Check out the previous entry: David Fincher’s Top 10 Music Videos

The music video is an interesting and rewarding artform to explore, but one that doesn’t get enough attention from those who love film. While music videos as we traditionally think of them are unarguably mired in the world of the commercial, this doesn’t prevent them from serving as an amazing bridge between music, art, and cinema. A perfect format for short-storytelling, aesthetic exploration, tone poems, and (most importantly) experimentation, it is the playground of filmmakers and artists who are often pulling off the most fun and inventive accomplishments of anyone working with motion-pictures. Each Renn Loves Music Videos takes a look at a batch of music videos –new, old, weird, radical, classic, experimental, and everything in between– to try and figure out what makes each one special. Keep in mind that many older videos aren’t available in magnificent quality. Graphic photo: Nathan Jones

Tom Waits – “Hell Broke Luce”



I suspect a great many people newly discovered the brilliance of Tom Waits a couple weeks ago when the ’79 interviewwith the musician in which he sports some mannerisms that surely inspired a notable villain. That’s probably the second or third time that video has made the viral rounds (stopping no one from writing about it as if it were just discovered), but hey, eyeballs on Mr. Waits are always good for Earth. In any event, as great as he is (and will be) in movies, it is grungy, crunchy, bar-shaking, war-halting, thunderous blues, folk, industrial vaudeville, and experimental rock music that makes up the core of Tom Waits blessed presence on this planet. Growling across his dozen+ albums, Waits exists as his own sort of beautiful black hole in the music galaxy. No light bounces out, so it’s hard to really see and characterize the man’s work accurately, but damn if it’s not beautiful in a way that makes you not mind being sucked into oblivion. This video from filmmaker and photographer Matt Mahurin is typical of the director’s gloomy work, but it’s a fabulous complement to Waits song. Gritty, violent, and filled with war, there’s also a black humor and chipper exploration of the dark that is perfectly fitting for Waits.

via A/V Club

Passion Pit – “Constant Conversations”

I’m not usually into these SUPER DUPER bourgeois videos of pretty white people prancing about in front of pregnant images and Gatsby-like, pre-orgy tableaus, but this one has Peter Bogdonavich, and I kind of like that it looks like a Von Trier film is going to break out at any moment if these people aren’t careful. There admittedly is an exceptionally beautiful young lady with big eyes in the video –and a snake!–but the video doesn’t inspire me to do the mental gymnastics to pull substance out of it.

Antony And The Johnsons – “Cut The World”


Here we hit an exceptionally gorgeous video from director Nabil for a group I’m not entirely familiar with, but have drawn me in with their star-studded short. The video stars Willem Dafoe, Marina Abramović, and Carice van Houten and it impresses by being nearly 5 minutes long, dreamy, with a measured pace, and yet I was entranced the whole time. The concept is very simple, shocking, and you should definitely watch the thing before I blather on any further.

Videos like this are my absolute favorite, as they use this unique form to find some tiny, granular emotion or social subtext and just kind of stab at it in an interesting way. This video doesn’t teach us any grand lessons about women in the workplace or misogyny or equality, but it evokes these things, and uses a little subversive beauty and violence to do something cool with them.

The rest of these videos are others by this director, Nabil, that I wanted to share with you.

via Ryan Stewart

Frank Ocean – “Novacane” 


Nabil is often on some dreamy, meandering shit with his music videos, but he’s also just as well known for his thumping hip hop videos (often with Kanye West). For this great Frank Ocean track, Nabil merged his two sensibilities for this hallucinatory (lightly NSFW) video that uses lots of effects to stitch together shots, overlay ghostly images, and subtly warp Ocean’s face. It’s extremely effective and accentuates the song perfectly. The director is a fan of long, slow single-shot pans through a fixed environment, but I think this is the best example.

Kanye West – “Welcome To Heartbreak” 


This is an early collaboration between West and Nabil, but I still consider it one of their best. For years I’ve collected screen captures of what I consider beautifully distorted images resulting from keyframe compression and other low-quality video artifacts (or “pixel moshing” as some call it), so it kind of blew my mind to run across this video for the first time. It’s a gorgeous exploitation of that distinctive video artifacting, and implemented with perfect precision. I love the transitions, the way it accentuates West’s use of auto-tune, and the brief switch from widescreen to fullscreen makes my blood flow in places you don’t want to hear about. This is a new favorite.

If you’d like to see more of Nabil’s work, hit his website.

That’s it for this week!

I appreciate you taking the time to read through this column, and I hope you’re looking forward to more.

I’m very much open to suggestions so if there’s a video you’d like to see appear, shoot me the name and a link to a place where it can be watched. I’ll make sure to let everybody know who submitted it. General feedback is also very welcome, via email, or on twitter… @RennBrown.

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