The Fearless Freaks: The Wonderfully Improbable Story of The Flaming Lips (2005)

To make music for over twenty years, twelve proper records in all, with almost every record better than the last, with the exception of the 1999 opus “The Soft Bulletin” being the best, is an accomplishment reserved for less than a handful of bands in the history of rock. To have chronicled this ascent on film for the duration is an even luckier feat. But for The Flaming Lips, as we get to know them over the course of their career, it couldn’t happen to a nicer and more deserved bunch of guys. And of course, as we know, it is always better to be lucky and good.

Born out of the theoretically cultural dead zone of Oklahoma, the band, which has always been the creative living art project of singer Wayne Coyne, has grown from a noisy psychedelic cacophony to an orchestrally sophisticated pop super group. With an evolving cast of characters including early iterations with Wayne’s brothers and high school chums, to its current line-up featuring the musically gifted multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd who helped lift the band into the musical elite, that story of this band is the story of persistence, creativity and friendship. It is also a tale of remaining modest and appreciative in the face of stardom. Still making their home in Oklahoma, the band seems to have discovered the importance of living in the moment, making personal happiness a priority and sharing this ethos through song.

The story of the band is as uplifting as the music that they create. At its core it is about finding joy and having fun. This struggle wasn’t always easy, as we learn in the film, but eventually passion pays off and for this we, the fans, owe a profound gratitude. In the words of Wayne Coyne himself, “We have had a truly had wonderful and accidental career.”

9.5 out of 10

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Grizzly Man – Dir. Werner Herzog (Timothy Treadwell)

Shy of the melodramatically annoying narration of director Herzog, Grizzly Man is one of those perfect documentaries. The story is just one of those with a distinct beginning, middle and end. Grizzly Man was so thoroughly documented by its protagonist, over almost decade, that at times it almost seems like it might have been a fiendish collaboration between filmmaker and subject. Obviously this wasn’t the case, but what Herzog is able to piece together is the gradual unraveling of a man losing his perspective: a perversely compelling watch.