmands Editor
Kyle Garner Associate Producer
Ben Howe Producer
Mark Lewin Executive Producer
Jody Lee Lipes Cinematographer
Kyle Martin Producer
Arthur Russell Score Composer
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell
1. The World of Arthur Russell [3:52]
2. Oskaloosa [2:50]
3. Buddhist Bubblegum [2:02]
4. Welcome to New York [3:16]
5. The Kitchen [6:59]
6. Tom Lee [7:50]
7. Disco and Go Bang [2:46]
8. Grownups Are Crazy [6:58]
9. World of Echo [6:51]
10. Good Sport [6:12]
11. Time to Come Home Now [7:52]
12. Love Is Overtaking Me [3:31]
13. Wild Combination [5:31]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell
   Play
   Chapters
   Extras
      Soon to Be Innocent Fun Let's See - Arthur Russell, 1985
      Arthur's Sneakers, 1979
      The San Francisco Cassette, C. 1970
      Calling All Kids - Arthur Russell, 1989
      Allen Ginsberg - A Memorial for Arthur Russell, 1992
      Covers
         A Little Lost - Jens Lekman
         That's Us/Wild Combination - Joel Gibb
         Our Last Night Together - Verity Susman
         The Letter - Arthur's Landing
   Audio
      Dolby Digital 5.1: On/Off
      Dolby Digital Stereo: On/Off
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