Saturday, July 11, 2015

Being Spike Jonze: a visual review of a modern auteur!


I just had a weird epiphany.  Spike Jonze may be my favorite director working today.  I mean, we all know that Xavier Dolan is my favorite filmmaker...but I've made it clear that Dolan's auteur ascendance is a combination of brilliant ideas finding their voice in a very unique landscape that doesn't always mesh completely (his highs are higher than anyone else's, but he has some lows).  Spike Jonze has only made four feature films since delivering his debut back in 1999 (like, what?) and all four of them are, in one way or another, perfect.  While Dolan is probably my most rewarded modern filmmaker (because of having hands all over his films, from writing to directing to editing to costuming, he's wracked up 9 Fisti nominations and 6 wins, ATM), Jonze holds a pretty big Fisti record.

All four of his films are BP noms.  

Yes, all four of his films are deemed, by me, to be Top Five in their given years, and two of them actually win BP (he shares that with Dolan).

I guess I really love this guy, and it's funny because I didn't really know that until earlier today.  Like, I knew that I liked him and I obviously knew that I really liked his films (one in particular is one of my all time favorite films), but when I think of modern filmmakers that really excite me, my mind goes (after Dolan) to names like Fincher and Coppola and Wright...but...Jonze may actually be a favorite I didn't know I had.

I feel a list coming on.

Anyways, in thinking of his perfect filmography, I thought to myself...it's time for another batch of Visual Reviews!!!  It's been too long.  For those of you unfamiliar, this is when I take a director's entire resume and I review their work using stills from their films.  

Let's do this!


Being John Malkovich (1999) *****/*****

A deeply intimate look into one's self...
Unexpected moments of grace make this surprisingly personal...
Universal themes...
Poignantly judgmental...
It goes there...
Adaptation (2002) *****/*****

Two sides of the same coin...
Blissfully trippy...
Paranoid...
Completely original despite it's 'adaptation'...
Glimmers of beauty abound...
Where the Wild Things Are (2009) *****/*****

Like the warm hug of nostalgia...
It stirs in the soul the triumphant spirit of childhood...
Intimately personal and shockingly comforting...
It's all about the journey...
...and the fact that you can always come home!
Her (2013) *****/*****

Brilliantly observant...
Loneliness, set free...
Beautifully comfortable in it's expression of themes...
Hopelessly romantic...
That carefree plunge into love sets my heart a spinnin'

16 comments:

  1. You know what? I have not seen any of these films and they are all on my list of need to see! Love how you put this all together and, I see a theme in his work like all auteur directors. Oh I rented "Mommy" and will watch it this weekend. I will be interested what my hubby thinks since he has severe classic ADHD

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    1. First...I'M SO EXCITED YOU'RE GOING TO SEE MOMMY!!!!

      I can't wait to hear all your thoughts and your husband's thoughts as well. Please tell me that you'll review it on your blog!!!

      Next, pertaining to this post itself and Spike Jonze, you need to see these movies. They are all so varied and yet so visionary and truthful to Jonze as a director and an auteur.

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  2. There's almost no point in discussing about Spike Jonze. All his films are perfect. Like I can talk about how well written the scripts always are, or how on point the cast is from main to supporting actors or how visually effective and thought provoking the cinematography is but I would need a dictionary to make sure that I don't repeat the same words over and over. Great Job. I always loved your visual reviews. My favorite film of his is Where the Wild Things Are. But it could been any. That's the magic, any of his films could be my favorite. I love how versatile he is.

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    1. Yeah, he's a genius. My favorite film of his is also Where the Wild Things Are. It's a beautiful, mature work that just swells in my soul every time I see it.

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  3. I love these posts, man. Spike Jonze truly is one of the major geniuses of our generation. I particularly love your assessment here of Being John Malkovich, a movie that, like all of Jonze's films, get richer with each subsequent viewing. That film literally blew my mind and still does. It is, as you said, deeply intimate and universal in its themes. And it is an incredibly smart film as all of his are. Adaptation, likewise, is one of the most relatable and brilliant movies I've ever seen. Jonze and Kaufman are seriously a match made in movie heaven. Total game changers! I loved to see, in Her, a bit of a different Jonze, independent of Kaufman, but reaching more personal depths in the same vein. I love his work. Truly. And you'll be happy to know that I recently blind bought Where the Wild Things Are at a used bookstore on Blu-ray for $4. The things people get rid of!? Can't wait to watch it. Very soon now.

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    1. OMG! I can't wait to hear you're thoughts on Where the Wild Things Are!!!

      Yes, Being John Malkovich changed so much for me with each watch. Like, it was always clever and original and yet, the more I watched, the deeper it got and the more it touched me.

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  4. Great post! I think Jonze is a great filmmaker even though I'm not his biggest fan. Also, I think he needs to work with Charlie Kaufman more even though he, himself is a great writer both him and Kaufman seem to bring the best out of each other when they work together. I am yet to see one of his films, Where Wild Things Are.

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    1. Kaufman is arguably the most exciting screenwriter of his generation, but I think the maturity of Her proved that Jonze can write like the best of them.

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    2. I guess what I mean is that Kaufman needs Jonze more than Jonze needs Kaufman. I feel he is the only one who can truly bring his vision to the screen. Gondry is good but his track-record is very inconsistent. I mean, Synecdoche New York could have been a great film instead of a good one if it had someone like Jonze behind the camera.

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    3. I can get behind this. Kaufman is a fantastic writer, but he's not a very polished director. He's worked brilliantly with Gondry and especially Jonze and I'd love to see them collaborate again!

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  5. Jonze is one of my favorite filmmakers ever. The dude is just amazing in terms of creating beautiful visuals with some oddball stories and characters to care for. I await for what he does next. There will be a future Auteurs piece on him very soon but it will be around the time he will make his new film.

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    1. EEK! Can't wait to check out his auteurs piece!!!

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  6. I can't believe he only made four movies. The first three are on my watch list and Her is just wonderful. Great post!

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    1. It really is bizarre...only four?!?! But, they are four masterpieces, so...I'm good with this.

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  7. YAY! It's been too long since your last Visual Reviews post! Jonze is a brilliant filmmaker, no doubt. I'd give all of his films an A, except for Where the Wild Things Are (A-). I feel like I should revisit it though, since it's been over a year that I rewatched it. ;)

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    1. Yay! I need to get more of these worked up. UGH...so much to do, so little time!

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