Screened as part of NZIFF 2004
Spike Jonze was born Adam Spiegel in 1969 and first rose to prominence within the Californian skateboarding subculture in the late 1980s. His skateboarding films led to the creation of ultra-low-budget videos for local bands, and as his proficiency and range increased, so did his profile, leading to work with the Beastie Boys, The Breeders, Björk, The Chemical Brothers and Weezer.
Jonze’s music video output has been extremely diverse, ranging from experimental effects-driven films (The Pharcyde’s reverse-motion ‘Drop’, the indelible slo-mo man-on-fire video for Wax’s ‘California’), through trashy parodies (the immortal ‘Sabotage’, for the Beastie Boys, Weezer’s Happy Days homage ‘Buddy Holly’) to completely unexpected films that take the music video form into unexplored areas (the Torrance Community Dance Group collaboration ‘Praise You’, and Big City Nights, the short narrative film that, almost incidentally, doubles as the video for Daft Punk’s ‘Da Funk’).
In the course of his music video career he also demonstrated an affection for classic Hollywood forms (notably the musical, evoked in both ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ and ‘Weapon of Choice’) and an impressive facility with relatively straightforward narratives. Big City Nights is an effective short film with a persuasive sense of character, and ‘Elektrobank’ (starring then-partner Sofia Coppola) condenses a feature’s worth of teenage melodrama into a few compelling minutes. Jonze’s two feature films to date, Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, combine those storytelling skills with the smart-alecky self-referentiality of his more playful videos.
This programme of films sidesteps his better-known music videos in favour of various underexposed side-projects: a documentary following the aftermath of one of his most famous videos, a celebrity commentary on another, videos that were banned, and one that was never made in the first place. — Andrew Langridge
Big Train – Mike Watt (1995, 3 mins), Five Stop Mother Superior Rain – The Flaming Lips (1995, 6 mins), The Oasis Video That Never Happened (1997, 6 mins), Torrance Rises (1999, 34 mins), Weapon of Choice – Fatboy Slim (2000, 4 mins)