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I’ve been watching a few old My Chemical Romance videos on YouTube (don’t ask why), and I noticed that Marc Webb was their go-to guy for direction.
Webb, of course, directed one of my favourite movies of last year, (500) Days of Summer, and is slated to helm the new Spider-man reboot (which I’m feeling more optimistic about. Andrew Garfield! Emma Stone! Dennis Leary!). But, like a lot of contemporary directors, he got his start directing music videos. And since this all happened in the early-to-mid 2000′s, he inevitably ended up directing videos for a lot of post-grunge and “emo” bands that were popular at the time.
Being in middle school around this time, I was greatly influenced by what my peers were listening to. And I actually watched Much Music back then. So, without knowing it, I’m pretty familiar with this guy’s back catalogue. Looking at the list of videos that he’s directed, I can immediately and vividly remember the following videos (in chronological order):
- Puddle of Mudd – She Hates Me (is that Minka Kelly in the video? I honestly can’t tell.)
- Yellowcard – Ocean Avenue
- My Chemical Romance – I’m Not Okay
- Jesse McCartney – Beautiful Soul
- My Chemical Romance – Helena
- Hot Hot Heat – Middle of Nowhere
- Hilary Duff – Wake Up
- My Chemical Romance – The Ghost Of You
- Weezer – Perfect Situation
- All-American Rejects – Move Along (notable for seizure-inducing chorus segments, and Tyson Ritter’s beauty)
- AFI – Miss Murder
- Fergie – London Bridge
- My Chemical Romance – I Don’t Love You
- My Chemical Romance – Teenagers
- Miley Cyrus – Start All Over
- All American Rejects – Gives You Hell
And that’s not even close to half the videos that he’s done. There are a few others that I don’t remember, and a bunch that I never saw, including some with Green Day (first in 2001, and then for their 21st Century Breakdown album), Good Charlotte, Gavin DeGraw’s “I Don’t Want to Be”, Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day”, and Maroon 5′s “Harder to Breathe”.
This might not be a shining era in music history, but you have to admit that Webb directed videos for some pretty prominent songs of the time. And the fact that I can actually remember so many of his videos means that they’re at least somewhat interesting (either that, or I just watched them so many times that they’re permanently engrained in my memory).
In fact, I think that a few of those videos are actually quite good. My Chemical Romance’s “The Ghost of You” is probably one of the best directed videos I’ve seen in a while. And even though it’s melodramatic and over-the-top, the theatrical tone is spot on for their fanbase. Same goes for their gothed-out “Helena” video, and the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” rip-off that is “Teenagers”. I’m not surprised that the band worked with Webb so often, because it seems to me that he deserves a lot of credit for helping them to cultivate a very specific and successful image.
And videos like “Start All Over” and “Move Along” are surprisingly memorable, too. Their concepts are simple and certainly not groundbreaking, but whenever I think of those songs (which, admittedly, is not very often), the music video immediately comes to mind.
Despite working with such a wide array of artists, I’m surprised by what a unique, recognizable style Webb has. I can’t really pinpoint it, but most of those videos have a signature Marc Webb look to them. I had no idea going into (500) Days of Summer that this guy had defined my middle school years, to an extent.
Not to get too sentimental, but I think that time period was the twilight for the music video. Sure, you can find some really innovative videos online by smaller artists, but mainstream videos are largely dead, as far as I can tell. With the exception of Lady Gaga, it seems like the big artists today and their labels are barely putting any thought into music videos. Of course, it doesn’t help that television stations barely play videos anymore, but there’s still the while “viral” market for them online that they could try to tap into. I’m not saying that music videos from the mid-2000′s were great, because most of them weren’t. And maybe I’m just fond of them because that’s when I came of age. But artists like Green Day, My Chemical Romance, and Billy Talent at least attempted some kind of visual style (no, I don’t count Katy Perry’s penchant for sepia tone as a “style”).
