The Fearless Freaks (2005) Poster

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A very real, very honest and heartfelt movie
jamesv-126 February 2005
I really liked this movie a lot. I first learned of The Flaming Lips a couple years ago, when a friend lent me their CD. So, I'm not a huge fan by any means, just someone who likes their music. Before watching the movie, I knew nothing about the band, its members, or their history. This movie changed all that. It's a documentary about the band members as well as the lives of people who are touched in some way by this band. It's a very real, very honest, and a very heartfelt movie. I walked away with much adoration and appreciation of Wayne Coyne not only as a musician and artist, but also as a human being. The guy seems like a genuinely nice person.

In some ways, the story is about a band that has changed and grown over time, just as any of us do in life. Their music reflects this. Seeing the long transformation of the band into what they have become today was fascinating. Like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, we see the band undergo its own metamorphosis. You can actually hear and see the maturity of the band in their song-writing, the mastery of their instruments, and most importantly, in their music.

The movie also provides us a glimpse into Steve Drozd's journey to face his demons. I saw this movie at its world premiere, and the director asked the audience what we thought about the film. Was it too long? No, and actually I wasn't even aware of the time passing, it was that good. What did we think about the "scene" with Steve? I'm glad the director included it.

This movie is a real picture of the band. In many ways, the director, Bradley Beesley, provided us a glimpse into many of the band member's personal lives. We see Wayne confronting the reality of his father's passing. We see Steve confronting the consequences of his drug addiction. As I said, it's a very real film. And it's genuine.

Brad, thank you. You did a great job.
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8/10
Would you want Wayne Coyne as your Neighbor? I would!
pcqgod30 May 2005
'Fearless Freaks' is an excellent documentary that's sure to please longtime fans like myself as well as newer fans, and will probably win them a fair batch of new followers. As 'Watch me Jumpstart' does with Robert Pollard of Guided by Voices, it paints an intimate portrait of head Lip Wayne Coyne as a family man and member of his community. We get plenty of interesting background into Coyne's early family life and nascent artistic aspirations. Interviews with band members, family members, and friends are inter-cut with raw live footage of the group's often very visually fascinating performances. The pace is just right to keep the viewer always entertained and never bored, but not at a breakneck, highly edited MTV-ish pace. My only complaint about the movie is that details on the band's history and specific works by them are rather skimpy. I would have liked to have gotten more details such as Wayne explaining his inspirations for various songs, discussions about their creative process, studio stories, and the like.

Drummer Steven Drozd becomes the other major character in this movie when his addiction to heroin is frankly and almost shockingly discussed and portrayed on film. Without giving too much away, this subplot comes to an apparently happy ending, and the movie concludes on a high note, with The Flaming Lips on stage playing before their enthralled fans, on the verge of another artistic triumph. Here's to The Flaming Lips.
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8/10
A bit slow, but fans of the band will love it
warisill20 April 2005
As a film, Fearless Freaks is too long. Fans of the band probably won't care, though, as they seem willing to venture however far off the beaten path Wayne and the boys want to go. I wouldn't recommend it to the casual viewer, as it contains way too many scenes of the band's personal lives to be interesting to the general public.

I enjoyed it a lot, because it gives lots of insider info on a band that I've loved for over fifteen years. The most interesting part, and the one that most people will cite as the film's centerpiece, concerns Steven Drozd's frank discussion about his heroin addiction. The scene is as chilling as anything you've ever seen, watching Steven cook up a rig full of smack has to be the wildest thing I've seen in a film in years.

There isn't enough concert footage here, but two recent (excellent) shows are featured, Coachella 2004 and the Stubb's show in Austin, TX. I would have enjoyed more scenes of that classic show in Austin TX, mainly because I was there, in the front, and it was the most fun I've ever had at a concert in my life. Their Coachella set (I was there, too) was way too short, mostly consisting of Wayne trying to surf the crowd in a huge bubble (which was totally cool). I think they played four songs before they were rushed off so the Cure could take forever to come on. blah.

The thing I enjoyed most about this film was the insight it gives on what it's like to be a "rock star". Wayne and his wife don't live in a mansion, and their lives seem wonderfully normal. This was refreshing, and it certainly beats the hell out of watching Metallica argue for two hours.

The Flaming Lips have arguably one of the finest albums ever made, The Soft Bulletin (if you can find the vinyl version, get it no matter how much you got to spend). While I don't think this film will open them up to a wider audience, fans of the band won't be disappointed.
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An unusual, fun, human music documentary
runamokprods11 January 2012
A very likable, intimate portrait of the punk rock turned art rock group The Flaming Lips.

A very unusual documentary in that the film was made by a longtime friend of the band members, especially leader Wayne Coyne.

But rather than that leading to a glossy 'these guys are perfect' approach, it leads to a sense of honesty, of humor, of admitting of personal faults (right down to a band member using drugs on camera, and talking in a pretty heartbreaking way about his addiction).

And what's fascinating about this particular group from Oklahoma is that they're wildly creative, while still seeming like nice regular human beings with families, day to day problems, good and bad sides -- unlike what we usually see of rock stars living in Hollywood mansions and hiding from the world.

