being SpikE Jonze: a top 4
Before the indie skate-vid hero Spike Jonze went all Hollywood and award-winning and genre-defying Filmmaker the only awards he was getting were for 3½-minute music clips. STORYTELLING He paid the rent with these MTV-revolutionising pop videos, eschewing the standard dance routine/lip sync format for the delights of the short film. Scratch the surface and you see a careful dissection of middle American popular culture which references everything from the geographical centre of small town life by filming bjork stomping down Main St USA to Hollywood by choreographing a Christian dance troupe outside a movie theater.
OH YEAH In the meantime he was shooting knee-busting throat-cutting (SIC) skater shorts, live action footage and proto-jackass CKY stunts. Skilful.
subjective list/my favourites
1. Daft Punk ‘Da Funk’ (1997/8) in which the track is relegated to a mere hum on a teen-puppy’s beat box. In this miniature snatch of NY street life we learn all we’ll ever need to know about the existential predicament of a teenage New York canine with a love of French disco-pop. As the dog hobbles around the downtown streets on a crutch we see him discriminated against and ostracised, not because of his ostensible bestiality but because of his plastered, crippled foot. Not his most influential work, but the most challenging.
This came later: Roger Sanchez ‘Another Chance’
2. Chemical Brothers ‘Electrobank’ (1997) At the height of big beat Jonze transferred the ‘Dig your own Hole’ filler to soundtrack a tense gymnastics tournament showdown starring Future Wife Sofia Coppola. Will she or won’t she land safely? The Chems make a cameo, briefly glimpsed inside the high school trophy cabinet in a portrait of 2 award-winning basketball jocks. Totally rad and, tragically, scarcely broadcast.
3. Puff Daddy & Family ‘All About the Benjamins’ (Rock Remix feat. Dave Grohl) (1997) an early appearance by a teenage Lil’Kim makes this one worth tracking down. In one fell swoop she transforms from pretty prom queen in pink taffeta to smut-lipped rapper in black leather. What’s a high school prom got to do with Puff Daddy’s dollar-praising business (rap) core? Who cares.
4. Weezer ‘Buddy Holly’ (1995) these weirdo emo geeks constantly belie their miserable image with witty and memorable promos. ‘Happy Days’ have never been so sad.
Others: the Pharcyde ‘Drop’, Sonic Youth ‘100%’, Breeders ‘Cannonball’, Bjork ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’. What have I forgotten? Remind me.