So there’s a look at some of the highlights from Marc Webb’s video career (you can see a more complete list on his Wikipedia page here). You can also watch a few of the videos below. I’m hoping to write up some future segments on the music videos of Mark Romanek, Samuel Bayer, and Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris.
This fan-made trailer of Ferris Bueller re-imagined as an angsty indie drama has been all over the internet today (I saw it, like two days ago, bitches!) These are three thoughts I had about it:
As much as I hate to admit it, I would probably be all over this pretentious, re-imagined Ferris Bueller, if it was an actual thing
I forgot/never realised how artfully shot that movie is
A whole bunch of kids are now going to watch Ferris Bueller for the first time and expect something entirely different.
The Hollywood Reporter’s “Roundtable” video series has been going for a few years now, but I must admit that this is the only segment that I’ve ever watched. It probably has something to do with the names involved in this roundtable – Ryan Gosling, James Franco, Colin Firth, Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Duvall (who seems a bit like the odd man out, to be honest) – that got me to watch the entire hour’s discussion. And it was pretty interesting. You can click here to watch the whole thing.
It’s nice to see actors discussing the craft in a somewhat more natural way. Yes, it is still a contrived setting and there are “moderators” controlling the discussion. But the desperate need for talk show anecdotes is largely gone. At times, it veers into navel-gazing contemplation about the art of acting, but I’d say that the video is well worth watching, if not only for a few choice moments. Highlights (though I recommend watching the video for yourself):
- Ryan Gosling’s discussion of Derek Cianfrance’s approach to making Blue Valentine. Coming from a history of documentary film, Cianfrance apparently never did more than one take of a scene (and the actors had no rehearsal time). And an entire night of filming was devoted to capturing whatever Gosling and Michelle Williams improvised while wandering the city. Because of the film’s tight budget, Cianfrance had to give up having lights for the entire film in order to have the resources to film from sunset to sunrise on this one night. As Gosling puts it, “He knew where to spend his money in the hopes of grabbing those moments.”
- Gosling’s explanation of why he pulled out of Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones. Gosling gained sixty pounds for the role, but a lack of communication between actor and filmmaker made for an unpleasant surprise when he showed up on set weighing 210 pounds. But as Gosling says, the weight issue was only a small indicator of the vastly different visions that he and Jackson had for the film and the character. And having seen The Lovely Bones, I think I’d probably prefer Gosling’s version.
- Jesse Eisenberg’s hyper-self-consciousness. Insecurities fly fast and furious here, and that’s why I find Eisenberg such an unrelentingly fascinating character. He talks about doing 50 takes for a scene on The Social Network, and feeling like 48 of those takes were “terrible and mortifying”. He also talks about the filming of Adventureland, and how he would keep track of which takes and specific lines he thought he delivered well, and request that only those takes be used in the movie (the other roundtable actors get a kick out of that one).
- Robert Duvall’s incredulousness over David Fincher’s perfectionism and penchant for endless takes.
- The discussion of doing “bad movies”. Franco talks about his early work, and how doing movies that he hated eventually led to him pursuing other interests and “viewing movies in a different way”. Eisenberg also talks about one instance where he struggled with deciding whether or not to take an early role that he had no interest in.
- Is it just me, or does Mark Ruffalo seem like the friendliest dude ever? He definitely came across the warmest, adding little jokes and encouragement (and possibly patting Colin Firth’s knee at one point near the end?). He also seemed to take himself the least seriously of the group, which I respect.
As for the Oscar chances of this group (since awards season is the impetus for these videos), I think all of them have a decent shot. I still don’t think that Franco, Eisenberg, and Gosling can all squeeze into the Best Actor category. They’re just too young. But with Jesse Eisenberg’s Best Actor win from the National Board of Review earlier this afternoon, it looks like he could be a major contender. And with Franco as a virtual lock, I fear Gosling might be left out in the cold. Firth and Duvall will also both likely be nominated for Best Actor. The only supporting player involved here is Ruffalo, and I hope that he can still find a spot in his category.
