Montreal Film Journal

THE DIRECTORS SERIES (12)


Films

2009
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE 94
[ review ]

2002
ADAPTATION 83
[ review ]

1999
BEING JOHN MALKOVICH 93
[ review ]


Music Videos (selected works)

2010
THE SUBURBS - Arcade Fire 90
[ With "Where the Wild Things Are", Spike Jonze created one of the best films about childhood ever and with this music video, he's perfectly captured the feeling of being a teenager in the suburbs in the mid-1990s... Or is it the near future? Because between the bicycle rides, misdemeanors and romantic foibles, we see glimpses of the "suburban war" Arcade Fire is singing about... Smoke on the horizon, a helicopter flying across the sky, cops and soldiers in the streets, etc. Like all the best music videos, it reflects the lyrics and feel of the song, but without being too literal about it. This is the kind of video you watch over and over, discovering new things about it every time. Bravo. ]

2005
TRIUMPH OF A HEART - Björk 88
[ This is my favorite song off Medulla, and this video is just as great. Björk has rarely looked better, whether she's drinking too much and singing her heart out with a bunch of party people or going back home to her cat husband and having a little dance-off. ]

2000
WEAPON OF CHOICE - Fatboy Slim 85
[ Christopher Walken is always enjoyable, so this is pure joy. Mofo can DANCE! ]

1999
WHAT'S UP, FATLIP? - Fatlip 57
[ Low-budget hip hop video has precious little to offer at first sight beside a clown outfit and dumb pratfalls, but once you've watched the half-hour "What's up, Fatlip?" documentary in which Jonze gets the former Pharcyde MC to pour his heart out, this goofy little video is infused with endless pathos. ]

1998
PRAISE YOU - Fatboy Slim 91
[ This is the ultimate anti-music video, just home video footage of the "Torrance Community Dance Group" performing for of a befuddled crowd in front of a movie theater. This is gloriously lame – every time you think Richard Koufey and his dancers can't come up with more ridiculous moves, they do, oh, do they ever! ]

1997
DA FUNK - Daft Punk 69
[ A walking and talking dog wanders through the "big city nights" while catchy electro music blasts from his boom box. You can already feel the balance of quirkiness and melancholy that would inhabit "Being John Malkovich". ]

1997
ELEKTROBANK - The Chemical Brothers 46
[ Sofia Coppola nearly ruined her father's "Godfather 3" and her own movies are ridiculously overrated, but she's a pretty impressive gymnast – if that's really her doing all these moves. ]

1997
SKY'S THE LIMIT - The Notorious B.I.G. 62
[ Exactly like every other hip hop video (fish-eyed lens, big cars, half-naked babes, bling bling), except that every part is played by little kids! Cute. ]

1995
DROP - The Pharcyde 44
[ The backwards gimmick is OK, but Weird Al did it better in his Amish Paradise video and, as hard as they try, the Pharcyde guys ain't no Beastie Boys. ]

1995
IT'S OH SO QUIET - Björk 90
[ This must have at least in part inspired "Dancer in the Dark", which is priceless, but on its own this homage to Technicolor musicals (and tire shops) is a treat. ]

1995
CALIFORNIA - Wax 61
[ Dude on fire runs in the street, one not-so-long shot, in slow-motion. Pretty basic, but oddly compelling to watch, and the unexpected melancholy little girl at the end is a nice touch that would be echoed in the last shot of "Being John Malkovich". ]

1994
SURE SHOT - The Beastie Boys 64
[ The Beastie Boys are so damn cool and fun that you don't need to do much to make one of their videos entertaining, you can just put them in front of a camera and let them fool around here, as they do here. Good times. ]

1994
IF I ONLY HAD A BRAIN - MC 900ft Jesus 7
[ Half-assed Bloodhound Gang, something about a box, zzz... ]

1994
SABOTAGE - The Beastie Boys 91
[ This is the coolest damn song and the coolest damn video... I've seen this hilarious and exhilarating spoof of cheesy ‘70s cop shows a million times and it still makes me as giddy as the first time. Mustaches, man, mustaches. ]

1994
UNDONE (The Sweater Song) - Weezer 65
[ Aaah... This song might be the most vivid musical memory I have of high school. The video just shows the boys playing in front of a blue screen, which should be boring but, HEY, DOGS!, and that song is just too great. ]

1994
FEEL THE PAIN - Dinosaur Jr. 15
[ There's a fine line between clever and stupid. This golf-themed video is stupid. ]

1994
BUDDY HOLLY - Weezer 83
[ Would Weezer have been such a hit if Spike Jonze hadn't seamlessly integrated them in a Happy Days episode in this wonderful hipster/geek video? Is the Fonz cool? ]

1993
CANNONBALL - The Breeders 50
[ This song is so good, whatever happened to these chicks? The video itself is a bit generic, though, at least by Jonze standards. ]