LAFF 2011 Review: ECLECTIC MIX 2
In an age when music videos are nearly archaic, it is almost a rarity to actually watch one. With MTV having become more of a reality television channel than one having anything to do with music, most videos are watched online through sites like YouTube and Vimeo. The opportunity to watch these videos on the big screen, as screened during the LA Film Festival’s ECLECTIC MIX NO. 2 program, was a real treat and allowed for some of the videos' more intricate details to pop off the screen and became a much more immersive experience rather than watching them in the corner of your computer screen.
The selections screened this year did not have much of an overarching theme, which was not surprising considering the varied styles and sounds of the artists featured in the program. The videos utilized a wide variety of styles from animation to live action, narratives to random images with each complimenting its respective artist and song to create a refreshing collection of different and unique visions. Out of all the videos shown in the program the ones that struck me the most ranged from comedic narratives that were simply fun to watch to stunning visual expressions that took my breath away. Although completely different in their approach, both formats succeeded to staying with me and I found myself still thinking about them hours later.
Bringing back the age of the boy band, the catchy beats and vocals of Hot Chip’s “I Feel Better” (directed by Peter Serafinowicz) were paired seamlessly with the slick dance moves of the pretty boys performing on stage. But before you could feel like the ‘90s had made a sudden resurgence, a creepy Jesus-like figure appeared and lived out what was probably the fantasy of most guys who had to put up with the boy band era as the video turned into a dance-off massacre. The video is certainly odd, but I could not shake the narrative or the song, proving that Serafinowicz and Hot Chip’s seemingly weird idea succeeded in making itself memorable.
Vampire Weekend’s cameo filled video for “Giving Up the Gun” pits an ambitious tennis pro against a cast of interesting characters from ninjas to masked race car drivers to a drunk Jake Gyllenhaal. The video, directed by The Malloys, is fun and even involves the band (who never stops performing) in the match with drummer Chris Tomson swapping out one of his sticks for a racket. Although the cameos were humorous, the video stuck in my mind because the idea of having a band on court creating live music while playing a tennis match was actually interesting and appealed to me as both a music lover and a tennis player.
On the flip side of the coin, Massive Attack’s “Atlas Air” (directed by Edouard Salier) featured an evil, computer generated rabbit running through different landscapes. The visuals for this video were constantly changing and evolving, resulting in a hypnotic world that perfectly complimented the duo’s electronic sound. Watching this video again on my computer further proved, whether the band or Salier intended for it to be this way, that this is best viewed on the big screen.
The mellow and almost acoustic sound of Philip Selway’s “By Some Miracle” was also given a beautifully dark treatment by director David Altobelli. Altobelli created one of the most captivating selections of a man attempting suicide by beautifully complimenting and interweaving Selway’s song with the narrative. Altobelli is definitely a talent to watch (his video for Hamm’s “Breathturn” featured in last year’s ECLECTIC MIX was also one of my favorites) with a distinct style and vision that shines through in his work while still staying true to the different artists he collaborates with.
Some other notable collaborations included The Avett Brothers video for “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise” (directed by Jason Mitcham), which created a visual painting depicting the changes to a piece of land as people and corporations move in and move out again and how the land adapts, but never really changes. Returning to the narrative format, directors Jonas and Francois’ took the title of the White Lies song “Bigger Than Us” and turned it into the name of a candy bar – that happens to consume children. Told in dramatic fashion, the narrative was slightly reminiscent of a scene in E.T. of children struggling against authority and featured a young boy and girl as the leads, fighting to come back together.
Both Das Racist’s “Who’s That? Brooown!” and B. Fleischmann’s “Playtime” threw their band members into an old school video game format while Scissor Sister’s “Invisible Light” and MGMT’s “Congratulations” took on the idea of death and loss in compelling, if slightly off-putting, narratives. Superchunk’s “Digging for Something” followed the most “normal” music video format with a narrative cut between scenes of the band performing while SOUR’s “Mirror” tapped into the current trend of social media and constant Internet access having their video bounce from Twitter to Google Maps to YouTube to Facebook. Both Das Racist and SOUR also included links at the end of their videos for viewers to go to their websites to play the game or create their own social media journey.
One thing became clear with each video, no matter how funny, interesting, odd or different, each had a distinct voice and vision with images and stories that are not easily retold in just words. For a dying medium, it is impressive and smart that each artist and director created something that has to actually be watched to truly be experienced.
1. “Atlas Air” – Massive Attack (Directed by Edouard Salier)
2. “Bigger Than Us” – White Lies (Directed by Jonas and Francois)
3. “By Some Miracle” – Philip Selway (Directed by David Altobelli)
4. “Cinco de Mayo” – Golden Triangle (Directed by Margarita Jimeno)
5. “Congratulations” – MGMT (Directed by Tom Kuntz)
6. “Decisions” – How to Dress Well featuring Yuksel Arslan (Directed by Jamie Harley)
7. “Digging for Something” – Superchunk (Directed by Scott Jacobson)
8. “Every Minute Alone” – WhoMadeWho (Directed by William Stahl)
9. “Giving Up the Gun” – Vampire Weekend (Directed by The Malloys)
10. “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise” – The Avett Brothers (Directed by Jason Mitcham)
11. “I Feel Better” – Hot Chip (Directed by Peter Serafinowicz)
12. “Invisible Light” – Scissor Sisters (Directed by CANADA [Nicolas Mendez])
13. “Lovely Bloodflow” – Baths (Directed by Alex Takacs, Joe Nankin)
14. “Mirror” – SOUR (Directed by Masashi + Qanta + Saqoosha +Hiroki
15. “Playtime” – B. Fleischmann (Directed by Saman Keshavarz)
16. “Radar Detector” – Darwin Deez (Directed by Ace Norton)
17. “Ain’t Got No Life” – Patrice (Directed by Guillaume Cagniard)
18. “Tatooine” – Jeremy Messersmith (Directed by Eric Power)
19. “Who’s That? Brooown!” – Das Racist (Directed by Thomas De Napoli)