(You can watch “The Suburbs” video embedded above, or head over to Arcade Fire’s website to watch a better quality version.)
…I think that the music video for Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” will become a classic.
I know that it’s hard for music videos to achieve the ubiquity that they used to. MTV doesn’t play music anymore, and I recently discovered that Much Music is now playing videos in ADD-friendly one minute snippets (seriously!). But this thing is just too good.
It’s directed by my boy Spike Jonze, and it’s a fantastic addition to his catalogue. Throughout the 90′s Jonze was a prominent music video director, most famous for clips such as the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” and Weezers “Buddy Holly“. He broke into feature films with 1999′s Being John Malkovich (which earned him a Best Director Oscar nomination) and has since directed 2002′s Adaptation. and 2009′s Where the Wild Things Are.
Although he’s still been directing music videos, his output decreased in the past decade. Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice“, Phantom Planet’s “Big Brat“, and Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights” all serve as highlights of his post-Malkovich career. However, I think he’s outdone himself here.
It’s crazy to me that such a cryptic video can make me feel so many things. There are so many unanswered questions. There were rumours earlier this year that Jonze was working with the band on a sci-fi short film, which could potentially expand on this video (or could BE this video). But in a way, I think I’d prefer to let it stand on its own.
It starts off with your standard directionless youth getting into hijinks. It’s a music video staple, but it works so much more effectively when Jonze is behind the camera. He always imbues his films with an airy tinge of nostalgia. The images of faceless suburbs and bored kids immediately took me back to my own childhood.
But then things start to get strange. The military is in town, one of the kids gets a haircut, and the whole friendship crumbles. Even though it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, I felt the urgency, and I held my breath for much of the video’s second half. I think it says a lot about our current society, and everything that it means to grow up. I’ve heard others make the comparison, but “The Suburbs” feels like this fucked up generation’s version of the “1979” music video from fourteen years ago.
Combined with Where the Wild Things Are and Jonze’s excellent short film from earlier this year, I’m Here, Jonze seems to be taking a more melancholic approach to his filmmaking recently. All three pieces explore the loss of innocence and the desire to connect, and he does it with a fine balance of optimism and restlessness. I’d even go as far to say that Jonze is putting out his best work yet.
Chris Klein is an actor that I will probably always inexplicably defend. I don’t know what it is about the guy, but I find him to be a weirdly appealing on-screen presence.
I legitimately enjoyed his performances in Election and The United States of Leland (especially the latter, where he gave a surprisingly effective dramatic turn). Yes, his filmography has more than its fair share of stinkers, especially recently, but I’ve always kind of been pulling for him to make a comeback.
His recent DUI arrest and admission to rehab has obviously slowed him down, but things seemed to be looking up (in a bizarre way) with the viral leak of his supposedly legit Mama Mia! audition tape (which had the car-wreck watchability of a particularly uncomfortable American Idol audition). He followed this up nicely with self-parody video, Chris Klein: More Leaked Auditions.
Now, someone has geniusly compiled every cringe-inducing line of dialogue that Klein delivered in 2009′s infamously panned Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun
Li into one video. If you’ve been curious about the film but unwilling to sit through the whole thing (like me), this video allows you to experience every line of dialogue that Klein utters in under two minutes.
I think that this is one of the few performances that doesn’t need context to be appreciated.
I have to give Klein credit, though. He seems to be more than embracing the campiness of the script (or, at least, I’m assuming that he’s in on the joke. If this is an earnest performance, then that’s another story…)
You can watch the video here, and I recommend that you do. It’s glorious. My favourite moments are anything that involves him saying “Shadaloo”.
