Christmas on Mars

After years of waiting to see what Wayne Coyne and the Flaming Lips would come up with, the Info Pusher and I watched Christmas on Mars last night. Here’s her review, shared on her Twitter:

i’ve lived through a war, a near-death pool accident, even “200 motels.” i almost didn’t make it through “christmas on mars.”

We’re friendly people with open minds, both, and so will happily slog through something terrible if it’s by somebody we love, and we would include the Lips in that club. But after a trippy beginning – a great acidy smoosh of abstract moving images that any Floyd fan would enjoy – the movie’s narrative starts, and the film slows to a clunking pace, and stays there. The story’s fine, as a concept, but it’s way more enjoyable when Coyne himself explains it (see bottom of page) than when he shows it, and I imagine it was his gift of gab and general enthusiasm that made this movie fly at all.

There are amazing aspects of this film: that it was made in his backyard, that he built the sets, that he maintained his interest for the 8 or so years it took to make are all incredible feats. The look of it all is great – stark as hell and nice to look at. There’s a ton of weird-ass imagery, with a trippy focus on vaginas, and some good camera trickery.

The truest problem with the thing is the editing; they seem to have included every piece of footage shot. I’m sure that’s not true, but it seems unedited: there are 30 second pauses between every line of dialogue, and they’re made more painful because so much of the dialogue is terrible: “You’re telling me Santa ran out that door?” “Yes sir! Santa ran right out that door.” “Santa?” “Santa.” “Out that door?” “Yes sir – Santa ran out that door.” “You’re telling me -” etc.

Thirty minutes in I was fantasizing about what fans could do with it, once they got the thing into their Macbooks and started playing with it. The Flaming Lips ought to put all of the source files online – the footage, the music – and invite people to do it. I bet that would be a great success, and follow the band’s tendency to interact with their audience rather than perform for them (see the dancers at their shows, the parking garage experiments, the boombox experiments, and the inclusion of brothers and neighbours in this film).

That’s my review: the movie’s not done. But it’s cool. I look forward to seeing the final ten million cuts, the undirector’s edition, coming soon to a youtube near you.


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