Spike Jonze: To Die By Your Side

Spike Jonze: To Die By Your Side

To Die By Your Side (Mourir Auprès de Toi) is a tragicomic stop-motion animated short film co-created by the celebrated filmmaker Spike Jonze and designer Olympia Le-Tan. After spending five years adapting Maurice Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are, Jonze’s more recent short films include last year’s robot love story, I’m Here, and this year’s Arcade Fire collaboration, Scenes From the Suburbs. To Die By Your Side is his latest short film, which premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival’s Critics’ Week and was first presented online yesterday at NOWNESS.com.

A tale to pierce the heart, the star-crossed love story is set on the shelves of Paris’s storied Shakespeare and Co. bookstore. When night falls, an old Parisian bookseller closes the small shop, and a klutzy skeleton springs off the cover of Macbeth and falls for Mina, the flame-haired damsel from Dracula. Enlisting French filmmaker Simon Cahn to co-direct, the team wrote the script between Los Angeles and Paris over a six-month period of time, before working night and day animating the 3,000 pieces of felt that Le-Tan had cut by hand.

To Die By Your Side is a delightfully whimsical, humorous and poignant animated felt short film: be sure to watch it to the end!

Spike Jonze: To Die By Your Side

(Best Watched in Full-Screen Mode)

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Scenes From the Suburbs: Navigating an Oppressive Dystopia

Scenes From the Suburbs: Navigating an Oppressive Dystopia

I wish I could remember every little moment,
But I can’t/ Why do I only remember the moments that I do,
I wonder what happens to the others.

Scenes From the Suburbs is a 30-minute short film directed by Spike Jonze, a companion piece to Arcade Fire’s Grammy-winning third album, The Suburbs.  The movie premiered this year at Germany’s Berlinale Festival and was screened the SXSW Film Festival in Austin.

The film is a meditation on life, a remembrance of things past by a group of friends who spent a languid summer together in an unnamed town that was taken over by the army. Back then, a summer, so long ago. They couldn’t leave town, because outside the country was at war, and the military controlled life and all the  gateways. The teenagers wandered aimlessly about town. Winter was a long way off, and love and longing and friendship still meant everything.

Scenes From the Suburbs: Navigating an Oppressive Dystopia

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Spike Jonze’s I’m Here: A Hauntingly Heartbreaking Robot Romance

Spike Jonze’s I’m Here: A Hauntingly Heartbreaking Robot Romance

I’m Here is a 30-minute short film (HD full-version presented here) by filmmaker Spike Jonze, a film that’s haunting, beautiful, whimsical and overwhelmingly heartbreaking all at the same time.  I’m Here gives an interesting look at an alternative world, where robotic humanoids live and work alongside the regular human population.  The simple, elegant visual storytelling that Jonze employs is surprisingly affecting, although in a potentially dark way.  The film is full of originality and the kind of mysterious mythology that will have sci-fiction enthusiasts wishing they could spend more time in the world he created.

Spike Jonze’s I’m Here: A Hauntingly Heartbreaking Robot Romance

(Best Watched Here in HD Full-Screen Mode)

An on-line version of the film is available to view here.

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We Were Once A Fairytale: The Artist’s Coup de Grâce

We Were Once A Fairytale: The Artist’s Coup de Grâce

We Were Once A Fairytale is a new short film directed by Spike Jonze, in collaboration with singer-rapper Kanye West.  The film is set in a hip-hop nightclub, which is overflowing with drinks and beautiful ladies.  From the very beginning of the film, the action is fragmented, the background music is tweaked to a level of disturbing distortion and the lighting conjures up delusional effects.  Jonze’s filmmaking cinematography and sound design skills authentically render the feeling of being extremely bewildered in a disorienting hot-spot nightclub.

The short film attempts to lampoon Kanye West’s well-known arrogance by evincing more self-conceit and self-deprecation, with a bizarre, hallucinatory ending that features a small demon-like furry rodent and a form of Samurai seppuku/hari-kari.  At the beginning of the film, Kanye drunkenly staggers around the club while one of his songs plays in the background, asking everyone if they like the tune and inappropriately trying to hit on various women in the club.  Later the scene changes, and Kanye thinks that he’s ended up  in a VIP room for a sexual tryst with a beautiful young woman, only to wake up startled and dejected when he discovers that she was really only the couch.  At that point, the movie spirals out of control, as Kanye rushes downstairs to the bathroom, vomits torrents of red paper rose petals and curls up on the bathroom floor.

At the very end of the film, what can only be described as a demonic monkey pops up to torment the Heartless hit-maker.  The heavily symbolic birth/ death scene at the conclusion of the film is quite disorienting, but one that is to be expected from the envelope-pushing Spike Jonze, who always shies away from the more obvious imagery.  In lampooning West’s self-indulgent public behaviors and image, Jonze transforms Kanye West into a more sympathetic character, at least on film, helping the singer to rid himself of whatever demons reside within him in a cathartic, moving and powerful final scene.

In summary, We Were Once A Fairytale is certainly not a children’s fairytale movie, but rather a fairly disturbing, possibly awesome, but unquestionably super-bizarre work of art from director Spike Jonze.

We Were Once A Fairytale: The Artist’s Coup de Grâce

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