Weekly Film Recap (Spike Jonze)

Spike Jonze.jpg

The career of Spike Jonze is unlike any other filmmakers. Starting off as a skate photographer for companies like World Industries, he found his first little bit of success in 1991 when he directed and redefined skate videos with his iconic skate video Video Days. After Video Days was released, a copy of it got in the hands of Sonic Youth and they contacted him about using some skater friends for a music video. This was his first introduction into the world of music videos.

From that point on, Spike spent the 90’s directing some of the most iconic music videos for artists like the Beastie Boys, Weezer, Dinosaur Jr, Biggie, Ludacris, The Pharcyde, Wax, and more. Then, the end of the 90s he was approached to direct his debut film Being John Malkovich. Now, Spike has directed 4 feature films, countless short films and music videos, and he has no intention of stopping anytime soon. Below are some of our favorite music videos of his as well as a review of his 4 feature films!

VIDEO DAYS     (dir. Spike Jonze)   Spike Jonze revolutionized the skate industry with his iconic and revolutionary photography.   Video Days  was the skate video that changed everything for both Spike and the sport. Spike set the standard for skate videos and photography with his creative approach to filming skateboarders. Video Days is widely regarded as the single most influential skate video since Spike could actually skate and follow around the skaters as they ride and do street tricks as opposed to the traditional way of just standing there and cutting shots of skaters going by and doing tricks. The film has different segments with different skaters including Mark Gonzalez, Jason Lee, and a young Guy Mariano.     5/5     WATCH: YouTube

VIDEO DAYS

(dir. Spike Jonze)

Spike Jonze revolutionized the skate industry with his iconic and revolutionary photography.

Video Days was the skate video that changed everything for both Spike and the sport. Spike set the standard for skate videos and photography with his creative approach to filming skateboarders. Video Days is widely regarded as the single most influential skate video since Spike could actually skate and follow around the skaters as they ride and do street tricks as opposed to the traditional way of just standing there and cutting shots of skaters going by and doing tricks. The film has different segments with different skaters including Mark Gonzalez, Jason Lee, and a young Guy Mariano.

5/5

WATCH: YouTube

SABOTAGE     (dir. Spike Jonze)   In my humble opinion, Sabotage is one of the greatest music videos ever made.  Made for the Beastie Boys for one of their most iconic songs, Sabotage is an homage to 70s crime films and television. Filmed in such an incredibly guerrilla way, it’s unpolished nature gives the music video it’s true sense of character.     5/5     WATCH: YouTube

SABOTAGE

(dir. Spike Jonze)

In my humble opinion, Sabotage is one of the greatest music videos ever made.

Made for the Beastie Boys for one of their most iconic songs, Sabotage is an homage to 70s crime films and television. Filmed in such an incredibly guerrilla way, it’s unpolished nature gives the music video it’s true sense of character.

5/5

WATCH: YouTube

BUDDY HOLLY     (dir. Spike Jonze)   The mid 90’s proved a successful time in Jonze’s life. He worked with the biggest artists of the day and got to work with the legendary Weezer to shoot two videos for songs off their iconic ‘Blue Album.’  Buddy Holly, perhaps the better of the two, shows Weezer in an homage to Happy Days. Jonze creatively intercuts footage of Happy Days, featuring both Ron Howard and Fonzie, to show them as if they were dancing along to Weezer. This isn’t just one of the best Weezer videos, but one of Spike’s as well!    5/5     WATCH: YouTube

BUDDY HOLLY

(dir. Spike Jonze)

The mid 90’s proved a successful time in Jonze’s life. He worked with the biggest artists of the day and got to work with the legendary Weezer to shoot two videos for songs off their iconic ‘Blue Album.’

Buddy Holly, perhaps the better of the two, shows Weezer in an homage to Happy Days. Jonze creatively intercuts footage of Happy Days, featuring both Ron Howard and Fonzie, to show them as if they were dancing along to Weezer. This isn’t just one of the best Weezer videos, but one of Spike’s as well!

