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FREAK FLAG STILL FLIES IN CELEBRATORY 'GLASTONBURY'.

Byline: Glenn Whipp

Film Critic

Michael Eavis might not be known on these shores like Max Yasgur, but the English farmer has done Woodstock better many times over, hosting the Glastonbury Festival on his land, more or less continuously, since 1970. The music festival initially attracted 1,500 unwashed hippies. Attendance is now roughly 100 times that, though the love (and music) is no longer free.

Julien Temple's formless documentary "Glastonbury" aims to capture the festival's chaos and free-wheeling freakiness and accomplishes this goal, though a bit too thoroughly for its own good. Repetitive shots of drunk and drugged-out people dressed (or undressed) in crazy costumes wear thin after two hours, and the concert performances -- ranging from Radiohead to Melanie -- don't always pick up the slack.

(Notable exception: Joe Strummer singing "Straight to Hell" and railing against The Man at the 1999 show.)

That's not to say that Temple's purposeful incoherence isn't without interest. Temple sifted through some 700 hours of archival footage, including the 1972 doc "Glastonbury Fayre," shot by Nicolas Roeg, and attended the festival from 2002 to 2005 to add new material. Temple frenetically cut the footage together, throwing out timelines and focusing on the aspects of Glastonbury -- hedonism, hippies, public urination -- that he finds essential.

The interspersed interviews with the bald, bearded Eavis are illuminating, chronicling the festival's evolution from a mud-caked, stone soul picnic to a fenced-in Vegas festooned with Starbucks and Smirnoff logos. Some security was necessary. Eavis took a year off after the 2000 show was marred by riots and dangerous overcrowding and built the infamous fence that now surrounds the farm's perimeter.

"I miss the chaos," one festival-goer laments. "It feels like a sanitized caricature of itself." Recent concert footage includes performances from Coldplay and David Gray, their comforting sounds a far cry from, say, the yawp of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds in the 1990s. But the times, they do a-change, and if Temple seems a bit melancholy about the freak flag flying at half-mast these days, he's keeping a stiff upper lip. "Glastonbury" is a celebration.

Glenn Whipp, (818) 713-3672

glenn.whipp@dailynews.com

GLASTONBURY - Three stars

(R: nudity, sexual content, language, drug use)

Starring: Performances by Coldplay, David Bowie, Joe Strummer.

Director: Julien Temple.

Running time: 2 hr. 18 min.

Playing: Landmark's Nuart Theater in West Los Angeles.

In a nutshell: Documentary about England's long-running freak show/music festival is interesting, if a bit too thorough for its own good.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 23, 2007
Words:411
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