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Friday, June 9, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM


Movie Review

"Coachella": Cutting-edge sounds — with little talk

Seattle Times music critic

"Coachella" captures the fun, beauty and excitement of the annual summertime rock festival of the same name, held on the wide green expanse of a polo field surrounded by palm trees and mountains in Indio, Calif.

The film shows the sun-drenched days, purple and gold sunsets and nights bright with laser beams, strings of colored lights and fire-breathing "monsters," like those at the annual desert hippie happening, Burning Man.

But the movie concentrates on what has made Coachella one of the most successful festivals in the world: cutting-edge music.

More than two dozen acts are featured, ranging from established envelope-pushers, like Iggy & the Stooges, Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Pixies, to new ones, including the Arcade Fire, Bright Eyes and the Mars Volta.

Movie review 3 stars

Showtimes and trailer

"Coachella," a documentary with the Flaming Lips, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Pixies, Morrissey, Radiohead, the White Stripes and other musical acts. Directed by Drew Thomas. 115 minutes. Rated R for language. Northwest Film Forum.

Each one gets at least one full song, uninterrupted by the usual cutting away to interviews, backstage shots, etc. So you get Morrissey crawling on the stage and lying on his back while singing the witty, stinging "November Spawned A Monster." You see the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne roll across the outstretched hands of the crowd in a clear plastic bubble, during "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots," and marvel at Björk in yet another ugly, cumbersome dress (like a white garbage bag with a green sash), warbling "All Is Full Of Love."

Some of the best music comes from the lesser-knowns, including rocking hip-hopper Kool Keith and rap group Zero 7. There are some short interviews of concertgoers and entertainers, but they're seldom interesting or informative.

"Coachella" is having its Seattle premiere today through Thursday at Northwest Film Forum. It was released on video April 18, with a bonus DVD of other performances and a photo gallery from the festival's first six years.

Patrick MacDonald: 206-464-2312 or

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company




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