Thursday, April 3, 2008

Michel Gondry = genius = past his prime?

Don't get me wrong I have always had a love for Michel Gondry's work, he's without peer and truly a singular vision.

I remember fondly the days of art school at Pratt in the late 90's, back then music videos where still healthy and there was no youtube. These where arguably Gondry's golden years, the years where his best work was produced. His videos fueled my imagination, and I beleived I can do stuff great within my means. Such is the power of inspiration.

Flash forward a decade, and here I am, frustrated by lack of progress. Ideas floating in a sea of unrealized expectations, potential just now beginning it's fruition. Such has the work of Michel Gondry evolved with the times, his influence seen in advertisements and countless other forms of media. The child like wonders of imagination become a touchtone of hip culture, disciples eat this up. I had a chance to interview the man a few years ago, and he struck me as someone completely in the know of his persona yet equally savvy and shy. I took notes, because the mistique of who you appear to be superceedes your reputation. Does that make sense? He struck gold with Eternal sunshine, as good a movie as any this decade. The notoreity gained from that success and the industry finally catching up with is influence seemingly led to his ability to do anything he wanted, when he wanted. And that's when he started to repeat himself.

Take for example a movie like The Science of Sleep. He penned it, a french guy with deep pockets bankrolled it. Sure it was a sweet little movie, but the dialogue so inept and the editing so jagged that it resembled less a movie than a poetic lovefest designed for hipsters. I didn't like the movie, and still don't think he's a good screenwriter. His work is best when there's a strong glue to cement his visual ingenuity, in Eternal Sunshine he had Charlie Kaufman's material, almost impossible to fuck it up.

At this point in the story, it should be noted that I equally admire and loathe what his does, his career is the perfect one anyone aspired in the medium (such as me) would want to have. This business is tough, tougher to start, tougher to stand out. If I sound bitter don't mind me, i'm just rambling.

Then he made Be Kind Rewind and I couldn't sit through the whole thing. It's so haplessly put together that it has no regard for it's audience. Yes the audience. My idea of a good movie is one that no matter how arty it needs to be assesible, it's ideas well intergrated into the storyline. Here I was watching another hip wankfest, and while cute, it confirmed my notions that what was once innovative and full of wonder has now turned into half formed ideas stretched to the running time, and somebody paid for it.

Every great artist worth his salt reaches a point where destiny is seemingly endless, and synonymous with achievement. He's done such great work and influenced a generation of art school pets that mainstream acceptance has given the right to do anything, and people will eat it up. This is the part that I think is a casualty of success, because there's no longer a need to swing for the fences when you're in your confort zone. I wish there was a manual on how to infiltrate the industry and carve out a niche for oneself, the days of conquering the world long gone, now materialized in pragmatic discurstions of what's doable at my second lease.

That's the connective link between Michel Gondry and my aspirations. The fact that at a time one stuck to what he does and kept on going with it, and my being inspired by the same idea in search of what's going to happen. A relationship forged by illusion and reality, personal goals and professional dreams.

Dreams, a motif both illusive and inviting. I continue to be amused, but I think Michel Gondry's starting to suck.

Watch "declare independence" to see what I mean: Genius or past prime?

Bjork's Wanderlust: Risk vs Reward.

Bjork has pulled out all the stops for her new video, "Wanderlust". An epic, visual effects laden extravaganza directed by new kids Encyclopedia Pictura.

Now, it's worth debating the relevancy of such a massive (and expensive) undertaking in today's Youtopia culture. With music videos becoming less and less effective as a means of exposure for an artist, here comes an interesting project by the always risk taking Bjork. The question becomes, is it worth going through the expense and (trouble)? there must be a risk vs reward scenario in these days of tight economics and diminishing returns. The video took an army of technicians almost a year to complete, at a cost of whoknowshowmuch.

Bjork is in a leauge of her own, and she must be applauded for opening her bank account to invest in music videos of this scope, even as her music has become less and less user friendly. She's always taken risks and done her thing, resulting in some of the very best the medium has offered.

I've seen the video and while I admire it's achievements, I don't feel the need to see it again. ALOT of effort when into it's making, yet the end results seem proacted instead of organic. Replay value is limited, therefore I'd clasify it as an art project instead of something designed for mass consumption. That doesn't diminish it's value, but i'm not sure if it enhances it.

Time will tell if it catches on, it's a great video on it's own merits. If it starts dialogue again and people talk about it and see it, then it reconfirms there is still life left in the medium. If it does, it's revival might be restored in this day and age of zero attention spans.

I'm all for it.