Archive for July, 2007

YouTube Gondry Enthusiasm

July 29, 2007

“The Director’s Label” continues to intrigue me. Spike Jonze’s near-adolescent charm comes through and the additional materials make you feel him as a real person, his fingerprint is on it. It’s wonderful. I fell inlove with Michel, in part because Björk loves him, so how can I not. But then these sweet French self-effacing somewhat lewd little gems are so irresistable. He makes inventions, like this paint piano Björk plays on.

In Michel’s work there is always the spirit of invention, which so many other videos and commercials have bastardized by cleaning up and making them just flashy. Imperfection is an easier road to wonderment than a Cadillac, y’know what I mean? In the Beck video the highrise view from the window, the radio, the door and Beck’s suitcase alternately become animated robot people.

Massive Attack’s “Protection” is an annoying song, but I love how you break through walls to each new scene. It was Spike Jonze’s description of sets built on walls that made me know I wanted to see the Gondry edition on the Director’s Label.

This 10-minute video was supposedly Gondry’s first internationally released film “La Lettre.” I’m glad to have seen it–everything’s there: low-tech stuff, fixation with time, the order of things, the mechanics/how things work, clock, count-down, chronology, lonely love, l’étranger. It’s a simple lovestory with that “Woody Allen”-ness that Björk refers to in the paint piano video. She mentions his fear that the world will end at any moment and it’s illustrated with a clip of the Eiffel tower crashing which is from this little film.

Last little bits to love: Mermaids for Gondry’s Levi’s commercial don’t look as low-tech as his signature “inside the machine” look, but have a different sort of raw physicality. What reads as an off-colour public service announcement may be a clip from “The Science of Sleep” which I still haven’t seen. Michel is featured in an ad for HP computers and it has a sampler of all his gimmicks and hangups including his vast love for his son. I hate that HP uses the same font from the cover of Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”. And we can’t avoid mentioning the impossibly beautiful, simple-seeming “Star Guitar” video for the Chemical Brothers.

Expand Your Palette — Michel Gondry Musings

July 14, 2007

I never intended for this blog to center around music videos, but I have increasingly found that this short medium is the best example of movement-based art with the potential to reach a wide audience. Advertising does it too, but music videos tend to take larger risks and can be made on a teeny or humongous budget. It’s also the partering of artists, I guess, that enables more interesting work to happen there.

A couple days ago I bought Michel Gondry DVD from the Director’s Label, among other reasons because the Spike Jonze DVD from the same series included an ad for it and because Spike refers repeatedly to his admiration for Michel Gondry. He cites Michel’s habit of conquering a major technical feat in each project, basically pioneering methods for new film techniques. It’s an inspiring anecdote. One of the interviewees on the DVD mentioned that filming with Michel Gondry was like a ritual, that it didn’t feel like other sets. I don’t have much more detail than than but I certainly like the idea…

I have never been on a set where a truly inspired piece of art is underway, but I frequently imagine the sort of language required to communicate difficult concepts, particularly in movement. I did the Nia teacher training because they’d managed to convey abstract movement to many, many non-dancer women over 40 and that is a beautiful thing.

What I wanted to get to regarding Michel Gondry is that some of his videos are sort of…unwatchable. There’s exciting things happening, but perhaps a few too many exciting things. Unless the music-video-watcher is an avid Björk fan I find it hard to imagine that the average television viewer would stay for its entirety. If only he were a little more patient with the average viewer–keep the central themes a little cleaner (moths? car chase? airplanes in lightbulbs, water in a piano? children looking through mirrors? cockroaches on a city map? Björk inside an eyeball?). It’s a mess of images, yes, beautiful brilliant images, and lots to decode with care, but care is not at the forefront of most viewers’ minds.

How can we expand the palette of the average viewer? I want to cultivate a love of that sort of stop-start imagery, the quiet forest-crawling intimacy that is always there, but I want to share a story that can have words in ppls’ heads. Perhaps this is just reinforcing the fact that, as much as I love working with images, I am a literal/verbal thinker and I want a narrative the avg viewer can take away.