Michel Gondry, Jon Brion spread the sunshine on stage (and get the 'Knives Out' too)
It's been said by Bjork and Jim Carrey that the pleasure of working with gonzo Versailles-born director Michel Gondry is that he's like a big kid. That appetite for life lived with constantly wide eyes was on display last night at Flux's Cinema Tuesday event with Nike Sportswear at Montalbán Theater in Hollywood, where the "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" visionary treated an overflow audience to music videos, documentaries, Q&A and a covers jam session with musical alchemist Jon Brion.
Fidgeting in a director’s chair in front of a giant screen that projected images from his latest DVD collection, a wild-haired Gondry reveled in asides with each screening. For Radiohead’s “Knives Out,” he told his version of the well-known web gossip that Thom Yorke wasn’t pleased with the video. According to Gondry, he asked the famously cryptic lyricist if he had any ideas but Yorke demurred and gave Gondry creative license. Yorke later told their friend that the band, as Gondry put it, "wasted money for me to express my feelings" -- but Gondry also said he believes the singer has warmed to it, if Yorke can be said to warm to anything.
Gondry told a similar story about Kanye West. Initially, the Chicago design fetishist tracked down Gondry, insisting they work together. The "Block Party" director's original idea for “Heard ‘em Say” was “hardcore,” as he put it -- the auteur wanted to fill a department store with homeless people -- but West wanted to do something “more family-oriented, something sweet.” The result, posted above, was West and some little street urchins having their fill of a deserted Macy’s, with Adam Levine playing a security guard who unlocks the doors for them and sings his lines. Gondry said that though West “was not happy” with the end result, the two remain fans of each other. “His music,” Gondry said, “is amazing.”
For the Q&A that filled the time between screenings, Gondry delighted the crowd with tales of his craziest dream (involving a fish in a toilet bowl with Mick Jagger’s face) and a “terrible” video he made for Lenny Kravitz that never saw the light of day. When asked what artist he’d love to work with, Gondry said Michael Jackson, prompting much laughter from the crowd. “I have a soft spot for him.”
After a few more screenings -- including a documentary with Ayako Fujitani, the star of Gondry’s segment of the cinematic triptych “Tokyo!” who has a very famous judo-kicking dad that can’t be revealed here, lest we spoil the fun -- Gondry and Brion settled in upstairs for a raucous selection of Gondry favorites. With Gondry on drums, and Brion and Sebastian Steinberg on lots of everything else, the crew kicked off with Giorgio Moroder’s theme to “Midnight Express.” The rest of the 45-minute set spurred an impromptu dance floor (which was unbearably sticky with some energy drink mixer, the bain of sponsored events) with Daft Punk’s “Around the World,” 10cc’s “I’m Not in Love,” “The Green Hornet” theme (Gondry’s working on a movie version with Seth Rogen), a shred of “Wipe Out,” David Bowie’s “Fame,” and a cut from the “Eternal Sunshine” soundtrack that Brion helmed.
After the show, I got a few quick words with Brion, who was incredibly gracious and stood with folded hands, like a boy in a receiving line at church. When asked what he thought of Gondry as a drummer, he said, “Michel is beyond criticism. I love him. Everything he does is infused with the life force.” He did offer one wee critique though. “I will never understand his love for late-era Michael Jackson. I liked it when I was 12 years old but now?”