Work Of Jonathan Glazer (Directors Label/Volume Five)
Sound: B Extras: B+ Videos: B+
We continue our look at the terrific Palm
Pictures-released Directors Label DVD series with the fifth volume on The
Work Of Jonathan Glazer. Glazer’s
work offers a world of changing Britishisms, mortality, classical gangsterism,
and the almost supernatural spaces between man, nature and the unnatural. Though there are some qualities of Stanley
Kubrick’s work (sometimes by way of Ridley Scott), what is most interesting is
how Glazer is continuing a school of gritty urban British filmmaking that has
not survived as well as it should have.
In his own personal way, he has fused all these qualities together into
a new personal vision that is striking and of the moment. The Music Video clips here are:
Street Spirit – Radiohead appear in this
black and white clip that layers various images in regular and slow motion, as
the band members are in a metallic trailer park. The too real and surreal are meshed to sad effect.
Virtual Insanity – At a time when everyone
(especially the media) was talking about virtual reality and its promises not
only never materialized, but were laughed off, this brilliant Video for the
band Jamiroquai makes one wonder if lead singer Jay Kay or the room itself is
moving. The result is an
ever-compelling work that totally expresses the song’s idea of people being
pushed out of the world by technology.
A Song For The Lovers (2.35 x 1) – Richard
Ashcroft’s song is twisted a bit by applying diegetic sound effects as he finds
himself stuck in his own private space, no matter where he goes in his
apartment. Partly influenced by a
concluding moment in 2001.
Into My Arms – The great Nick Cave & The
Bad Seeds are here in this black and white work for this bluesy song about
spiritual contact. The constant direct
shots of the human face remind one of Godley & Creme’s Cry, but
without any visual effects added.
Striking and beautiful.
Rabbit In Your Headlights (2.35 X
1) – The UNKLE clip shot in black and white with always-memorable French actor
Denis Lenoir as a disturbed man walking through a tunnel with all kinds of
traffic, including its memorable conclusion.
The Universal (Version One/1.78 X 1) – Many
videos have tried to imitate Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971), but
this one for the band Blur still holds up as one of the most accurate,
effective and clever to date. Elements
of 2001 are also here, but it is impressive, as is the song.
Karma Police (1.78 X 1)– Powerful Radiohead
video (also on their fine 7 Television Commercials set) about a
desperate man being taunted with torture and death at the hands of a big old
car, it is visually stark, yet vivid.
It is one of the band’s best songs too.
Karmacoma (Uncut/1.66 X 1) – The Massive
Attack song is shot in vivid color as a hoodlum tries to escape with a bag of
money, but escape from this place may not be as easy as it seems. Glazer has fun with Kubrick’s The Shining
in unexpected ways, particularly by its infusion of the Gangster genre.
Technically, the image is terrific on just about all these
clips, though where the video white is a tad off and detail is slightly
thinner, that suggests a slight generation down from the master source. All are 1.33 x 1 except where otherwise
indicated and none of the letterboxed Videos are anamorphically enhanced. That does not hurt their picture performance
too much. Virtual Insanity for
instance, has great color quality and image richness. Note the color on Kay’s zip-up top. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is often richer than in just about
any case you are likely to encounter, with surrounds in some clips, for which
you can experiment to hear which songs play back best which way. This critic prefers two-channel in these
cases. In the case of The Universal,
it looks better and sounds much better than The Best Of Blur collection
from a few years ago.
Extras include another great 56-page booklet with photos,
illustrations, and Walter Campbell interviewing Glazer, while the DVD has at
least one excellent audio commentary track for each Video, 11 television
commercials he has directed, including two exceptional clips with Samuel L.
Jackson for a financial services company, excerpts and interviews with the
actors involved with his first two feature films (Sexy Beast and Birth)
including Ben Kingsley, Ray Winstone, Nicole Kidman and cinematographer Harris
Savides, and Tramp with Paul Kaye.
That adds up to yet another strong and impressive installment in this
series from a director who is just getting warmed up. Be sure to catch it!
- Nicholas Sheffo