i'm with the brand

Michel Gondry calls the emperor on the whole no clothes situation
March 16, 2010, 2:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

gondry and gaga

I’m sick and tired of people talking about Lady Gaga as if she’s some game-changing avant-garde breath of fresh air. Catchy as it may be, her music is resolutely derivative, but she’s somehow managed to distract everyone with an entrancing combination of hype, clothes, and infuriatingly affected speech–trickery! But wacky costumes do not a groundbreaking artist make. Luckily, I can stop feeling crazy (or can I?), because Michel Gondry agrees.

While the rest of the world treated the premiere of Lady Gaga’s why-does-it-exist video opus, “Telephone” as some sort of major cultural event (why??), Michel Gondry, visionary director of some of the most inventive films and music videos of this generation, declared himself “not interested.” Slam!

Read the exclusive interview on Movieline: Music Video Pioneer Michel Gondry on Lady Gaga: “I’m Not Interested”

In celebration of truly interesting, fun, innovative music videos and the artistry they celebrate–both musical and visual–here’s a couple vintage Gondry…

And one from another of my favorite music video-turned-film directors, Spike Jonze:


Shirts cleaner than an ad man’s conscience: Clorox’s Mad Men DVD Insert
clorox insert

The front of Clorox's Mad Men DVD insert: "Getting ad guys out of hot water for generations"

Almost all the brands advertising during the broadcast of Mad Men go for the same approximate strategy: demonstrate long brand heritage, show old-timey product shots of packaging changes over the years, maybe throw in some footage from vintage commercials, go retro retro retro, and ape the program’s throwback aesthetic and theme almost as if the show’s buttoned-up 60’s vibe is the only thing anyone who loves it cares about. I’m not saying they’re not fun, interesting, beautiful ads–in fact, kudos to BMW, Canada Dry, Clorox, et al. for tailoring the ads so well to their media placement–I’m just saying they all start to look the same one after the other, until you’re thinking, I get it, you’ve been around a long time. You’re hip to what this show’s about. Can we please get back to the story now?

I suppose I don’t envy them–trying to come up with clever, innovative branding to tie in on a show that revolves around clever, innovative branding is a lot of pressure. It’s hard not to be self conscious in that weirdly-meta creative environment, to be sure.

But Clorox rose to the occasion with their Season 2 Mad Men DVD insert. A simple single-sheeter tucked discreetly into the 3D shirt-box-lookalike DVD packaging (a tip of the hat to Mad Men’s consistently clever packaging team–the Season 1 DVD box, shaped like a Zippo lighter, was made of metal) featured an extreme closeup of a crisp white shirt collar like that on the outside of the box–except with a scandalous smear of lipstick, and the cheeky tagline “Getting ad guys out of hot water for generations”–a nod on the notorious womanizers of Mad Men. This simple execution managed to align the brand even better than before with the real reasons people love Mad Men, squeezing in a product benefit (and a little coupon on the back for all those desperate housewives…and househusbands?) while paying oblique homage to the characters and story that make the show great.

Clorox insert back

The back of the Clorox Mad Men DVD insert: "Saves the day while saving you half a buck"

Mad Men Season 2 DVD box

The Mad Men Season 2 box in which the insert came--the top part of the box had a clear cellophane pane just like a shirt box, and the box underneath had a shirt printed on it for a true 3D effect. The shirt's label cleverly reads "Menken's," after the department store owned by Don Draper's client-turned-secret-love

Paste magazine asks: Is Indie Dead?

Illustration by Samuel Bosma (via Paste)

A must-read for anyone who cares about culture: Paste’s Rachael Maddux asks the question: Is Indie Dead? in the cover story for the magazine’s February issue.

In an incisive and far-ranging analysis Maddux grabs for fistfuls of smoke trying to pin a definition on the word, but nevertheless expertly and wittily charts its history, influence, rise, and fall—explaining, among other things, the advertising-music-culture cross-ramifications of a pervasive sensibility built around precisely its non-pervasiveness.

Read the essay to find out just how the democratization of technology, an Internet that eats its young, morphing music industry models, and cultural co-option (co-option?) of scene have worked together to create (and in some ways, kill) one of the most unstoppable and influential forces in pop culture today: the paradoxically elusive and ubiquitous “indie.”

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis score The Road, just like in my dreams
January 5, 2010, 4:27 pm
Filed under: Music | Tags: , ,

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis

I’m thrilled but not terribly surprised to hear that Nick Cave and Warren Ellis collaborated on the score to the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s haunting novel, The Road. I haven’t seen the movie or heard the soundtrack yet, but it seems totally apropos given the fact that when I first read The Road, it was the duo’s impeccable work from The Assassination of Jesse James that mentally scored McCarthy’s stark prose for me—particularly this song:

I guess someone in Hollywood was thinking along the same lines. Cave and Ellis are masters of evoking the barren and haunting—a rather lovely thing indeed.

Carry the fire…so we can cook crickets with it
December 28, 2009, 8:39 am
Filed under: Advertising & Branding | Tags: , , ,
The Road

Rust flakes and tin-can botulism? Seconds, please!

Stumbled across this great little humor piece about a fictional cookbook based on the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s desolate (and beautiful; much recommended, yall) post-apocalyptic survival novel, The Road. Including indulgent recipes like “Mystery Meat Cooked Over Sterno Flame” and “A Cricket,” and promoted by an editor who expected that it would be “this season’s Julie & Julia,” Cooking on ‘The Road’: Homestyle Recipes From and Inspired by the Film would be funnier (less sad?) if it weren’t totally plausible–I mean, it’d hardly be the first inexplicable and mortifyingly misguided tie-in.

The Auteurs top 10 movie posters of the decade
December 22, 2009, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Art & Design | Tags: , ,
Where the Wild Things Are

My favorite movie poster in recent memory (not on The Auteurs' list)

Film site The Auteurs has released their top 10 movie posters of the decade. They have The Savages and Palindromes on there; me, I’m a little illustrated out–chalk it up to oversaturation. (I’ll take retro clever over forced whimsy, though–I love their pick of Woody Allen’s Anything Else). My favorites are the ones that resist the formulaic, the ones that are visually-arresting and unsettling, the ones that are enduring works in their own right, the ones that effortlessly and imaginatively evoke the film’s spirit (I mean, as branding artifiacts, shouldn’t they all?). The truncated close-ups, the larger-than-life, the unafraid-of-white-space, the bold-and-graphic; anything but this nonsense. Or this or this or this. (Seriously, Professor Hollywood’s School of Big Buck$ Postermaking?)

It’s not my list–I’m not even sure exactly what all I’d choose if it were up to me–but I see my sensibilities overlapping with theirs to a large degree. (My personal favorite if not of the decade, then at least of the year, I’ve shared here because it just deserves to be seen: the sublime first poster for Where the Wild Things Are. I was sad not to see it included in the Auteurs list but hey, taste is taste and 10 posters is only so many.) I’ve thrown together my favorites from their list for you to see below. View the rest, and some amazing runners-up at their site.

Girlfriend Experience

#7 on The Auteurs: The Girlfriend Experience

Funny Games

#1 on The Auteurs: Funny Games

40 Year-Old Virgin

#3 on The Auteurs: 40 Year-Old Virgin

I Am Trying to Break Your Heart

#4 on The Auteurs: I Am Trying To Break Your Heart