Music Video of the Day: Star Guitar by The Chemical Brothers (2001, dir by Michel Gondry and Olivier Gondry)

I love trains.

Well, to be honest, I love trains in Europe.  One of my fondest memories of Italy was riding the train to Venice.  And, when Jeff and I were in the UK last year, I discovered that I absolutely loved the London underground.  Everyone told me that I wouldn’t but I did.  Of course, I also usually took a Dramamine or two before boarding so I was often kind of out of it.

Outside of the DART train in Dallas, I’ve never really spent any time on any trains in the United States.  To be honest, I’m always a little bit shocked to discover that Amtrak is actually a thing.  A few years ago, I read an article where someone was complaining that people in the South and the Midwest don’t ever use Amtrak and, as a result, we don’t ever elect politicians who understand the importance of funding the trains.  To be honest, down here, we really don’t care about Amtrak.  We all own cars and we know where the highways are so we don’t need the trains.

As for this video, Michel Gondry put it together from footage that he shot while riding ten different trains across France.  Gondry carefully edited the footage so that, while appearing like a seamless journey, the landscape changes in time to the music.  It creates a wonderfully dream-lie and surreal atmosphere, one that reminds me of Gondry’s later work on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.


Music Video of the Day: Got To Keep On by The Chemical Brothers (2019, dir by Michel Gondry and Olivier Gondry)

A new music video from The Chemical Brothers?

One that’s directed by Michel Gondry?

One that features a lot of dancing?

Of course, I love it!

That said, the video starts out so exuberantly but then it takes a bit off a strange turn about halfway through, which really shouldn’t be a shock considering that we’re talking about Gondry and The Chemical Brothers here.  While I wouldn’t go as far as to call it body horror (because no one appears to be particularly horrified), it still definitely feels as if our dancers taken a trip into the world of David Cronenberg.  Fortunately, things work out in the end.  They always do.

As I stated above, this video was directed by Michel Gondry, who will always have a place in the hearts of most cineastes for directing Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.


Music Video of the Day: Human Behavior by Bjork (1993, dir by Michel Gondry)

A video featuring a human-sized toy bear beating up a hunter?

The question isn’t why wouldn’t I share this video.  The question is why haven’t I shared this video yet?

The song, of course, is a look at human behavior through the eyes of an animal.  Bjork had the following to say about the idea behind the video:

“Human Behaviour is an animal’s point of view on humans. And the animals are definitely supposed to win in the end. So why, one might ask, is the conquering bear presented as a man-made toy? I don’t know. I guess I just didn’t think it would be fair to force an animal to act in a video. I mean, that would be an extension of what I’m against.”

This was the first video on which Michel Gondry and Bjork collaborated.  (Gondry, of course, would later direct Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind.)  Gondry had the following to say about the video:

“When we did our first video, for “Human Behaviour”, I was thinking: “Great, we’re going to Iceland and we’re going to shoot a lot of great landscape.” And she [Björk] said no – she had a similar idea as my friend Etienne in Oui Oui, she wanted to use animals to reflect human nature. And it was great, because as soon as she started to throw some ideas, they started to bounce in my mind and imagination and I immediately came back with other ideas, and we did a video that was very collaborative. “

So, there you have it.  The animals always win in the end.


Music Video of The Day: Like A Rolling Stone, covered by The Rolling Stones (1995, dir by Michel Gondry)

How does it feel….

Needless to say, this song was not originally recorded by The Rolling Stones.  Despite what the title has led some people to assume, the song actually has nothing to do with the Rolling Stones.  Instead, the song was written by Bob Dylan.  It’s long been debated just who exactly Dylan was addressing in the lyrics.  Some people think that Dylan was writing about Edie Sedgwick.  Grace Zabriskie, who is probably best known for playing Sarah Palmer on Twin Peaks, has long claimed that she was the one who inspired the song.  It would appear that only Bob Dylan knows for sure and it’s reasonable to assume that he’ll never tell.

Regardless, I really like this song.  A part of it is because I relate to the lyrics.  I almost feel like they could have been written about me at a certain time in my life.  The other reason I love the song is because the taunting tone of the lyrics makes them perfect whenever you’re looking for something to say to someone who you dislike.  For example, someone once unfollowed me on twitter and I responded by tweeting the lyrics of this song at her until she finally deleted her account.  That was fun.

Anyway, it seemed somewhat inevitable that this song would be covered by The Rolling Stones.  This video, which was directed by the prolific Michel Gondry, follows a young woman as she discovers how it feels to be a complete unknown.  The woman in the video is played by future Oscar-winner Patricia Arquette.


Music Video of the Day: Feel It by Neneh Cherry (1997, dir. Michel Gondry)

Seeing as today is International Women’s Day, I thought I would take that as an opportunity to spotlight the Neneh Cherry music video she did with Michel Gondry. I already did Heart, which she did with David Fincher. Since Cherry happens to be from Sweden, it works into the “International” part of the day and the ABBA retrospective I’ve been doing.

It’s exactly what you would expect from Gondry–distortion of time and space. Also, notice how Gondry not only uses the color of her jacket as an indicator of where she is in far shots, but shows up as the color of cars and other things as well. Take a look at the text on the “TV FOR DOGS” box. It says “No Crap Programs”, “Look Reel [possibly Real]”, and “For A Dog Vision”.

François Nemeta was the assistant director. He worked on around 13 music videos with Gondry and has done 20+ music videos himself. The most recent one I can find is from 2014, so I assume he is still in the business. You can visit his website here.


Music Video of the Day: Let Forever Be by The Chemical Brothers (1999, dir. Michel Gondry)

I recently decided to pin a tweet to my account saying I’ll take requests for music videos to do here. Lisa jumped on it in short order. Of her requests, I decided to go with this one first.

