Video Digest: May 26, 2006

Vintage Tim Burton; vintage Sofia Coppola; vintage Michel Gondry; vintage Jim Henson; vintage Orson Welles

This week, an early film from Tim Burton called Vincent has been making the rounds. A charmingly dark animated short from 1982 about a little suburban boy who just wants to be Vincent Price, it’s probably the closest thing to memoir Burton can muster. It’s also narrated by Vincent Price, a year prior to his Thriller comeback. It’s great when you find early films by genius filmmakers and realize they were hacks once, too; this isn’t one of those times.

* * *

Vincent made me curious what other filmmakers’ early work was floating out there. Sofia Coppola’s first film, Lick the Star, was made in 1998—although the grainy quality looks more 1968—about the particular hell of female adolescence, a theme she would mine more successfully with someone else’s source material, The Virgin Suicides. Still, Lick the Star is notable for two reasons: 1) Playing on the gothy ‘80s obsession with VC Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic and 2) showcasing Coppola’s keen ear for pairing music and image. Cannes audiences may have booed her latest film, Marie Antoinette, but I’m a sucker for the trailer, which sets the decadence of Versailles against the modern flatness of New Order’s “Age of Consent.”

» Watch Lick the Stars, part 1
» Watch Lick the Stars, part 2
» Watch the trailer for Marie Antoinette

* * *

One of my favorite films of the last few years is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, whose director Michel Gondry had a well-known history in commercials (Gap, Levi’s) and videos (The White Stripe’s Lego-land epic “Fell in Love With a Girl”) before turning to feature films. What I didn’t realize, however, is that his career was effectively launched in 1993 with this bizzaro video for Bjork’s “Human Behavior.” From here, a film about mind-erasing technology just seems a natural progression.

* * *

I don’t know what to make of these early Muppets commercials from 1957. Voiced by Jim Henson shilling for something called Wilkins coffee, these spots aren’t so much funny as hilariously violent. (Don’t like Wilkins’ coffee? Bang! You’re dead.) That’s OK. In a few decades, this duo is gonna hit the road, meet Miss Piggy, and drive out to Hollywood. With much better costumes, I might add.

* * *

Sometimes more poignant than the early work is the later work. Orson Welles may be the man behind the most critically acclaimed directorial debut of all time—Citizen Kane—but that didn’t keep him from flubbing this toss-away commercial for Paul Masson wine. Remember—even geniuses get stupid drunk sometimes.

blog comments powered by Disqus