Michel Gondry

Films
2013
L’ÉCUME DES JOURS

IS THE MAN WHO IS TALL HAPPY?: AN ANIMATED CONVERSATION WITH NOAM CHOMSKY

2012
THE WE AND THE I

2011
THE GREEN HORNET 72
[ review ]

2009
L’ÉPINE DANS LE COEUR

2008
BE KIND REWIND 40
[ With “La Science des rêves”, Michel Gondry made his most personal film, finally shooting in France again and putting his wild imagination and his love of artisanal visual effects more to the forefront than ever. “Be Kind Rewind”, while not devoid of those qualities, appears more than anything like a not that distinctive Hollywood comedy. In fact, it’s practically a sweded version of “UHF”. Like in that Weird Al Yankovic movie, we follow a bunch of losers (Jack Black and Mos Def) who, to save a family business (here a video store), start making homemade productions which, while shoddy, possess a certain charm which is embraced by a large audience. This premise should actually have been perfect for Gondry, if he’d just used it as an excuse to create a series of funny little vignettes. Alas, the sweded versions of flicks like “Ghostbusters” and “RoboCop” take up a relatively small portion of the film – you’ve seen practically all the best bits already in the trailer. The rest of the (bloated) running time is devoted to the laborious setup of how the tapes in the video store end up being erased, to a subplot about legendary jazzman Fats Waller and to a lot of scenery-chewing by Black, who can be hilarious but isn’t given much to work here. It’s almost like “Be Kind Rewind” in itself is a sweded movie, i.e. voluntarily botched and naïve. This gives the whole thing kind of a sympathetic vibe, like it’s just a bunch of friends goofing off with a camera, but even Gondry’s biggest fans will have to admit that this is a minor work. Not as awful as “Human Nature”, mind, but still pretty forgettable. ]

2006
LA SCIENCE DES RÊVES 79
[ review ]

DAVE CHAPPELLE’S BLOCK PARTY 82
[ Kick-ass performances from hip hop luminaries such as Kanye West, Mos Def and even the reunited Fugees, hilarious bits by Chappelle (“Hit me!”) and a whole lotta positive energy. Gondry doesn’t actually put much of an auteur print on this, but he doesn’t have to, what’s on screen is entertaining enough. ]

2004
ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND 94
[ review ]

2002
HUMAN NATURE 21
[ How can the same writer and the same director create an all-out masterpiece in one case and an utter misfire in another? Whereas Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry’s warped minds perfectly fused through “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” into a film that’s funny, moving and thought-provoking, their earlier “Human Nature” is all WACKY! ideas for the sake of WACKY! ideas. Patricia Arquette covered with fur, Tim Robbins teaching mice table manners, Rhys Ifans as a dude raised as an ape… Might sound amusing, but it’s not. ]

Music Videos

2007
DANCE TONIGHT – Paul McCartney 66
[ Paul playing mandolin, Natalie Portman as a ghost, and Gareth Keenan! ]

2005
HEARD ‘EM SAY – Kanye West 64
[ Kids playing around Macy’s at night, stop-motion ahoy. Nice video, most notable for how great the song is. ]

THE DENIAL TWIST – The White Stripes 73
[ More mind-bugging visual trickery, weird shifts in perspective – and Conan O’Brien! ]

2003
THE HARDEST BUTTON TO BUTTON – The White Stripes 70
[ Every time Meg hits the bass drum, she “teleports” to a new drum kit next to the first one, and on and on up streets, down stairs, in the subway… I don’t know what’s more baffling, how Gondry gets all these crazy ideas or how he actually manages to bring them to life? ]

2002
DEAD LEAVES & THE DIRTY GROUND – The White Stripes 60
[ Images of happier times are projected on the walls of Jack’s empty house like so many ghosts. ]

FELL IN LOVE WITH A GIRL – The White Stripes 65
[ Legos! ]

