NOTE: A portion of this review contains similar comments (and references) from The Work of Director Spike Jonze. If you haven't checked it out yet (here), I'd encourage you to do so...it's a great disc!
The Work of Director Michel Gondry is part of the first run of DVDs from the Directors Label. Produced by Palm Pictures, these DVDs highlight some of the best directors in the music video industry. The other two directors, Spike Jonze and Chris Cunningham, have their own discs available now, but this particular release showcases French director Michel Gondry. He is perhaps best known for his long-time music video collaborations with Bjork, but has also worked with Radiohead, The Chemical Brothers, The Rolling Stones, and many others.
Michel Gondry is not only a talented director, but an accomplished musician and artist. He served as the drummer for the French band, Oui Oui, also cutting his teeth by directing their earlier music videos in the late 1980s. From there, he made the gradual transition to the well-respected director he is today. He's also completed a number of short films and stories that range from the childlike to the truly bizarre. This DVD release celebrates some of Michel Gondry's best work, and showcases a nice mix of everything he's dabbled in. His terrific visual style leans toward pure art itself, and his gifts of color and design really makes his body of work stand apart from the pack.
With that said, the videos are unique in other ways too. On more than one occasion, I was left scratching my head wondering, "Just how did he do that?" In particular, the White Stripes and Bjork videos were the most memorable overall. For the most part, these videos are very playful and fun, and tie in well with the music onscreen (sometimes they almost tie in too well). Everything here deserves repeat viewings, making this release a virtual treasure trove of music video history. In short, it's an awesome release that will hopefully get some attention.
Essentially the equivalent to a 2-disc release, this double-sided disc is divided as such: each contains a number of music videos, short films and stories. The music videos, in particular, are a nice mix of the most creative ever made (and the songs are great too!). The packaging and presentation are also very well done, and are discussed in more detail in the later portions of this review. I won't spoil any more of the wonderful surprises found here, so I'll get right to the content.
Stories and Things:
Again, sorry for the lack of descriptions here...you're much better off spoiler-free, though!
Needless to say, there's a good bit of stuff here for your viewing pleasure. At best, it's some of the most creative work by any director in recent memory. Even at worst, it's all pretty darn watchable. I made sure not to get into the music too much, as it may have affected my judgement of the videos on their own. I'll be honest, the lineup here is a virtual "who's who" of what's been in my CD player for the last 10 years or so. Still, it's hard not to get into the music, as most of the footage onscreen fits extremely well with it. One can't work without the other: a real testament to the level of quality found here. These are much more interesting than your average, run-of-the-mill videos found on MTV.
Darn it! Here I am rambling on, and we've got a DVD to look at! Once again, this is an awesome release in nearly every category, so I'm not done gushing just yet. Here we go!
Menu design and presentation:
There's a few points about the navigation and layout that I felt could have been improved, though. For one, I didn't really like how each side has videos, stories, and short films. I would have preferred the style used on the Spike Jonze disc much more, where the videos got their own side, and the other stuff was on Side B. Subtitles were also not included and are sorely missed (after all, you might miss some of the lyrics!). Oh, one other nitpick: double-sided discs are extremely hard to keep in excellent condition. It would have been more favorable to use two single-sided discs instead, at least for a rough-and-tumble fella like myself.
On a (somewhat) similar note, the packaging itself also deserves special mention. The wonderful cover artwork (with a scene from The White Stripes' video Fell In Love With A Girl, AKA The Lego video) is a real attention-grabber, and the overall design layout is nice to look at. The clear keep-case (also showcasing photos from the back of the cover art) is double-wide, but not to hold two discs. This extra room is needed for the awesome 52-page square-bound color book also included, featuring a collection of writings, drawings, and interviews. The book is a great read and a very nice inclusion to the release. Overall, this is one of the most substantial packaging jobs this year, and really adds to the value of this collection!
Should anything else have been included?
I hope you're convinced that this disc is worth your time and hard-earned money. If not, this disc is worth your time and hard-earned money. The rock-bottom MSRP of $19.99 (with online prices under $15) makes this a definite must-have, even for the casual fan. Of course, it also helps that the content found here is top-notch as well. If you're a fan of creative music videos---or just creative movies---you owe it to yourself to give this disc a spin. The Work of Director Michel Gondry easily cruises into the esteemed ranks of the DVD Talk Collector's Series. Well, gotta go...I'm off to watch some of the videos again!
Randy Miller III is a part-time cartooning instructor based in Harrisburg, PA. He also does freelance graphic design projects and works in an art gallery. When he's not doing that, he enjoys slacking off, general debauchery, and writing things in third person.