Thursday, April 12, 2012

Feature: Music Videos That… Were Directed by Filmmakers

So remember when we said this feature was comin’-ta-getcha every Thursday? We forgot to mention that this excluded last Thursday. Sorry ‘bout that. Our Hallmark ‘forgive me’ cards are in the mail.

But enough groveling! This week’s list was hard to narrow down to just 5 – there are A LOT of creative people who fall into this category. And also Michael Bay. Below are a select few for your viewing pleasure, so do take a moment to procrastinate and somehow make it look like you’re doing work in that office.

1) David Fincher 
music video: “Straight Up”, Paula Abdul (1988)
a recent film: Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
also directed: The Social Network (2010)

Did you know that Paula Abdul videos had actual directing to them? I didn’t. But low and behold, it seems that Mr. Fincher was responsible for this 1980’s gem. Shot in black and white with quick cuts and sexytime dance moves, this video features jumps, hats, Hammer Pants and puffy jackets galore! Oh, and did we mention the guest appearance of none other than Arsenio Hall?! Man, are you in for a "treat"!

Having worked with Fincher before, Ms. Abdul choreographed the entire video all by herself sans a nervous breakdown, and for these efforts, won 4 MTV Video Music Awards. If you watch closely, you can see how much the choreography is echoed in the dramatic basement brawls of 1999’s Fight Club.

The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Paula Abdul. 

2) Michel Gondry
music video: “Everlong”, Foo Fighters (1997)
a recent film: The Green Hornet (2011) [?!]
also directed: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

It is a universal truth that Michel Gondry has directed some kick-ass videos. Shit, there’s even a few compilation DVDs that showcase exactly that. Of all these to choose from, “Everlong” is one of my favorites. Surreal and satirical, Gondry creates this amazing, claustrophobic dream world, inserting the Foo Fighters into a hysterical narrative that they can only escape by waking up. Also, you get to see Taylor Hawkins in drag.

I enjoy the campy, grimy look of this one – the water over the camera lens, the super awesome costume changes. And let’s not forget the many, many times that Dave Grohl gets to bitch slap his enemies with a huge, elephantitis hand. Whatever will the French think of next?

3) Spike Jonze
music video: “Sure Shot”, Beastie Boys (1994)
a recent film: Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
also directed: Being John Malkovich (1999)

Cult classic extraordinaire Spike Jonze is probably one of the coolest guys ever. It seems like he has a part in everything I love: Jackass, Weezer videos, and dancing around to Fat Boy Slim in various shopping malls around the country. Yes, he is all over the place. But as art often imitates life, so is this video.

The casual, no big deal vibe of this camera-worked masterpiece makes it feel like just another afternoon, hanging out in the pool and doing karate chops in formal evening attire. It reminds me of videos my friends used to make in high school, running around the neighborhood, making hilarious faces and trying to not get hit by cars.

4) Simon West
music video: “Never Gonna Give You Up”, Rick Astley (1997)
a recent film: The Mechanic (2011)
also directed: Con Air (1997) [!!]

Who doesn’t love getting Rickrolled? I’m pretty sure Wikipedia summarizes this video best, noting: “a smiling Astley sings and dances to the song in various outfits and venues in west London, sometimes accompanied by backup dancers”. 

Oh, Rick Astley, you ARE wearing various outfits. Something that they don’t vary in? Style.

Not gonna lie, I heart this song. It’s my friend Dan’s favorite go-to during a night of karaoke and is just an all-around crowd pleaser. I also love the fact that Mr. West so obviously cannot help but direct cheesy, over the top eye candy for our consumption. Somewhere, in another dimension’s post-Apocalyptic world, Nic Cage, Jason Statham and Mr. Astley are all sporting suspenders and shoulder pads, whilst walking around yelling, “I’m gonna save the fuckin’ day!” Yep, now that sentence exists.

5) Michael Bay
music video: “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)”, Meat Loaf (1993)
a recent film: Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
also directed: other movies featuring Transformers and explosions

Should-be-Nobel-Peace-Prize-winner Michael Bay has proven himself capable of many things. Along with crushing our childhood dreams and ruining Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for future generations, he has also directed this theatrical video for Meat Loaf. Mr. Bay alludes to fairytales and car chases, making references to classics such as Beauty and the Beast and Phantom of the Opera. And also CSI: Miami.

As with all things Bay, the video is grandiose and overdone, though sometimes looks kinda really cool. I’ve never been able to sit through the whole thing because a) it’s seven minutes long and b) it is really lacking in explosions. While he hasn’t directed a video since 2001, I am hopeful that a Transformers video will be scheduled to drop in the near future, coinciding with the next installment of this film franchise and marking the end of the world.

Phew! What other crazed directors have gracefully leapt to and from the world of music videos? Tell us!

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