Preface: Created by Spike Jonze, Chris Cunningham and Michel Gondry, The Directors Series is an ongoing DVD series highlighting the best work of international music video directors. In addition to videos, these directors have also dabbled in film, commercials and other curiosities. Their unique approaches combine unorthodox techniques with a keen understanding of source material, resulting in some of the industry's most memorable clips. Each creator compiled their best work to date for the first three volumes, the reviews for which have been linked below. This series marches on with Volumes #4-7, highlighting the work of Mark Romanek, Jonathan Glazer, Anton Corbijn and Stéphane Sednaoui.
Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast) is one of the more unpredictable of the featured directors, but that's what makes him worth investigating. His work has been featured in a variety of media (including a handful of TV commercials), but rarely strays from its darker roots. Often working with a limited color palette---or in many cases, none at all---Glazer's knack for atmosphere places him among the best in his class. Still, there's a portion of his work that remains playful and upbeat, standing in sharp contrast to its darker cousins (for proof, just watch "Virtual Insanity" and "Rabbit In Your Headlights" back-to-back). While this could hold true for any director, Glazer's smaller resume makes it all the more evident.
This resume also shows that he may be finished with music videos for now (the most recent being "A Song For The Lovers" in 2000), as he quickly made the transition to the big screen with Sexy Beast the same year. Even so, "greatest hits" collections are often the most satisfying in retrospect; if anything else, it's an excellent snapshot of an artist whose best years may be ahead of him.
As such, the portfolio of a talented director is best showcased by the director himself. The Directors Series presents Glazer's favorites, including a nearly equal amount of videos and commercials. Though a few interesting bonus features are also on board, this disc includes the following:
Table of Contents
(Bonus Features listed separately)
Music Videos (8 Total)
UNKLE w/ Thom Yorke "Rabbit In Your Headlights"
Radiohead "Street Spirit (Fade Out)", "Karma Police"
Massive Attack "Karmacoma"
Richard Ashcroft "A Song For The Lovers"
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds "Into My Arms"
Blur "The Universal"
Jamiroquai "Virtual Insanity"
Commercials (11 Total)
Wrangler Jeans "Ride"
Guinness "Surfer", "Swim Black", "Dreamer"
Stella Artois "Last Orders", "Whip Round"
Barclays "Bull", "Chicken" (w/ Samuel L. Jackson)
Levi's Jeans "Kung Fu", "Odyssey"
Film Clips (2 Total)
Sexy Beast (Excerpt "You're the Problem")
Birth (Excerpt "Central Park")
Overall, the variety of subject matter presented here made this disc easy to get lost in. It was also nice to see a pair of Radiohead videos included, especially since "Knives Out" wasn't included in the Michel Gondry disc. Glazer's eye-popping visuals are on full display here, from the disturbing "Rabbit In Your Headlights" to the sterile, Kubrick-esque style of "Universal". Of course, the commercials are also worth a mention; most of them employ striking black-and-white imagery to create a more engaging atmosphere than your typical 30-second spot (and the clips for Sexy Beast and Birth are much appreciated). It's also worth noting that this selection of videos represents nearly of Glazer's work to date; in fact, the only exclusion was another of Jamiroquai's videos ("Cosmic Girl"). Overall, a small but mighty selection of work makes Glazer's disc a winner on all counts.
Continuing the tradition of The Directors Series, this body of work has been lovingly assembled with the artist in mind. Glazer's off-center approach translates well in the overall presentation---unless you're not partial to the off-center stuff, that is---which makes for a slightly shorter but still satisfying selection of superior stuff (whew!). Palm Pictures has once again combined the main features with an assortment of quality bonus material, backing everything with an excellent technical presentation. Overall, Glazer's disc is just another volume in an already fantastic series.
Quality Control Department
Video & Audio Quality:
Presented in their original aspect ratios (ranging from 1.33:1 to roughly 2.75:1), the transfers for Jonathan Glazer's portfolio of work look uniformly excellent. Although the widescreen videos and short films have not been enhanced for 16x9 televisions, they still appear clean, clear and free of major digital problems. Glazer's love for darker atmospheres can lead to a few murky scenes, but everything looks very good. There's little to no instances of dirt, scratches or excess grain to be found anywhere, rounding out a video presentation that's just about perfect.
The audio treatment is equally impressive, as this content is presented in a lively 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround mix. The atmosphere is generally quite strong and the audio quality for the music videos seems to be right on par with most commercial CD releases. Surround use is somewhat limited, but this collection of material still sounds about as good as it's ever going to on DVD. Unfortunately, no subtitles or Closed Captioning options were made available for this release.
Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging:
Created and designed by the artists themselves, the presentation for The Directors Series has always been a real highlight. The menu design for The Work of Director Jonathan Glazer (seen above) is very simple on the surface, though the layout of many submenus may take some getting used to. There's also a series of lengthy menu transitions (and I mean lengthy), but they're skippable once you've seen 'em. A "Play All" option for each section has also been included, as well as the option to play everything at once. The packaging for this one-disc release looks fantastic as usual, featuring a striking cover design and a simple layout. Also included in the double-sized clear keepcase is an informative 56-page Booklet full of photos, personal captions and other goodies.
Note: Because of the presentation style of this release, bonus features are assumed to be any included content that hasn't been previously seen on television. These are often limited to biographical documentaries, audio commentaries, rare short films, interviews and the like.
Though the included extras here are a bit thinner than other volumes, they're strong enough to stand up to the main content. Scattered about are a handful of Interviews and Commentaries for the videos and film clips, with the former also including short introductions before the respective videos begin. Among others, we hear from Robert del Naja (of Massive Attack), Graham Coxon (formerly of Blur), Nick Cave, Richard Ashcroft, James Lavelle (UNKLE) and even Ben Kingsley, Nicole Kidman and a few others for the Sexy Beast and Birth clips. Rounding out the bonus features is a short interview called Diary of a Lunatic (4 minutes), which highlights Glazer's friendship with the band Lunatic while working on his debut film. Of course, the already mentioned 56-page Booklet helps make up for the slightly thinner contest. All in all, though, it's a nicely packed disc that you'll enjoy.
For those who like varied work that's still highly engaging, The Work of Director Jonathan Glazer should fit the bill nicely. It doesn't quite reach the consistent highs found on the best compilations in the series (perhaps the bar was simply set too high?), but this is still a solid collection of terrific content that fans will really enjoy. Palm Pictures continues their trend of quality releases with another volume in The Directors Series, so those who love DVDs should take note: in all regards, this is a small but mighty release that's really worth hunting down. Highly Recommended.
DVD Talk Review Link: Other Volumes in The Directors Series
Randy Miller III is a moderately affable art instructor based in Harrisburg, PA, who also enjoys freelance graphic design and illustration. When he's not doing that, he enjoys slacking off, general debauchery, and writing things in third person.