The Work of Director Johnathan Glazer

The Work Of Director Jonathan Glazer

Directors Label

Englishman Jonathan Glazer is the fifth director to be profiled in the Directors Label series of DVDs. However, unlike previous DVDs in the collection, the feeling is not one of utter amazement at the artistic vision, but rather confusion as to why Glazer is being profiled in this series.

It is not a matter of Glazer lacking some incredible visual output. It is more a feeling that it is not yet Glazer’s time to have this type of DVD. Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry both have larger bodies of work to draw upon and consistently put out better productions. And even Chris Cunningham’s incredibly sparse DVD (both in videos and extras) showed that an acute dose of genius goes a long way.

Glazer’s DVD does have its strong points. His Guinness commercials are visually appealing and entertaining. And the three minute preview of Glazer’s movie “Sexy Beast” was engaging enough to make this reviewer want to run out and rent the film just to see the rest of Ben Kingsley’s amazing performance.

However, anyone picking up one of the Directors Label DVDs is most likely doing so because of the music videos and not TV commercials. And it is Glazer’s music videos that show not only his immense talent and promise, but also his inability to match up to his predecessors in the series.

Glazer did make some of the most amazing, and immediately recognizable music videos of all time. Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity” (the one where the floor seems to move) is a timeless masterpiece that still looks great today. Both of the Radiohead videos on the DVD, “Street Spirit” and “Karma Police,” compliment the original songs perfectly.

UNKLE’s “Rabbit In Your Headlights” takes top prize on this DVD. While not widely seen on television (MTV banned the video), the video is one of Glazer’s most recognizable. The haunting melodies and Thom Yorke’s brooding voice are visualized in the form of a deranged man being continually hit by cars in a highway tunnel. The final shot, where the man spreads his arm in a Christ-like fashion and demolishes a car, is a gorgeous work of art.

But for all these great moments in music video history, Glazer made some truly awful videos. Massive Attack’s “Karmacoma” feels like a meandering combination of The Shining and Madonna’s video for “Erotic.” The concept just fails. Blur’s “The Universal” is plain boring, and Richard Ashcroft’s “Song for the Lovers” is about as pointless as a music video can be. The interviews in the DVD do nothing to explain or highlight why Glazer deserves the praise that he does. And since the work doesn’t answer that question itself, the interviews are only useful for explanations of how the videos were made.

Little touches that are supposed to add to the DVD, such as menu video clips and bizarre navigation only make things confusing and frustrating.

Glazer has made some important contributions to music videos and the art of directing, but not enough to put his DVD side by side with the likes of Cunningham, Romanek, Gondry or Jonze. Hopefully, the Directors Label will not rush out a third series of DVDs until the next generation of directors truly deserve this type of retrospective.

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