I was originally planning to go back and try to put this music video in some context, but I have a bad habit of biting off more than I can chew. If I were really to do that, then I would probably be going back at least as far as 1978, if not back to the 1960s. Forget that, I’ll get to those music videos in time. You don’t have to know anything about where elements of this music video come from to enjoy it.

The Chemical Brothers were probably my first introduction to this style of music. It never really stuck with me. I remember there being some show on MTV that generated screensaver-like patterns to songs such as Block Rockin’ Beats. That was enjoyable to catch late at night. But like I said, this genre of music never really became a thing for me.

I like the song, but it’s the music video that interests me. I won’t lie. I took one look at the thumbnail for the music video, and thought of Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush. Then I hit Michel Gondry’s IMVDb page and a few music videos caught my eye. He has done some for Björk because of course he has. Two other music videos that jumped out at me were Blow Me Down by Mark Curry and Les Jupes by RoBERT.

There’s a constant theme of distortion of reality in Gondry’s work. For example, you can see this in 1995’s Like A Rolling Stone by The Rolling Stones. You can see the spinning of reality to reveal fantasy in his version of Sheryl Crow’s A Change Would Do You Good where it’s a viewfinder rather than something you would expect in a musical. You can see the clock in Feel It by Neneh Cherry. Another interesting one to look at is Hou! Mama Mia by Les Negresses Vertes.

You can go on and on here piecing this music video together from Gondry’s previous work, but I won’t. To really do it justice would require doing a full retrospective of Gondry’s music videos.

You can go through and interpret the video. I’ll leave that to you. Gondry doesn’t make it cryptic. My favorite part is the television test pattern. I like how the clock is normal at the start when she wakes, blank when she goes to sleep, and giant when she buries herself under her covers at the end. The hour hand does a horizontal flip between the way it is shown at the start as opposed to the end. Also, the blank clock has the drum set on top of it that progressively moves from the sidewalk across the street to being in her apartment.

Just enjoy it! I did. Thank you for the recommendation, Lisa. Someday I’ll get around to going through all of Gondry’s work that I can get my hands on.

Georges Bermann and Julie Fong produced the music video. They both worked mainly with Gondry.

K.K. Barrett was the art director. I can only find a couple of credits, but three of them happen to be ones that have already been done here. He was the “Philosophical Consultant” on Weapon Of Choice by Fatboy Slim. I still have no idea what that means. He was the production designer on Elektrobank by The Chemical Brothers. He was also the art director for Tonight, Tonight by The Smashing Pumpkins. That means they hired an art director who is famous for working on a remake of a classic example of Cinema of Spectacle (A Trip To The Moon), would go on to do a Fred Astaire inspired music video, and had already done a music video with The Chemical Brothers. Even more so, he was doing music like this known as electropunk back in the 1970s with a group called The Screamers. You can see him on drums in the video below–assuming it is still up.

He has also worked on famous films like Her (2013) and Lost In Translation (2003).

Music Video of the Day: Fell In Love With A Girl by The White Stripes (2002, dir. Michel Gondry)

First off–thank you so much for filling in for me this week, Lisa. I was really sick. I’m glad this daily post was kept up. Also, of course Downtown Sasquatch counts. If I said no, then Lisa might revoke my Degrassi fan card. I also have to agree since there are some music videos that will tread that line as well that I have in mind for the future. Onward!

I have mentioned before about the great musical apocalypse of the late 90s. In 2001, The Strokes released their album Is This It. They had bad and good timing. The bad timing was because it was released shortly before 9/11, which meant they had to remove a song that would have gone over like a lead balloon at the time. They had good timing because it meant that the late 90s era was dying. You did had Limp Bizkit trying to get clever with their music video parody for their song My Way. You actually had Sum 41 with their music video for Still Waiting that seemed to be trying desperately to make fun of bands like The Strokes. I even remember that my local Bay Area alt rock station played along and actually aired the song like it was breaking news that the band had indeed changed their name to The Sums. It felt kind of sad. A last gasp. At least in retrospect we can enjoy some of those songs now that we are out of that era.

But we are here to talk about the notorious The White Stripes. They had actually been around prior to The Strokes’ Is This It. They released their debut album in 1999. The Hives had also released their debut as early as 1997. I can’t speak for everyone, but once The Strokes album came out, then there just seemed to be untold numbers of these garage rock revival bands. So many so that The Killers went ahead revived new wave–post-punk depending where you look–while they were at it. I’d say their music is a little bit of both. Sadly, this period got so white hot that it seemed to largely fizzle itself out by the mid-to-late 2000s. Too bad.

In 2002 The White Stripes sort of decided to team up with Michel Gondry to make this music video. According to Wikipedia, Jack wanted to work with Mark Romanek because he directed Devil’s Haircut for Beck. However, the record company screwed up and hired Michel Gondry. Jack remembered he did Deadweight for Beck, which he also liked, so he was find with Gondry.

Aside from one short part that they did with CGI, it was all done with genuine LEGO bricks that they went out and bought to make the music video. The kid at the start of the music video is Gondry’s own kid.

For me, this is right up there with the music video that was done for The Alan Parsons Project’s song Don’t Answer Me. It’s an experimental music video rather than a regular short film music video.

Sébastien Fau did the special effects on the music video. I can find one other music video credit for him where he worked as the director for what appears to be a French music video. He does have a couple of other credits on IMDb, but that’s it.

Romain Segaud worked as an animator on this music video. He did a couple more music videos as a director, but that’s all I can find as far as music videos are concerned. Beyond that, he seems to have primarily done work for French television.