kottke.org posts about Michel Gondry

Time travel is depressingApr 08 2013

In an interview last month with Esquire's Eric Spitznagel, Michel Gondry talked about his newest movie, The We and the I, and about how time travel is depressing.

ES: In your real life. If you, Michel Gondry, found a time machine and could go anywhere, to any period in history, where would you take it?

MG: I would travel back a few years ago and fix some screw-up I did.

ES: A personal or professional screw-up?

MG: In my personal life.

ES: Can you be more specific?

MG: I would come back and say yes to a girl. That's all. Actually, I find the whole idea of traveling back in time to be profoundly depressing.

ES: Really? Why so?

MG: Because I know the future. Living in the past, it would feel weird to know what's going to happen next. You couldn't escape it. That future's already in your head. You know it doesn't get better.

ES: You'd rather not know about the future?

MG: The future is about hope. If you travel from the present to the past, you don't have that hope anymore. You know how everything turns out.

ES: There are no surprises.

MG: No surprises, exactly! To me, that just sounds so... depressing.

Star GuitarOct 27 2009

Star Guitar music video. Music by The Chemical Brothers. Video directed by Michel Gondry.

The making of the Star Guitar music video.

Ever since this video blew my mind when I first watched it, I've wondered how it was made. Turns out Gondry tested the concept out on a sidewalk with oranges, shoes, videotapes, and drinking glasses. Alas, the making of doesn't cover the three months of post production required by the finished product, although the video isn't completely digital as you might expect:

The video is based on DV footage Gondry shot while on vacation in France. They shot the train ride 10 different times during the day to get different light gradients.

Still love that video.

Moving MarioJun 12 2008

Moving Mario: imagine Super Mario Bros as created by Michel Gondry. Check out the video to get the gist.

Harlem rent parties and Fats WallerFeb 25 2008

According to Wikipedia, a rent party is:

a social occasion where tenants hire a musician or band to play and pass the hat to raise money to pay their rent. The rent party played a major role in the development of jazz and blues music.

Further reading suggests that rent parties started in Harlem in the 1910s as a way to offset rising rents.

Harlemites soon discovered that meeting these doubled, and sometimes tripled, rents was not so easy. They began to think of someway to meet their ever increasing deficits. Someone evidently got the idea of having a few friends in as paying party guests a few days before the landlord's scheduled monthly visit. It was a happy; timely thought. The guests had a good time and entered wholeheartedly into the spirit of the party. Besides, it cost each individual very little, probably much less than he would have spent in some public amusement place. Besides, it was a cheap way to help a friend in need. It was such a good, easy way out of one's difficulties that others decided to make use of it. Thus was the Harlem rent-party born....

Jazz pianist Fats Waller was associated with these parties and lived a short but colorful life.

The ebullient young man with the dazzling jazz style was a big hit at the Sherman Hotel. His nightly audience included men with wide lapels and bulging pockets. One evening Fats felt a revolver poked into his paunchy stomach. He found himself bullied into a black limousine, heard the driver ordered to East Cicero. Sweat pouring down his body, Fats foresaw a premature end to his career, but on arrival at a fancy saloon, he was merely pushed toward a piano and told to play. He played. Loudest in applause was a beefy man with an unmistakable scar: Al Capone was having a birthday, and he, Fats, was a present from "the boys".

The party lasted three days. Fats exhausted himself and his repertoire, but with every request bills were stuffed into his pockets. He and Capone consumed vast quantities of food and drink. By the time the black limousine headed back to the Sherman, Fats had acquired severeal thousand dollars in cash and a decided taste for vintage champagne.

I was inspired to read about rent parties and Waller by this interview with Michel Gondry, director of Be Kind Rewind. Gondry says about his film:

It's important in the story that there's a parallel between what's happening in the film and what happened in the past with rent parties, which were very real. Fats Waller became the great musician he was through those parties. When someone could not afford the rent for one month, they'd make a party. You'd bring a dollar, and there would be a piano contest all night long. People making their own entertainment, that's exactly what it is.

Here's Waller performing one of his most well-known pieces, Ain't Misbehavin'.

Interview with Michel Gondry on his newFeb 21 2008

Interview with Michel Gondry on his new movie, Be Kind Rewind.

I hate cynicism. I wipe it from me. I don't like cynical people. I don't like cynical movies. Cynicism is very easy. You don't have to justify it. You don't have to fight for it.

Gondry also did a hilarious remake of the film's original trailer.

Update: Maybe Gondry got the premise for the movie from an old Nickelodeon show called Amanda, Please! Or not.

I missed the trailer for Be KindOct 04 2007

I missed the trailer for Be Kind Rewind, Michel Gondry's upcoming film starring Mos Def and Jack Black, when it came out back in August...perhaps you did too? The gist of the film: two video store clerks find all the tapes in the store are blank and set out to refilm all of the movies themselves.

Music video for the Softlightes song HeartJan 04 2007

Music video for the Softlightes song Heart Made of Sound features handmade typography, Post-It Notes, and stop-motion animation. See also: the opening credits for Napoleon Dynamite, Stefan Sagmeister, and Michel Gondry. (via buzzfeed)

Awesome. Director Michel Gondry recently posted aDec 20 2006

Awesome. Director Michel Gondry recently posted a YouTube video where he is pictured solving a Rubik's Cube with his feet. A few days later, this response debunks Gondry's effort as a stunt. When I read the title, I half-expected the person to claim that Gondry had used CGI to fake the solving, but that wasn't likely because Gondry doesn't like to use special effects in his films. The actual answer is decided low-tech and clever, just like his movies. BTW, here's someone solving the Cube with one hand in 20 seconds. (via cf)

Update: Regarding the CGI, then again.... (thx, oscar)

Profile of Michel Gondry, director of theSep 19 2006

Profile of Michel Gondry, director of the upcoming The Science of Sleep. An exhibition at the Jeffrey Deitch gallery in Manhattan accompanies the film's opening. View some of Gondry's short work (commercials, music videos) on YouTube.

Trailer for The Science of Sleep, directedJul 07 2006

Trailer for The Science of Sleep, directed by Michel Gondry. Michel Gondry? Michel Gondry. Michel Gondry. Michel Gondry.

Tags related to Michel Gondry:
movies video trailers music Be Kind Rewind games remix art

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