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Directors Label DVD Series 2 Review
by Kevin Wierzbicki

The second flight of releases from Palm Pictures' Directors Label is now available on DVD. They may not be household names, but you know these directors by their work, the bulk of which is presented here in the form of music videos. Each package contains a 56-page booklet with photos and notation; some booklets also show storyboards and have brief interviews with the directors. These sets are great compilations for music video fans and also a wealth of information for anyone studying film. This time out the directors who are in the spotlight are Mark Romanek, Jonathan Glazer, Anton Corbijn and Stephane Sednaoui.

Romanek has an impressive batch of big name artists that he's immortalized in film; stars like David Bowie, Madonna, Mick Jagger, R.E.M, Beck, Nine Inch Nails, Jay Z and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. But some of the most stunning visuals here come from unexpected sources: a wizened Johnny Cash covering Trent Reznor's "Hurt;" the looks on wide-eyed Fiona Apple's face during "Criminal," and the Eels, shot in black and white, floating in the air as they play "Novocaine for the Soul." Romanek comments after each video (this feature can be watched separately or skipped altogether) and in most cases the artist involved with the video comments too. Ben Stiller, Chris Rock and Robin Williams make funny comments about Romanek's work in the short feature, "Romanekian." The trio pull no punches with their humor, and Rock slams Romanek with "Why the f*** would you want to work with the Eels? No one's going to see this s***!" A serious documentary is also included and the booklet includes Romanek being interviewed by fellow director Spike Jonze.

DVD Details: 

Music Videos:
Jay-Z "99 Problems" (director's cut)
Linkin Park "Faint"
Red Hot Chili Peppers "Can't Stop"
Johnny Cash "Hurt"
Audioslave "Cochise" (director's cut)
No Doubt "Hella Good" (director's cut)
Mick Jagger "God Gave Me Everything"
Janet Jackson "Got 'til It's Gone"
Fiona Apple "Criminal"
Nine Inch Nails "Perfect Drug"
Beck "Devil's Haircut"
Weezer "El Scorcho" (director's cut)
Eels "Novocaine for the Soul"
Sonic Youth "Little Trouble Girl"
Michael and Janet Jackson "Scream" (director's cut)
Madonna "Bedtime Story"
R.E.M. "Strange Currencies"
G. Love & Special Sauce "Cold Beverage"
Nine Inch Nails "Closer" (director's cut)
David Bowie "Jump They Say"
Madonna "Rain"
Lenny Kravitz "Are You Gonna Go My Way"
Keith Richards "Wicked as it Seems" (director's cut)
En Vogue "Free Your Mind"
kd lang "Constant Craving"

Special Features:
"The Work of director Mark Romanek" A brand new documentary featuring Beck, Jay-Z, Rick Rubin, Michael Stipe, Janet Jackson, Trent Reznor, Anthony Kiedis, Gwen Stefani, Keith Richards and others.
"Romanekian" Ben Stiller, Chris Rock and Robin Williams discuss Mark's work.
"Making of 99 Problems"

Interviews and Commentaries
Individual artist and director commentaries for all the music videos.

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On the big screen, Glazer is known for having directed Sexy Beast and for having written Birth. Both films are excerpted here, but his music videos and commercials are the things to see. Glazer is British, so it is no surprise that his resume includes shoots with acts like Radiohead and Blur. His music video storyboards often portray a film noir sense of hopelessness, so he is a perfect match to work with these often mopey bands. His style is maybe best represented in UNKLE's "Rabbit in Your Headlights" where a hapless fellow is repeatedly run-over by cars. The video is at first amusing, but just becomes downright sad. Likewise his commercials show a fondness for the macabre. One for Stella Artois wine shows a gathering of priests on a frozen lake waiting for the delivery of a case of wine. When the delivery boy and the wine fall through the ice, guess which one the padres want to save?

DVD Details: 
Music Videos:
Radiohead "Street Spirit"
Jamiroquai "Virtual Insanity"
Richard Ashcroft "A Song for the Lovers"
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds "Into My Arms"
UNKLE "Rabbit in Your Headlights"
Blur "The Universal"
Radiohead "Karma Police"
Massive Attack "Karmacoma"

Wrangler "Ride"
Guinness "Surfer" (extended)
Guinness "Swim Black"
Guinness "Dreamer"
Volkswagen "Protection"
Stella Artois "Last Orders"
Stella Artois "Whip Round"
Levis "Kung Fu"
Levis "Odyssey"
Barclays "Bull" (with Samuel L. Jackson)
Barclays "Chicken" (with Samuel L. Jackson)

Interviews and Commentaries:
Including Nick Cave, Richard Ashcroft, Jamiroquai, Denis Levant, 3D, Blur and James Lavelle.

Sexy Beast (excerpt) "You're the Problem"
Interviews with Ray Winstone and Sir Ben Kingsley
Birth (excerpt) "Central Park"
Interviews with Nicole Kidman, Danny Huston, Harris Savides, Milo Addica and Jean-Claude Carriere.

