Review: ‘The Fearless Freaks’

Aimed at diehard fans of the Flaming Lips, "The Fearless Freaks" will please devotees without attracting many, if any, new converts. Culled from 15 years of sporadic documentation by filmmaker Bradley Beesley, Coyne's friend and neighbor, surprisingly polished pic is set for token fest and theatrical dates before May 27 DVD release.

Aimed at diehard fans of the Flaming Lips, the experimental post-punk rock band fronted by drolly provocative Wayne Coyne, “The Fearless Freaks” will please devotees without attracting many, if any, new converts. Culled from 15 years of sporadic documentation by filmmaker Bradley Beesley (“Okie Noodling”), Coyne’s friend and Norman, Okla., neighbor, surprisingly polished pic is set for token fest and theatrical dates before May 27 DVD release.

“Freaks” follows Flaming Lips through various break-throughs and breakups, concert tours and domestic misadventures, tracing the group’s evolution from punkish anarchy to theatrical spectacle. Charismatic Coyne tells the most revealing anecdotes — including some that aren’t terribly flattering to himself or his band-mates — and gradually assumes rightful role as “star” of docu. For all the sound and fury of the live performances, however, pic has the most impact during its quietly scary scenes with drummer Steven Drozd, who matter-of-factly discusses his drug addiction while preparing, then savoring, a dose of heroin. The actual image of his shooting up isn’t nearly as disturbing as the blithely casual way he describes his slow, steady tread toward self-destruction. News that Drozd subsequently cleaned up his act brings seriously welcome relief.

The Fearless Freaks

Production

A Shout! Factory release of a Roadside Cinema production. Produced by Rick Fuller. Executive producers, Ryan Dolan, Dan Jagunich. Directed by Bradley Beesley.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Beesley, Mark Miks; editor, Jolynn Garnes. Reviewed at South by Southwest Film Festival (24 Beats Per Second), March 16, 2005. Running time: 98 MIN. Narrator: Bradley Beesley.
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