Anyone looking for some deep insight into the band Arcade Fire from The Reflektor Tapes will be greatly disappointed. That being said, fans of the band will still enjoy this film that is more an art installation piece than a documentary. Shot by music video director Kahlil Joseph, the film mixes footage of Arcade Fire’s last tour with scenes from the vibrant streets of Haiti, where the album Reflektor was recorded. Occasionally there are snippets from interviews with band members that give the images some context, but there’s not much attempt at a narrative.
Perhaps the film can best best be summed up by a quote from Win Butler used in the film: “One of the deep roots of Arcade Fire’s aesthetic is trying to ignore the world and make art just with the people in the room around you.” It feels like Joseph had a similar approach to the film, which is basically an hour long, slightly self indulgent music video done in an aesthetic that matches the album’s collision of pop and abstract.
To see and hear parts of Arcade Fire’s dynamic live show on the big screen is a real treat. It’s extremely visual and could make for a great concert film, but the filmmaker opted for something a little different here that is more of an acquired taste. For me the biggest treat was hearing unreleased songs from the album like “Get Right” and “Crucified Again”. Don’t be surprised if the band releases a deluxe version of the album with those songs and this documentary, which really just feels like bonus content for such a release, not a feature film.
Ultimately, The Reflektor Tapes belongs more in the Wavelengths category of TIFF than the documentary programme, but if it was any other band, I doubt it would in the festival at all.
FRI SEP 18 9:30 PM The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
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