Peole just don’t understand my enthusiasm for Jason Bateman. I mean, I sat through Couples Retreat because of him (okay, and because I like Swingers). And as much as I absolutely love Arrested Development, my personal favourite Jason Bateman performance is in 2007′s Juno. Even more than Juno‘s twisty script and Ellen Page’s revelatory performance, I really treasure Bateman’s performance, and his character Mark, in a weird way. He’s immature, and hardly someone that you would root for, but Mark almost turned out to be the emotional core of the movie, for me.
So when I heard that Bateman would be appearing on a talk show hosted by Juno writer Diablo Cody (AND that said talk show would take place in an Airstream trailer), I was pretty excited. The ten-minute interview is up on the Red Band Trailer YouTube channel, and it’s a ton of fun to watch. Cody is quick and self-depricating, and the two of them seem to have a grand old time together. I have to admit, though, I am a little confused by Bateman’s surprisingly earnest assurances that he’s, “Just kidding”, after a few particularly dry barbs. Since when has Jason Bateman ever not assumed that everyone in the world shares his particular brand of humour?
You can watch the Jason Bateman interview below, and you may also want to check out Adam Brody’s appearance on Red Band Trailer. Oh, Seth Cohen. You’re actually pretty clever.
October 18, 2001
Ryan Adams is a notoriously temperamental stage performer (his tendency to walk off mid-set has been well publicised in recent years), but a quick search on YouTube will show you that when he’s on, he on. And his 2001 show at Amsterdam’s Paradiso is a good example of Adams on a very good night. Ten songs from the show were aired on Lola da Musica, a Dutch television show, and they’re some of the more powerful performances from Adams that I’ve seen.
The highlight of the set is “Touch, Feel, and Lose”, a bluesy track from Gold that he absolutely rips into. The studio version has always reminded me of Fiona Apple, but I have no idea who he was channelling in this amazing live performance. The last set of “cry, cry, cry” is like nothing else I’ve seen from Adams.
“Nobody Girl” and “Tina Toledo’s Streetwalking Blues” allow for his guitar work and his backing band (which he called The Sweetheart Revolution at the time) to really shine, while “Oh, Charles” is a sparse piano solo. The song isn’t one of his better-known, but its poignant lyrics and Adams’ restrained vocals make it seem instantly familiar. Although the one’s I’ve mentioned are my favourite tracks, all of the videos are well worth watching. It makes me wish that Adams would hurry up and come out of sorta-retirement and start touring again.
Bachelor Girl (C’mon Darkness Blues)
Touch, Feel, and Lose (*must-see)
Nobody Girl (*must-see)
The Rescue Blues
Nervous Breakdown/New York, New York
Oh, Charles (*must-see)
Tina Toledo’s Streetwalking Blues
For Day 2 of my Ryan Adams week feature, I was planning to link to ten covers of Ryan Adams songs on YouTube. But as I was looking, I really didn’t find many that impressed me, and the number shrank to five (and later to three). I found plenty of competent covers that I could post, but these are the three that are really worth watching. They’re more professional and inventive than most of the other covers that can be found floating around YouTube.
So Alive (covered by Vince Vaccaro)
The sound quality may not be great, but you can’t argue with the idea of belting out a Ryan Adams song in a tunnel with an acoustic guitar. I love the abandonment that Vaccaro sings with on the chorus of “So Alive”. It’s a surprisingly powerful cover.
To Be Young (covered by Ryan Joseph Burns)
Burns’ rendition of “To Be Young” is a great showcase for his impressive voice. His acoustic twist on the original is a lot of fun, and he adds some really nice vocal flourishes. (Also, be sure to check out his cover of “The Rescue Blues”. His style has developed a lot in two years, but it’s still impressive.)
Come Pick Me Up (covered by Jon Wilkins)
Wilkins offers a much smoother take on the song (think Tyler Hilton), but he also provides a very lovely version of the song. As far as earnest dudes in their 20′s strumming acoustic guitars go (and there are a lot of them on YouTube), Wilkins is one of the few to offer something special.