COME INTO MY WORLD – Kylie Minogue 72
[ A single shot of Kylie walking around a busy street corner. Big deal, right? Well, when a second Kylie joins her, then a third and a fourth, this does become a big, dazzling deal! ]

2001
STAR GUITAR – The Chemical Brothers 62
[ The view from a moving train follows the beat and feel of the song. Doesn’t sound like much, but this is oddly captivating. ]

1999
LET FOREVER BE – The Chemical Brothers 84
[ One of Gondry’s trippiest videos, with ever confusing shifts of perspective as a dancing girl multiplies and morphs back into one over and over, with a camera that seems to be everywhere at once. ]

1997
EVERLONG – Foo Fighters 70
[ A punk rock Evil Dead dream within a dream, with giant kung fu grip action! Funny. ]

DEADWEIGHT – Beck 68
[ Beck plays a Bizarro guy who works on the beach and vacations in an office and, in one of the most clever music video / movie tie-ins I’ve seen, actions and props around him are echoed in clips from Danny Boyle’s “A life less ordinary”. ]

AROUND THE WORLD – Daft Punk 69
[ Busby Berkeley on acid, with dancing swimsuit girls, skeletons, space invaders, mummies… No midgets, alas. ]

JOGA – Björk 61
[ Emotional landscapes. Indeed. ]

BACHELORETE – Björk 76
[ Björk plays a woman in the forest who finds a book that writes itself, about a woman in the forest who finds a book that writes itself then takes it to the city to have it published and falls in love with her editor, so she takes it to the city to have it published and falls in love with her editor. Then the book is adapted into a play about how it was found, published and adapted into a play, which leads to a play-within-a-play, then a play-within-a-play- within-a-play… Man, Gondry was doing Charlie Kaufman-style mind-trips before we even knew who Charlie Kaufman was! ]

1996
SUGAR WATER – Cibo Matto 74
[ Whoa. Split screen. One half in reverse, the other going forward, until midway through when both sides collide and we see the reverse side going forward and the forward side in reverse. Whoa. ]

HYPERBALLAD – Björk 58
[ An odd mix of projections, superimposition, light show and video game. ]

1995
ARMY OF ME – Björk 71
[ A Tank Girl, a gorilla dentist, a giant diamond, a museum explosion to wake up the boyfriend… Curiouser and curiouser. ]

ISOBEL – Björk 53
[ This B&W video is sorta imaginative and pretty, but not particularly memorable by Gondry standards. ]

LIKE A ROLLING STONE – The Rolling Stones 85
[ Pre-Matrix “bullet-time”, with a sloshed twist. Patricia Arquette’s sloshed too, but she looks gorgeous anyway. And then there’s Mick, Keith and the others, clearly enthusiastic about performing this Dylan cover. Good times. ]

PROTECTION – Massive Attack 56
[ I like the bright colors and the thing with the windows is neat, but the video lacks a certain je ne sais quoi that might have made it spark. ]

1994
LUCAS WITH THE LID OFF – Lucas 52
[ Frames, screens and windows “sample” moments of life, just as the song samples vocals and riffs. Alright. ]

1993
HUMAN BEHAVIOR – Björk 80
[ A quirky storybook tale starring a stuffed bear, stop-motion moths and Björk as the most adorable astronaut in the world. ]

JE DANSE LE MIA – Iam 77
[ This is one cool video. The song itself is catchy as hell, French hip hop with a definite old school vibe, and the video is full of hilarious ‘80s touches (“La main sur le volan – avec la moquette!” ]. On top of that you’ve got the camera always zooming in and out and making surprising transitions. Très cool. ]

LA TOUR DE PISE – Jean-François Coen 75
[ Brilliant use of split-screen and neon signs and billboards to spell out the lyrics of the song, and with a moody feel, too. ]

1988-1992
BOLIDE, JUNIOR, JOYEUX NOËL, LES CAILLOUX, MA MAISON, LA VILLE – Oui Oui
[ Goofy little tunes, goofy little videos… Not of much interest, beside to see Gondry honing his skills. ]