5 of Spike Jonze's Most Groundbreaking Videos
One of our favorite things is when two industries come together to create beautiful and unique work. For a few years now, Spike Jonze, one of our favorite filmmakers, and Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, pioneers of Opening Ceremony and creative directors of Kenzo, have been creating knockout after knockout collaborations. They’ve made everything from campaign videos and photographs, to a one-night-only play to showcase OC’s SS15 collection, and which served as the setting for an impromptu music video for Karen O. And now, for their most recent collaborative endeavor, Leon and Lim enlisted the always fun, always unique Jonze to create a video for Kenzo’s new fragrance, Kenzo World.
The video, which stars The Leftovers’ Margaret Qualley and which features a soundtrack by Jonze’s brother, Sam Spiegel, is a beautiful and diabolical choreographed display of madness. Steeped in a dark and sinister charm—thanks in no small part to Qualley’s incredible dance routine—the ad is an indisputable nod to one of Jonze’s best-known non-film works, Fatboy Slim’s video for “Weapon of Choice”—which features Christopher Walken, dancing and flying in a similarly chilling, if rhythm-less fashion, through an empty building lobby. Which had us thinking about some of the other non-film work Jonze has made that have helped redefined contemporary culture for over two decades. From groundbreaking skate videos to music videos for some of music’s biggest icons, (ahem, Sonic Youth, Kanye West, and Biggie), here are our top five Spike Jonze videos.
Way before he had become one of the industry’s most respected filmmakers with works like Being John Malkovich and Her, Jonze was a big player in the skateboarding world. Released in 1991, “Video Days,” Jonze’s first foray into the world of skate films, became one of the most influential pieces of work in skateboarding culture that’s still heavily referenced today. Featuring legends like Mark Gonzales, Jason Lee, and Guy Mariano in their early days, the Blind Skateboards video broke the skate video mold with Jonze’s spectacular filming and editing. (Side note: can we talk about how dreamy Jason Lee is?)
Perhaps one of the best things about Jonze’s work is that it all makes sense as a canon, with an obvious thread and visible evolution throughout the years. Throughout the years, Jonze has created music videos for underground artists who later became icons of their respective trades. Take the Beastie Boys, who were just a trio a of scrappy, high energy New Yorkers before Jonze got ahold of them and were finally recognized as one of the most influential acts of all time. Although we could’ve chosen from any of the six BB x Jonze videos, there is an undeniable genius to the campy Starsky & Hutch-esque take on the classic song, “Sabotage” that perfectly encapsulates the humor and creativity of both the director and the band. (R.I.P MCA.)
It took about four years to film “Fully Flared,” a video directed by Jonze, Ty Evans, and Cory Weincheque for Lakai footwear, but the merit and importance of the video is insurmountable. Cited as the most anticipated skate vid ever, the endurance is still palpable, having presented creative filming and editing techniques, skate tricks, and style choices that are still at the forefront of culture today. Not to mention a superb soundtrack.
Triumph Of A Heart
Like with the Beastie Boys, the collaborations between Jonze and Icelandic angel/alien Björk are aplenty—each one a surreal, comical, and unnervingly beautiful piece in its own right. However, if we were to choose just one of their videos, it would have to be the mini-film for “Triumph of a Heart,” and one look at it will immediately explain why. In it, Björk is seen partying as an escape from her romantic relationship with a cat (who wears a tank top and a suit), before returning home and dancing with the cat in their living room. And it thoroughly epitomizes Björk’s playful and surreal spirit, as well as Jonze’s creative mastery. Whether or not it’s beastiality or art is up for you to decide.
The top comment for this video says, “I hope there was a safety word,” and honestly we’re hoping the same thing. For LCD Soundsystem—one of the most pivotal bands to come out of New York in the 21st century—Jonze and James Murphy devised the terrifying yet hilarious concept of the band members being tortured by a group of people (kidnappers?) dressed in panda bear costumes. The whole thing escalates very quickly—and interestingly, goes perfectly with the LCD party anthem—and is a terrific example of the cranked-up, kind-of-kooky humor that Jonze is known for.
Stay tuned to Milk for more on Spike Jonze’s ventures