Paul Kaye

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Everything on Corbijn's disc is musically oriented---a big stack of eclectic videos and various outtakes presented under the heading, "stuff." The videos are presented in chronological order, starting with 1984's "Dr. Mabuse" from Propaganda and running through the Killers' "All These Things That I've Done" from 2005. So theoretically, one could compare the two U2 cuts here; "One" from 1992 and "Electrical Storm" from a decade later and see how or if Corbijn's motif has changed. But really if that were your goal you would only come close to being satisfied after numerous viewings; and you would still only have conjecture. Some interesting pieces from the "stuff" category are an excerpt of a suitably weird film about Captain Beefheart and a quaint video by German group Palais Schaumburg called "Hockey." Made in 1983, "Hockey" was Corbijn's first foray into music video and it is interesting that it is buried in the "stuff" category rather than being the program's lead-off.

DVD Details: 
Music Videos:
Propaganda "Dr. Mabuse" 1984
David Syvian "Red Guitar" 1984
Echo and the Bunnymen "Seven Seas" 1984
Golden Earring "Quiet Eyes" 1986
Echo and the Bunnymen "The Game" 1987
Depeche Mode "Behind the Wheel" 1987
Joy Division "Atmosphere" 1988
Joni Mitchell with Peter Gabriel "My Secret Place" 1988
Depeche Mode "Enjoy the Silence" 1990
U2 "One" (director's cut) 1992
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds "Straight to You" 1992
Depeche Mode "Walking in My Shoes" 1993
Nirvana "Heart Shaped Box" 1993
Henry Rollins "Liar" 1994
Metallica "Hero of the Day" 1996
Metallica "Mama Said" 1996
Depeche Mode "Barrel of a Gun" 1996
Depeche Mode "It's No Good" 1997
Herbert Gronemeyer "Bleibt Alles Anders" 1998
Mercury Rev "Opus 40" 1999
Mercury Rev "Goddess on a Hiway" 1999
Joseph Arthur "In the Sun" 2000
Herbert Gronemeyer "Mensch" 2002
U2 "Electrical Storm" 2002
Travis "Re-Offender" 2003
The Killers "All These Things That I've Done" 2005

Beck and Dave Grohl "MTV Promos"
U2 The making of "Electrical Storm"
"Some Yo Yo Stuff" Excerpt from a film about Don van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart 1993
Travis "Love Will Come Through" (a home made video with Fran Healy) 2003
Depeche Mode "It's No Good" tour projections 2001
Palais Schaumburg "Hockey" (Anton's first music video) 1983
Front 242 "Front by Front" 1988
"NotNa" A documentary about Anton

Interviews and Commentaries:
With Depeche Mode, Travis, Michael Stipe, U2, Samantha Morton, Metallica, Nick Cave, Echo and the Bunnymen, Mercury Rev, New Order, Joseph Arthur, Kurt Cobain, Herbert Gronemeyer and others.

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"Where should I start?" Those were the first words out of the French director's mouth when he gave a presentation at New York University's Film School. But Sednaoui had no problems enthusiastically fielding questions and sharing his vision. Perhaps the most insightful thing he says comes in response to a student who asks him how much control he has over the video's content, responding that the process is "more like a discussion." And he's had some interesting discussions, having worked with high-strung artists like Bjork and Tricky. Sednaoui's presentation definitely leans to the exotic; these videos are as stimulating visually as the music is aurally. Sednaoui is clearly interested in making art. The videos are presented as Sednaoui has sequenced them, but they also can be viewed in chronological order if so desired.

DVD Details:

Music Videos:
Mirwais "I Can't Wait"
Tricky "For Real"
Red Hot Chili Peppers "Scar Tissue"
Mirwais "Disco Science"
R.E.M. "Lotus"
Bjork "Possibly Maybe"
Alanis Morissette "Ironic"
Tricky "Pumpkin"
Garbage "Queer"
Tricky "Hell is Around the Corner"
Massive Attack "Sly"
Youssou N'Dour & Neneh Cherry "Seven Seconds"
Bjork "Big Time Sensuality"
Bjork "Big Time Sensuality" (new night version)
Black Crowes "Sometimes Salvation"
U2 "Mysterious Ways"
Red Hot Chili Peppers "Give it Away"
NTM "Le Monde De Demain"
U2 "Discotheque" (new director's cut)

"Walk on the Wild Side" Short film inspired by Lou Reed's song
"Army of Me" Animation inspired by Bjork's song
"Acqua Natasa" Short film featuring Natasa Vojnovic
"Reve Reche" Stephane's first short film attempt

Interviews and Commentaries:
"34 minutes and 29 seconds of interviews" including Bjork, Bono, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Michael Stipe, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Shirley Manson, Tricky and more.

Stephane's presentation at New York University Film School

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CD Info and Links

Directors Label DVD Series 2
Label:Palm Pictures

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