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Posts tagged ‘Spike Jonze’


Theresa Steininger

Two dancers doing a solo, one an elegant musical-dance-combination on a penetrary, crazy hip-hop-song by Fatboy Slim done in 2001 in a hotel, the other one a silent piece done 23 years before with modern dancer Trisha Brown on an empty stage, formed mostly out of swinging legs and head movements – and still „Water Motor“ by Babette Mongolte from 1978 and the Fatboy-Slim-Video „Weapon of Choice“ by Spike Jonze have something important in common: They both suprise and deal with what was contemporary in the days of their making, adding a new idea to their genre.

In the case of „Weapon of Choice“, director Jonze surprises the audience in various ways: By having a hip hop video done in a luxury hotel and especially by having Christopher Walken, known for his devil-parts in many Hollywood movies, who is in the beginning sitting in his chair like the Godfather, dance Broadway-style-jazzdance and Michael-Jackson-style-hip-hop-moves on lobby tables, escalate, suitcase carriere and many more – and not only that, but even bringing it up to the level of a science fiction movies by having him fly around the hotel after having danced energetically like a young one.

Mongolte and Brown also suceeded in surprising the audience in their days by bringing in moves which seem unintended, without structure, recognizable but still in a way new and strange. Trisha Brown, on an empty stage and without music, jumps, turns, does many release movements, but without any intention to create a narrative piece.

With both „Water Motor“ and „Weapon of Choice“, the spectators may wonder very much, what might have happened before the actual action happens and what made the dancers to do these movements. Both leave this open and the audience is invited to create its own pre-story.

Weapon of Choice – an unapologetic panegyric

Lise Smith

Fatboy Slim, I have to celebrate you. It’s hard for me to be coldly analytic about one of my favourite music videos – nay, one of my favourite short films – ever, so I’m not even going to try. This is going to be a solid gold panegyric, three hundred words of nothing but effusive praise. I have to praise you like I should.

In an era of music promos featuring identikit popstrels performing overfamiliar street-jazz routines in monotonous unison, with intrusive close-ups of the face and midriff of the otherwise forgettable pop muppet in question, it’s good to be reminded that there are artists with a genuine interest in making a creative product to accompany their music. And it’s great to be reminded also, in the figure of Christopher Walken, what genuine star quality is.

Walken’s character in the video is deliberately unglamorous – he wears a shabby, dun-coloured suit and his face appears ashen. He sits in a bland hotel foyer with only the hum of a hoover for company. Walken is, of course familiar to millions for his ice-cold Bond villain and crime boss characters, so it’s a surprise for many to see him leap up from his lonely seat and tapdance to Fatboy Slim’s latest floor-filler. That Walken is a trained dancer who performed in musicals as a younger man was news to most.

The movement has a wonderfully relaxed quality to it – although Walken’s tapping is scintillatingly rhythmic, he performs much of the material with hands casually in pockets and with minimal effort showing in the face. Parts of the material are gently mimetic: on the line “You can go with this,” Walken gestures to the side with a hand. Other sections have more visual dash – a sequence where Walken executes a series of fast stepping turns through a double-mirrored corridor, causing infinite reflections of the dancer, lingers long in the mind.

The illusion of a middle-aged man (Walken was 58 when he shot the video) having fun in a hotel-shaped playground is somewhat broken towards the end when the actor takes to a harness and flies around the lobby. This fantasy sequence actually takes away some of the magic for me – I prefer the idea of the jaded man having a moment of plausible pleasure, dancing around the escalators and corridors of the hotel, and this final sequence breaks my suspension of disbelief. But that one small niggle aside, Weapon of Choice remains one of the most inventive, original and surprising videos of the last ten years. And all without a hint of midriff in sight.

Fatboy Slim vs. Trisha Brown

Martina Rösler

Two short films, two different genres, two locations: a hotel and a dance studio

Fatboy Slim

The music video „Weapon of choice“ follows a narrative structure. A man sitting in a chair rather bored or depressed is somehow activated by the music. His dance is directly addressed to the camera/the spectator, as he wants to impress us with his “show”. In the environment of a hotel lobby movement-elements of jazz dance, tab-dance are put together to a choreography. Suddenly the man starts flying through the lobby, we enter a surrealistic layer, which creates an absurdity of the whole event. In the end he returns to the chair from the beginning as nothing has happened.

Trisha Brown

It is a document of Trisha Browns solo “Water Motor” from the year 1978, recorded in a dance studio by Bebette Mangolte. Her particularly movement quality, loose, casual including movements of everyday life working with different tensions, swings, jumps, at that time a new approach to dance. We see the solo twice, one time in normal speed, afterwards in slow motion. In between a fade-out and a fade-in. The camera is fixed, but follows Trisha Browns movement (with a pan shot).

(to be continued…)

fatboy slim exc.

Julie Rodeyns

We all know we shouldn’t judge people on the first eye, but still to often we do. Spike Jonzes proves us wrong in a video clip for ‘Weapon of choice’ by Fatboy Slim. The American filmmaker introduces us to a business man in tie and costume, sitting in an archair, looking a bit bored. All of a sudden, he starts making little tic mouvements with his head, as if suddenly he fell under some kind of spell. When he next stands up from his chair, he immediately starts dancing to the (…) music in a very confident, energetic and upfront way- facing the camera as much as possible. Soon, he starts taking bigger leaps, dancing his way through the hallways, jumping on a table where he tries out some tapdance moves, .. At the pique of his dance, he jumps from the second floor into the air, sailing to a huge painting in the lobby of the hotel. The painting shows three boats, sailing away under a cristal blue skye. Not only is the guy trough his dancing exploring the physical space (and we with him), he now also takes us to a possible imaginative mental space- away from the dreary interior of the hotel lobby. Just for a short moment tough, because soon enough the guy in a superman-ly way lands back on the floor again. Nevertheless, when he again takes up his initial position, we can never look at him in the same way anymore then we did. Even your everyday grey yuppie guy is not always what he seems like.

Eyeing Dance

Eylül Akıncı

Christopher Walken’s swing solo in Spike Jonze video Weapon of Choice is so playful and animated –as much as the music is- that it tags the camera behind him, rather than trying to squeeze into its frame. The visual richness of the environment (which is the halls and lobbies of a big and prestigious looking hotel) with hazy and pastel colors is quite fitting to the genre contextually. There is a cinematic quality resulting from the different plans and scenes, as well as the use of invisible ropes to “magically” fly Walken in the air. Although the music is not conventional swing, it provides the proper rhythm for dance, and in turn swing dance is successful to show the song’s funkiness.

By her solo in Water Motor filmed by Babette Mangolte, one can feel that Trisha Brown is creating colors and movement in the monochrome video which is shot in single plan and angle. Camera follows her movements in linear direction in right-left axle. The picture does not have much contrast and sharpness, and it is in tones of grey. Trisha Brown’s movements, especially in the second slow motion part, creates relieves on the plain background and floor. Her choreography is very dynamic with frequent jumps and turns, and it is even more pronounced with the visible waves of her hair and clothes during the second half. The camera seems to move very slightly, yet thanks to double framing it discloses the multiplicity of movements, thus contributing to the motion in a very subtle way.