The third volume of Palm Pictures’s Directors Label DVD series compiles the shorter works of director Michel Gondry (Human Nature), from his breakthrough video clips to rare short films. Gondry’s clip for Daft Punk’s “Around the World” is a reminder of why the director is such an incredible visual mathematician. A group of Cold War aliens, ‘50s-style swimmers, skeletons, mummified women and statuesque ravers circle each other onstage in this demented video. Gondry keeps things simple—via a series of effortless zooms and overheads timed to the circular choreography, he evokes dance music’s appeal as an ageless global phenomenon. Gondry’s signature algebraic aesthetic is inextricably bound to the music he directs for the screen, and it’s a synthesis that’s remarkably on display throughout “Star Guitar” (The Chemical Brothers), “The Hardest Button to Button” (White Stripes) and his legendary early clip for I Am’s “Le Mia.” If Gondry is a master mathematician, consider him also the king of repetition. “Let Forever Be” (The Chemical Brothers) seemingly imagines life inside a disco ball while the more obscure “Come Into My World” (Kylie Minogue) reimagines Zbigniew’s Rybczynski’s legendary “Tango” for the club kids of the world. But Gondry’s more famous clips lay on the meta thick: Magritte meets Lynch in “Everlong” (Foo Fighters), a surprisingly intimate paean to lucid dreaming; the “visual palindrome” is defined via split-screen for Cibo Matto’s “Sugar Water”; the rigorous, head-trippy “Lucas With the Lid Off” (Lucas) evokes the human mind’s subjective ability to perceive and edit the world around it with as little as a blink of an eye; and in “Bachelorette” (Björk), destiny rewrites itself and words disintegrate, as does the flesh. Other music videos featured here: “Dead Leaves & The Dirty Ground” (The White Stripes), “Fell In Love With A Girl” (The White Stripes), “Joga” (Björk), “Deadweight” (Beck), “Hyperballad” (Björk), “Like A Rolling Stone” (The Rolling Stones), “Army Of Me” (Björk), “Isobel” (Björk), “Protection” (Massive Attack), “Human Behavior” (Björk), “La Tour De Pise” (Jean Francois Coen), “Ma Maison” (Oui Oui), “Bolide” (Oui Oui), “Junior Et Sa Voic D’or” (Oui Oui), “Les Cailloux” (Oui Oui), “Un Joyeux Noel” (Oui Oui) and “La Ville” (Oui Oui).
Interesting. We thought the video transfer of Björk's "It's Oh So Quiet" as it appears on the Directors Label Spike Jonze set was better than the transfer available on Björk's Volumen music video compilation. Not the case here. "Bachelorette" is just one of several videos on this compilation that look as if the color has been sucked out of them, while others fade out to pixilated blackness. If video is uneven, the sound is merely serviceable.
Nearly every artist whose video appeared on Spike Jonze's DVD anthology contributed a commentary track. For Gondry's disc, these commentaries have been combined with behind-the-scenes footage, drawings and storyboards by Gondry, and a lengthy living room exchange between the director and his mother, in order to form a 75-minute documentary titled "I've Been 12 Forever." The creators of this DVD anthology understand Gondry's pathology all too well, and as such they lay out the videos and features on the disc to mirror that madness. Because his newer work appears on Side A, "I've Been 12 Forever" is divided into two parts and covers the director's career in reverse ("I've Been 12 Forever: Part 2 12 - 12" appears on Side A, "I've Been 12 Forever: Part 1 12 - 12" on Side B). In the Stories and Things section of the DVD, you'll find Gondry's short films and commercial work. Most interesting: the lovely pre-millennium poem "La Lettre"; the existential "One Day," which understands that "you can run, but you can't hide" from your fecal matter; "Lacuna Inc" and "Pecan Pie" (essentially plugs for Gondry's film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, though they're not advertised as such); mini-docs "Drumb and Drumber" and "My Brother's 24th Birthday"; and a Oui Oui interview/concert montage. Also included is a nifty fifty-two-page book that includes photographs and drawings and interviews with Gondry.
Some notable clips are missing, but this is a pretty comprehensive overview of music video auteur Michel Gondry's work, from 1987 to 2003.