Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Work of Directors: First Impressions

Today I got the box set of the four new DVDs from the Work of Directors series, DVD collections that contain the music videos by a certain director. The original three (Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry and Chris Cunningham) have been some of my most played DVDs, and Gondry's in particular has some awe inspiring videos. And now there's four more. I've only had a chance to look at a couple of videos on each, but here's my thoughts on them.

From what I've seen so far, Mark Romanek seems to be the standout in the collection. He directed the film One Hour Photo, which was good, but his strength seems to be in his ability to change styles to adapt to whoever he's doing the video for. I'd already seen his video Johnny Cash's cover of Hurt, and it's one of the most emotionally affecting videos I've ever seen, very powerful images. For the first time, I watched No Doubt's Hella Good, a song I love, and it has a very cool video. It's washed out black and white with the band going around an abandoned ship. The oversaturation of the image maes for some striking visuals.

Then I checked out Jay-Z's 99 Problems, another video I'd seen before and loved. I love the rhythm in the editing, and the intercutting of still and moving shots, particularly in the breakdown sequence with all the dancers, as well as the Rick Rubin appearances. Next was Fiona Apple's Criminal. I knew the song, but not the video, and it's one of the best I've seen, capturing this porn vibe. Apple was apparently only nineteen when this was shot, and she looks a lot younger, the video plays on the idea of her as a sexually abused child, or at least a girl who's in a relationship with an older man. It's slightly disturbing, but the atmosphere of the video is so unique, I deeply respect it.

Next up was Stephane Sednaoui. I only watched two videos from him. First was U2's Discotheque. I love the song, but I'd never seen the video. U2's videos usually aren't that good, but this one was the exception. It takes place inside a disco ball and has all kinds of crazy imagery, vivid colors and a lot of quick cutting. It's very cool. I also watched The Red Hot Chili Peppers' Give It Away, which was ok, it's got some cool stuff, but was ultimately a bit too long.

I followed this up with one video from Jonathan Glazer. He's only got eight videos on the disk, and I've already seen most of them. I rewatched Radiohead's Karma Police, a very cool video for a great song. The way he builds the car into a living thing is great.

Then I rounded things out with Anton Corbijn. So far, I'm not a big fan of his. The video for U2's One wasn't too interesting, a bunch of black and white photography of the band dressed as women. It didn't capture the scope of the song. Then I watched the video for U2's Electrical Storm, which had the exact same visual style as One. He loves the slightly grainy black and white stuff. It's a great song, and there's some cool stuff in the video, but on the whole it's not that great. After that was Depeche Mode's Enjoy the Silence, which was a pretty cool video, but another one that was a bit too long for what it should have been.

So, on the whole these disks are pretty solid. No one's on the level of Gondry, but there's certainly a lot worth watching.

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