SOUNDTRACK—FLAMING LIPS-Christmas on Mars (film & soundtrack) (2008).
I’ve been a fan of the Flaming Lips for a pretty long time. I first heard them with “She Don’t Use Jelly” (a novelty hit from 1993…who would have thought they’d have become so amazing) but I really got into them from the time of The Soft Bulletin (and Zaireeka). Since around this time, Wayne Coyne and the Lips have been working on Christmas on Mars. It is a “home movie” of sorts that the Lips and some special friends made in their home town (and their backyard). They recently released the film on CD/DVD.
The film, based on the snippets I saw and everything I’d heard about it was nothing like what I expected. Christmas on Mars sounds like a cheesy/funny movie about, well, what Martians do for Christmas. And seeing Wayne as a Martian seemed to confirm my suspicion. But rather, what you get is a much less joyful celebration.
The movie is structured around a space station on Mars. There are only a half a dozen or so humans on board, and they are all going slowly crazy from a lack of oxygen. Also on board is a “virgin” mother who is incubating a baby that was born on Mars. One of the crew believes that the fate of the baby will determine the fate of the entire mission.
It is Christmastime on Mars, and there’s going to be a Christmas party. But the Santa freaks out and runs outside just as a Martian walks up to the station. The Martian is “captured” but he serenely walks around the ship, observing, mending and just being there.
There is very little dialogue. There are really far out-trippy images. There are lots of really creepy images (the people who let their baby be in the film were VERY trusting). And there’s lots of vaginal imagery (in whacked out dream sequences) which makes me wonder what kind of MPAA rating this would get.
The film is a little dull at times (especially in the beginning)–although it could have just been that since I didn’t know what I was getting into, I wasn’t in the right mind frame for it…kind of like Eraserhead. But it definitely picks up, and gets rather suspenseful. It’s also nice that some “real” actors are in it, like SNL’s Fred Armisen, AdamGoldberg (!) and Blue’s Clue’s Steve Burns (!!).
What’s most impressive though is the look of the film. From interviews I read, I learned that Wayne was constructing most of the set himself (and that he got to use an abandoned processing plant for many of the scenes). He very wisely films in low light and black and white, (with occasional splashes of supervibrant color) but the sets look really amazing.
The Flaming Lips are usually pretty upbeat and positive. This film is overall pretty dark and negative, although there is always a ray of light shining through it. I’m not going to give away the ending, though.
The CD is the soundtrack to the film. It is not for the casual listener, or even necessarily for the Flaming Lips fan. There’s no lyrics at all. And the score is very befitting of a “lost in space at Christmastime” movie. Unlike the typical Lips’ mood, the soundtrack is quite dark (and short at about half an hour). The overall feel is ambient, but restless ambient. And there’s very little in the way of tunes. That’s not a criticism, as it is a soundtrack to the film, it’s just a warning for those expecting another “Waitin’ for a Superman.” Although I admit it won’t be getting a lot of play in my house.
[READ: December 16, 2008] One Night @ the Call Center
A patron asked me to order Chetan Bhagat’s newest novel for her. In the process, she told me that this novel, One Night @ the Call Center was very funny, and had finally gotten released over here. I don’t always listen to patron suggestions, but for some reason this one stuck with me, so I inter-library loaned it.
As the title suggests, this story is set in a call center, and all the action takes place in one night (with some flashbacks). The characters are six twenty-something Indians living in Delhi. They work for Connections, a call center for an American appliance manufacturer. And their shift is from 10PM-2AM. (more…)
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