Christmas On Mars * * *
Directed by: Wayne Coyne, Bradley Beesley and George Salisbury / 2008
Oklahomans The Flaming Lips are more than a psychedelic rock band, they're an institution, and not just because their lead singer owns several houses on his block surrounded by a large fence. Bands like The Lips just don't make great and weird records they also make movies, and weird ones at that. They make them either at Wayne Coyne's Oklahoma City ghetto art house compound out of rejected oil tankers, trash, styrofoam and blinking lights or in what appears to be abandoned grain silos and factories. Actually, they've only made one official feature film and one band documentary with director/neighbor/friend Bradley Beesley. The many years practice with "Christmas on Mars" gives me hope that they'll crank out more movies, even if they are weird and kind of hard to follow.
Even if I didn't know what was going on half the time, I still found great entertainment and fun in it and that is one of the reasons to follow the creed of The Flaming Lips. Heck, only they can pull off something like this and get away with it to make a comfortable living. I first heard about “Christmas on Mars” many years ago. And every year it was rumored to be finished and released by Christmas time. Actually, filming wrapped up in 2005 and the last three years have been spent in post-production and scoring. Though, it’s well worth the wait I just wish the film could have been shown in more theaters (I believe it was only officially shown at film and music festivals). I had heard it was coming out this year (as every other year), but I had no idea it had until a friend of mine told me he saw the DVD for sale. Maybe I’m just out of the loop these days?
But, last night I got plugged back into the Lips loop and taken on a strange space trip (no drugs included). I can’t really explain it, but to borrow from the source itself, the delightful Wayne Coyne (Lips singer/writer/director/actor), "The story that unfolds is intended to hint at childlike magic within a tragic and realistic situation." I know what I saw wasn't for children or even most adults and it wasn't exactly a realistic situation, for most people. It's also not going to be an instant Christmas classic, unless you're a mega-fan. But, I know what I did see was magical and weird in a Flaming Lips sort of way and for the most part did direct at finding beauty and hope over life's tragedy, a message the band has been singing about for a while now.
If you don't know what takes place at a live performance by The Flaming Lips, just imagine the greatest New Year's Eve party ever mixed with insane visuals, laser pointers, dancing Santas and aliens, hand puppets, strange instruments and Wayne Coyne rolling over the crowd in a giant hamster ball. Yep, The Flaming Lips are unique and special. They enjoy bringing enjoyment. With "Christmas on Mars", just imagine all of that and more curse words and babies and guest appearances by actors Adam Goldberg and Fred Armisena and then toss in a marching band with female body parts for heads rolled into an 86 minute B-Movie quality Sci-Fi flick. It fits pretty well belong fellow uniquely strange and ambitious movies and directors like "The American Astronaut", "The Forbidden Zone", "Eraser Head", "Alien", Ed Wood and Stanley Kubrick…oh, and Wayne Coyne.