5/5

WATCH: YouTube

BEING JOHN MALKOVICH     (dir. Spike Jonze)   Being John Malkovich was Spike Jonze directorial debut after 8 years of directing skate and music videos.  The film is very meta, as usual in all of Charlie Kaufman’s scripts, and hosts quite a few fun celebrity cameo appearances. John Cusack stars as Craig, a failing puppeteer who takes a job filing, because of his “quick hands.” His job is on the 7 1/2 floor of the building and the ceilings are so low that everyone has to walk around bent over. While working at the office late one night, he discovers a locked door hidden behind some cabinets. Once he gets it open, he discovers that it’s a portal leading straight into the mind of actor John Malkovich. Craig soon exploits this finding and begins to control John Malkovich as his own personal puppet.  The film really owes a lot of its power to its writer Charlie Kaufman. While Spike Jonze does an amazing job of bringing the story to life he doesn’t introduce as many as of his personal flares to the film as he did in his music videos. But sometimes that’s what a good director has to do when working with such a phenomenal script such as this, put aside his own personal traits that might be distracting from the importance that comes from a story like this.    4.5/5     WATCH: Putlocker (FREE), iTunes (RENT)

BEING JOHN MALKOVICH

(dir. Spike Jonze)

Being John Malkovich was Spike Jonze directorial debut after 8 years of directing skate and music videos.

The film is very meta, as usual in all of Charlie Kaufman’s scripts, and hosts quite a few fun celebrity cameo appearances. John Cusack stars as Craig, a failing puppeteer who takes a job filing, because of his “quick hands.” His job is on the 7 1/2 floor of the building and the ceilings are so low that everyone has to walk around bent over. While working at the office late one night, he discovers a locked door hidden behind some cabinets. Once he gets it open, he discovers that it’s a portal leading straight into the mind of actor John Malkovich. Craig soon exploits this finding and begins to control John Malkovich as his own personal puppet.

The film really owes a lot of its power to its writer Charlie Kaufman. While Spike Jonze does an amazing job of bringing the story to life he doesn’t introduce as many as of his personal flares to the film as he did in his music videos. But sometimes that’s what a good director has to do when working with such a phenomenal script such as this, put aside his own personal traits that might be distracting from the importance that comes from a story like this.

4.5/5

WATCH: Putlocker (FREE), iTunes (RENT)

ADAPTATION     (dir. Spike Jonze)   Spike Jonze’s second film was also written by Charlie Kaufman and their undeniable chemistry is even more evident the second time around!  Adaptation is even more matter than being John Malkovich was. This time around Charlie Kaufman rights himself into his own script. Nicolas Cage plays Charlie Kaufman as well as his fictionalized twin Donald. The two of them are both screenwriters but Charlie, the more introspective of the two, has a great deal of trouble adapting a book that he’s been assigned to write the screenplay for. The film opens with behind the scenes footage from the filming of Being John Malkovich and shows Kaufman (Cage) on set standing timidly off to the side. After going home after feeling unimportant on the set, he finds himself in an intense writer’s block. At his wit’s end, he decides to write himself into his own script, changing the entire concept of what the film was to be about.  In an additional plot line we see Meryl Streep as Susan Orlean, the author of the book about flowers Kaufman was adapting, as she goes through her journey of writing the book that was initially intended to be the story line of the film.  The first two acts of this film are very much like a documentary. Not in it’s visuals, but with how the story’s structured. Everything up to the wacky ending in the Florida Everglades is just a re-enactment of what Charlie Kaufman actually did when assigned to adapt a book about flowers into a screenplay. Spike Jonze effortlessly plays with our perception of time and location as he perfectly entwines the main story with Nicolas Cage and the second story with Meryl Streep and into one satisfying vision.    5/5     WATCH: Putlocker (FREE), iTunes (RENT)

ADAPTATION

(dir. Spike Jonze)

Spike Jonze’s second film was also written by Charlie Kaufman and their undeniable chemistry is even more evident the second time around!

Adaptation is even more matter than being John Malkovich was. This time around Charlie Kaufman rights himself into his own script. Nicolas Cage plays Charlie Kaufman as well as his fictionalized twin Donald. The two of them are both screenwriters but Charlie, the more introspective of the two, has a great deal of trouble adapting a book that he’s been assigned to write the screenplay for. The film opens with behind the scenes footage from the filming of Being John Malkovich and shows Kaufman (Cage) on set standing timidly off to the side. After going home after feeling unimportant on the set, he finds himself in an intense writer’s block. At his wit’s end, he decides to write himself into his own script, changing the entire concept of what the film was to be about.

