29 August 2005

We love you too, Wayne

Stoked. The Flaming Lips promo clip retrospective DVD VOID came out this week. Picked it up along with Fearless Freaks.

The one thing that jumped out at me more than anything else was the universal shittiness of the videos. They're all pretty low budget, but that's no excuse. I mean, they're not terrible, just wholly unremarkable. Not a single one is significantly more interesting than staring at a shiny object while listening to the Flaming Lips. Which is to say, cool, and fun, but nothing I'd be jonesing to do again or, for that matter, recommend to anyone.

They're almost all co-directed by Wayne and the Lips' pretty-much-official visual archivist, one Bradley Beesley (he also directed Freaks, and has been filming the Lips for years), and there's certainly an overarching aesthetic evident. Most of the videos feature chaotically pantomimed performance footage, grainy film, washed-out lighting, jarring edits and often what appears to be drawing and/or etching on the film itself. Again, it's cool to look at, but there's rarely a discernible point, or even a particularly riveting image.

This is a classic example of art without vision, of someone making a video with little more of an idea than "Just make it look fucked-up and it'll be cool." Wrong.

Having said that, I will doubtlessly watch it again many times and, as I did yesterday, probably sing along at high volume.

Also, quick positive note on Beesley: he may be a lousy video director, but he's a fine documentarian. Freaks is extremely well-conceived and executed. Beesley allows a compelling story to tell itself rather than getting in the way as a filmmaker, and the results make for very rewarding viewing. Recommended.

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