18 March 2005 | FilmOtaku
I consider some music videos to be basically short films in term of their scope, and the effort that is put into them. Videos started becoming a true art form with directors like David Fincher and Mark Romanek, quickly followed by Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry and Chris Cunningham. The latter three are featured in a DVD series called "The Work of Director _____" Until viewing "The Work of Director Chris Cunningham", I had only heard of him because of Madonna's "Frozen" video, which I find to be astounding. After watching his collection of videos, it is clear that he has a dark vision and immense talent for creating shocking, yet fascinating imagery.
While ruminating over the selection of videos, it is really hard to come up with a favorite image, much less a favorite video. In "Come to Daddy" (Aphex Twin) we have an elderly woman walking her dog on the street of what appears to be a European city, when she comes across a television which features a distorted image of Aphex Twin singing the words to the song. Meanwhile, a group of children, all with the Aphex Twin's head on their bodies, run rampant throughout the neighborhood, wreaking havoc until the image comes out of the television in the form of a demon (and a pretty scary one too Cunningham's makeup and special effects work in various films really gave him great experience) to collect his "children" around him. "Afrika Shox" (Leftfield featuring Afrika Bambaataa) shows an African-American man, emaciated and hollow looking, walking around a city while passers-by either ignore him or stare. Unfortunately, he begins to come apart literally. It starts with his right arm cracking off his body and breaking apart like porcelain as it falls on the ground, soon to be followed by his other limbs, until he can't even hop around. While there is an obvious message somewhere in there, the imagery is just stunning in this video.
There are many more amazing videos in the collection (Including Portishead essentially singing underwater and Bjork's all-too-human-looking robots having a romantic moment together), but the static imagery throughout the videos was all dark; even the video that takes place in sunny Los Angeles ends up having dark (yet hilarious) images. Also, the imagination and vision of Cunningham is absolutely fascinating. While he provides these (mostly obscure) songs with images, there is a coldness and detachment from the subjects that I found very intriguing. I'm sure that it won't be long before he is tapped to direct more than music videos and short films. His fellow video directors who are featured in the DVD series went on to direct incredibly imaginative Oscar-nominated films, but I see Cunningham following in the footsteps of David Fincher, and lending his dark and disturbing vision to a great thriller or horror film. Based on what I saw in this collection of short films/music videos, I would attend that movie, sight unseen. 7/10 --Shelly