In an additional plot line we see Meryl Streep as Susan Orlean, the author of the book about flowers Kaufman was adapting, as she goes through her journey of writing the book that was initially intended to be the story line of the film.

The first two acts of this film are very much like a documentary. Not in it’s visuals, but with how the story’s structured. Everything up to the wacky ending in the Florida Everglades is just a re-enactment of what Charlie Kaufman actually did when assigned to adapt a book about flowers into a screenplay. Spike Jonze effortlessly plays with our perception of time and location as he perfectly entwines the main story with Nicolas Cage and the second story with Meryl Streep and into one satisfying vision.

5/5

WATCH: Putlocker (FREE), iTunes (RENT)

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE  (dir. Spike Jonze)   His third film, Jonze adapted the famed children’s novel Where the Wild Things Are to the screen in one of the most overlooked animated films in recent years.  The movie follows the young isolated and lonely Max, who runs away from home and finds himself embarking on a life changing journey across the river to Where the Wild Things Are. When he arrives, he’s almost eaten but soon convinces these large beasts that he is in fact their king and that together they can live the idyllic life together. However, Max soon starts to realize that everyone has their problems and escaping them is not going to do any help.  The film is visually stunning and the mixed use of Animatronics, CGI, and suits are completely unnoticeable. These creatures were brought to life so beautifully that any fan of the book will fall in love with it immediately. Further than that, Jonze is able to accurately depict each of Max’s personal emotions into each of these creatures by re-using specific dialogue from his mother for example.    4/5     WATCH: Putlocker (FREE), iTunes (RENT)

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
(dir. Spike Jonze)

His third film, Jonze adapted the famed children’s novel Where the Wild Things Are to the screen in one of the most overlooked animated films in recent years.

The movie follows the young isolated and lonely Max, who runs away from home and finds himself embarking on a life changing journey across the river to Where the Wild Things Are. When he arrives, he’s almost eaten but soon convinces these large beasts that he is in fact their king and that together they can live the idyllic life together. However, Max soon starts to realize that everyone has their problems and escaping them is not going to do any help.

The film is visually stunning and the mixed use of Animatronics, CGI, and suits are completely unnoticeable. These creatures were brought to life so beautifully that any fan of the book will fall in love with it immediately. Further than that, Jonze is able to accurately depict each of Max’s personal emotions into each of these creatures by re-using specific dialogue from his mother for example.

4/5

WATCH: Putlocker (FREE), iTunes (RENT)

HER     (dir. Spike Jonze)   One of the finest films of the 2010’s also marked the sole writing debut of Spike Jonze, who previously made his films based on other people’s work.  Joaquin Phoenix stars as Theodore, a lonely man who’s dealing with a depressing divorce. When he feels that no one really understands him, he purchases a Siri-like operating system names Samantha (voiced by Scarlet Johansson) that he feels really gets him. After a few days of endlessly talking to his computer, he begins to strike up a romantic connection with Samantha.  Obviously since this is the only film of Jonze that he completely wrote himself, it would see that it would be his most personal and it is. Her feels like a pure meditation on loneliness, grieving, and coming to terms with your own faults. It feels like Jonze’s own personal letter to his ex-wife Sofia Coppola. Perhaps that’s looking too far into it, but the personality of this film resonates so deeply that it feels like Spike directly talking to us.    5/5     WATCH: Netflix

HER

(dir. Spike Jonze)

One of the finest films of the 2010’s also marked the sole writing debut of Spike Jonze, who previously made his films based on other people’s work.

Joaquin Phoenix stars as Theodore, a lonely man who’s dealing with a depressing divorce. When he feels that no one really understands him, he purchases a Siri-like operating system names Samantha (voiced by Scarlet Johansson) that he feels really gets him. After a few days of endlessly talking to his computer, he begins to strike up a romantic connection with Samantha.

Obviously since this is the only film of Jonze that he completely wrote himself, it would see that it would be his most personal and it is. Her feels like a pure meditation on loneliness, grieving, and coming to terms with your own faults. It feels like Jonze’s own personal letter to his ex-wife Sofia Coppola. Perhaps that’s looking too far into it, but the personality of this film resonates so deeply that it feels like Spike directly talking to us.

5/5

WATCH: Netflix