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Flaming Lips frontman and professional weirdo Wayne Coyne introduced a new feature film at Austin’s Alamo theater on Wednesday.
The singer prefaced the South By Southwest premiere of the movie, aptly titled A Year In The Life Of Wayne’s Phone, by saying he wanted to talk about it before it started because he was unsure whether anyone would be there when it finished.
The theater did shed a fair number of attendees during the screening of the movie, which is exactly what it purports to be — nearly every iPhone video captured by Coyne over a year, shown in barely-cohesive fashion, with zero rhyme or reason.
As a look into the mind of a creative iconoclast, it’s fascinating, at least for the first five minutes. Videos are shown in rapid-fire succession, three to the screen at a time, with audio mixed between them and most clips clocking in at less than a minute. It’s as nausea-inducing and ADD-rattling as it sounds: On one part of the screen, Coyne is crowd-surfing over a rapturous audience; on the next, a cat is wrestling a dog; on another, a man is being interviewed about drug use. And it’s all happening at the same time. The project is an exercise in concentration, a commentary on short attention spans, and, ultimately, a frustrating exercise in creativity.
That’s not to say there aren’t segments that are fascinating. Lips fans, especially, will love seeing Coyne with his famous friends (Yoko Ono, Ke$ha and Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo among them). There’s also a prolonged segment involving a gelatin-stuffed skull. The outcome became a notorious publicity stunt: an edible (barely, as we see) case encapsulating a USB drive that the Lips issued unreleased songs on.
Coyne did return for a Q&A at the end, fielding mostly fanboy questions that ranged from queries about the three-frame structure of the movie (Coyne, predictably, liked the idea of the randomness and the watchable unwatchability of the form) to one about whether he still considers the soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz one of the great records of all time (short answer: yes.) He also mentioned that he’d only watched the movie all the way through one time, leaving some to wonder if the same was true for Year in the Life.
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