If there's a problem with the film it's that, for someone like me who doesn't really know the band's music, we see and hear so little of it that sometimes it's hard to fully understand the evolution of their work that's being discussed. So in some ways this film will work best for those who are already fans of the group,

But that said, I still really enjoyed it, found I liked these people, laughed with their funny view of life (the 'reenactment' of the robbery of a 'Long John Silver's' where Wayne once worked is a comic highlight) and even found myself touched by the end.
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8/10
Fearless Freaks is a road map to rock n roll stardom!
MarkWojahn11 May 2009
Fearless Freaks is the story of "the punks finally taking acid" featuring the alternative band, The Flaming Lips. It is a masterful explosion of bizarre rock & roll footage collaged into a documentary form. Each 'Lip' goes into detail how they became part of the group and their personal struggles throughout their years. In a way, the film is a blueprint of how to become a rock star; make music with your friends, film every show, make loud experimental music, use smoke and fire when you lack talent, find a filmmaker to follow you around, crank call record companies, tour , tour , tour and you'll finally make it big. Every Flaming Lip fan and starving rocker will appreciate this fiery saga. Freaks is filmed by their longtime director Brad Beesley(Okie Noodling). It looks deep into their origins in Oklahoma City and is culled from over 400 hours of video footage the 'Lips' had in their archives of early shows, growing up, pictures and show posters. Beesley signed on to follow the band in the early 1990's and made many of their early music videos. Produced by Minnesotans, Rick Fuller and edited by Jolynn Garnes.
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8/10
Grainy, old-school documentary... I dig it
DoctorMuffins6 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The interesting thing about "The Fearless Freaks" is the difference between the style of Brad Beesley's film-making and the production process of the Lips' albums. Wayne Coyne's music is weird, yes-- even chaotic, but it is carefully put together and endlessly tweaked, elevating the raw elements of songwriting (guitar chords, sung melody) into a mesmerizing digital orchestra of sorts. Beesley's documentary, however, is satisfied with gritty, hand-held 16mm footage of (usually) Coyne pontificating. It's odd that such futuristic, unconventional music-making would make such good source material for old-school, back-to-basics film-making. The most interesting part of this documentary, rather than the heroin scene with Steven Drozd, is Wayne revisiting his old Long John Silver's and enlisting two young children to reenact a robbery which launches him into a spiel about the rather un-poetic reality of death. It, like the rest of the film, is an incredible snapshot of some true oddballs in the American music scene.
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9/10
Great intimate film
albob300023 October 2006
This is a wonderful film, and one can tell that it's definitely a labor of love.

I must say that I was disturbed by the drug use scene with Stephen. However, this is because I am a former addict. But I still think it was unnecessary to be so graphic; but he truly shares the perils of heroin addiction in the most real way.

I do wonder how the movie will turn out. I can't believe the amount of energy Wayne possesses toward his projects. I found him to be a great role model (I am an artist myself, and quite lazy by comparison).

Only one more complaint. Like in many documentaries, they will tease you with the beginning of a wonderful song, then speak over it, or cut away. I could have used less talk and more music, since this is what the documentary is ultimately about; well beside their lives and the creative process.

I highly recommend this film. Oh, and yes, it is a bit too long; but it only proves how engaged the filmmaker is in the project.
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7/10
For Fans good, but for non fans worthwhile, very emotional in parts
kdcndw26 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
VH1 Behind The Music catapulted the Rock Documentary to a different level(good or bad is your opinion) However, the structure the VH1 Producers use works wonders: Rebellious teens, start band, Plucked From Obscurity and Poverty by major label. Rise Fall and Rise. Good dramatic arcs

"Fearless Freaks' follows this formula a bit but has different ambitions, and mostly I think it succeeds. But some sloppy storytelling and an excessive running time hurt the film a bit. Still there are moments of pure fascination, emotion and heartache in this one (Spoilers #1) 3 2 1 The heroin addiction scene with Steve mentioned in previous posts becomes a frightening, depressing yet fascinating side note. Even if one views this scene and has never heard the flaming lips. You will be moved. Powerful stuff. Thanks to both Steve and the filmmakers courage to let the audience be moved by this very difficult intimate scene.

However, somewhat like most of the Lips earlier records, the film lacks direction and focus and becomes very vignette like. No real connective glue. Maybe an editing issue?

(Spoiler #2) 3 2 1 Example? one part of the film mentions how band member Steve had some members of this family commit suicide but doesn't come full circle with the story telling. They just drop that fragment. You don't know who...when...where...why. Steve's girlfriend mentions it and the filmmakers just drop the whole thing. Never tie it up. Disappointing.

Example 2 (spoilers) 3 2 1 The film uses these psychedelic montages as breaking points for the story. Come on people. You could have easily come up with a better transition device (I am a video editor by trade so I think I can be critical of this flaw)

When the film doesn't drop the ball and effectively tells the stories of Flaming Lips members' families/relatives/siblings it can compete with any other human interest documentary out there. Truly moving emotional stuff.

So wrapping it up. A good not great film about a soon to be legendary Semi Cult Band. And for music freaks like myself the film features interviews of Gibby of Butthole Surfers, Johnathan Donahue from Mercury Rev, Meg & Jack White, Beck, and some others. Really cool

end kdc
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