Mirrorball Best Of The Best

Mirrorball Best Of The Best


Reviewed by: George Williamson

When Mirrorball announces that they're creating a compilation of their favourite music promotional videos from the last 10 years, you should be fairly excited - this is the cream of an exceptionally rich crop. These are the videos that have transcended the popularity of the artist and the pictures have often become more memorable than the music.

Most of the directors you'd expect to be here - Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze, Mike Mills, Mark Romanek, Shynola - are present and some of their best work is on show. They're organised in chronological order and the first up is Spike Jonze with his 1996 video for the Wax track California. It's a deceptively simple concept - a flaming man runs down a street, waving to unfazed pedestrians - all filmed in a single slow motion tracking shot, but it is still breathtaking. Michel Gondry's contribution is one of his most intricately brilliant works: Cibo Matto's Sugar Water. Two girls leave their flat and go out for a walk before returning home and going to bed. Again, it sounds simple, but it is shot in splitscreen, one side playing in reverse, the other forwards, and each one follows one of the girls before they cross over in the middle onto to the other's screen, changing play direction. It sounds confusing but is executed in a way that makes it instantly intuitive when you watch it and yet brain achingly complex to try to explain; almost a Moebius trip.

Copy picture

Animation crew Shynola have a large presence on the programme, with three of their videos included - the best is their collaboration with Unkle for the anti-war short Eye For An Eye. A bucolic scene, a hillside filled with small beings eating fruit and making merry is interupted by planes dropping a gigantic multi-nippled creature, filled with angry wasps. Soon all of the little people are also transformed into vicious insects and are carried away to conquer another land. It's a modern parable that buzzes with dark energy.

Unkle make a second appearance with Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast) at the helm. A deranged man in a parka, babbling and stumbling through an underground road tunnel, is struck by car after car - the titular Rabbit In Your Headlights. Its obviously disturbing subject matter makes it easy to see why it was banned by MTV - it's far to realistic for comfort - but that only adds to its grim brilliance. A similar harshly unpleasant urban note is struck by Walter Stern's video for Audiobullys' We Don't Care, where a 10-year-old, proto thug - he looks like he might knife you and then piss on your corpse - walks around town, buys a pasty and goes to the pub, all under the shouted refrain of, "There's fings I haven't told you, I go out late at night, and if I was to tell you, you'd see my different side" - it's a properly frightening little film - the track was dubbed Hooligan House on its release.

Fortunately, there's plenty of light entertainment, too, with Blur's famous little walking milk carton video for Coffee And TV (Dir. Hammer and Tongs) and Edgar Wright's (Spaced, Shaun Of The Dead) short for Charlotte Hatherly's Bastardo - a pastiche of Eighties girls magazine annuals which was also in the Fresh Tracks 1 programme. Also, the Shynola video for Quannum's I Changed My Mind features their trademark animated squirrel which never ceases to amuse.

Of the videos here, the best - in my opinion - is Mark Romanek's for Johnny Cash. The music is a cover of the Nine Inch Nails song Hurt, but the dirge is far better suited to the aging country rocker. It's rare for something as short as a music promo to make you feel genuine emotion, but seeing an old and tired Cash singing along to images of his past - images of run down museums dedicated to him and archive footage of the good times - it's a swansong of a dying man's career and is as beautiful as it is indescribably sad.

Obviously there will always be a few things missing - personally I would have included at least one of Chris Cunningham's excellent works - but nevertheless this is a fantastic nostalgic trip for those au fait with music videos and a brilliant introduction to them for to those who are not. It's the best of the promo world, plus at the end there is a small bonus feature. I won't go into any detail here - other than to mention that it features chihauhaus, although not the greatest song in the world - but I can safely say it's one of the funniest things that I've seen this year.

Reviewed on: 26 Aug 2005
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The second selection of new promo videos from Mirrorball.

Director: Various

Writer: Various

Starring: Blur, Quannum, Unkle, Air, Radiohead, White Stripes, Audiobullys, Baby Bird, Faultline, Wax, Cibo Matto

Year: 2005

Runtime: 70 minutes

Country: UK/US


EIFF 2005

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