Real Gone Gondry

Probably the two most consistently intriguing film directors currently attempting to drag surreal filmmaking into the mainstream (or is it vice versa?) are Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry. Both are artists – true visionaries who like to explore deep into alternate realities. Quite simply, it seems as though their imaginations are turned up to 11.

So whether it’s Kaufman’s “Synecdoche, New York” or Gondry’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” that floats your boat, you always know that it’s a unique, personal work and not a typical, made-by-committee film.

The main difference between the two is that Kaufman’s vision frequently focuses on the dark side, while Gondry’s films tend to skew toward the vividly colorful, cheerful, almost child-like end of the spectrum.

Gondry’s bright, bold, technicolor vision is in full bloom on his new self-released DVD, “Michel Gondry 2: More Videos Before and After DVD 1,” the follow-up to the jam-packed, spectacularly wild and wonderful DVD collection of music videos, short films and commercials, “The Work of Director Michel Gondry,” that was released in 2003 by Palm Pictures.

(All three of the initial releases in Palm’s “The Work of Director …” series – which also featured Spike Jonze and Chris Cunningham – are quite eye-popping and highly recommended.)

On his sophomore compilation of short works DVD Gondry doesn’t quite hit the heights of his first go-round, but the 20 music videos on this disc will definitely make your head spin with delight.

Whether he’s working with the music of artists that you’ve likely never heard of (Really, I mean, who the heck are Leafbirds? Or Dick Annegarn?) or members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame All-star team (the Rolling Stones or Paul McCartney’s “Dance Tonight” featuring the ghost of Natalie Portman), Gondry’s unflagging imagination is simply mind-boggling.

Some of the videos feature spectacular special effects (Beck’s “Cellphone’s Dead” is brimming over with masterfully mysterious morphing), lo-tech art (the knitted-yarn, soft sculptures of Steriogram’s “Walkie Talkie Man”) or swirling line animation (Cody Chesnutt’s “King of the Game”).

My personal favorites are Donald Fagen’s “Snowblind” (a creepy-crawly kind of “Brazil”-meets-“The City of Lost Children” on bumper cars thing) and Michael Andrews’ sublime take on Tears for Fears’ “Mad World” that was originally heard in “Donnie Darko” (a deceptively simple overhead rooftop shoot).

The bonus features are equally intoxicating. Fortunately, there are behind-the-scenes, making-of segments on his of the featured videos. Then things get delightfully weird.

  • See Gondry solve Rubik’s Cube with his feet! And his nose!
  • See the Simpsons parody Gondry’s White Stripes video.
  • See Gondry living the dream of each and every self-respecting funk ‘n’ soul man, as he plays drums with Booker T & the MGs.

Now, I can’t wait to see what Gondry’s going to do with his upcoming super-hero movie – “The Green Hornet” starring (and co-written) by Seth Rogen.

Huh? Yeah, I told you this guy has imagination to spare.

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