On a nearly daily basis, I become increasingly convinced that Spike Jonze may be the coolest--if not the best--artist working today. Although he'll probably always be described first and foremost as the guy who did the Beastie Boy's "Sabotage" video and the one for Weezer where they're jamming with Fonzie and the gang at Arnold's Drive-In, he's also done some of the most inventive films in recent memory (Being John Malkovich and Adaptation), brought new levels of hipster irony to the world of skate videos (shooting the Blind skate crew ripping to the Jackson 5, then driving their Lincoln into an enormous canyon), filmed some of the best spots for the Jackass crew, and gave one of the best dance performances of the past 10 years as Richard Koufey in a self-directed video for Fatboy Slim.
Besides his wildly imaginative visual trickery, most of Jonze's charm derives from his almost guerilla, DIY approach to filmmaking. Many of his most memorable videos were shot with small handheld cameras without shooting permits--he filmed the Beastie Boys in a strictly no-camera-allowed Vegas casino by holding the video camera casually at his side and putting a piece of black tape over the glowing "record" light. For another B-Boys video, he achieved an underwater shot by sealing his video camera in a Ziploc bag and dunking it (a trick which got the shot but ruined the camera).
In his recent TV commercial for Adidas' "first intelligent shoe," Jonze takes a few pages from fellow video wunderkind Michel Gondry's book to create his most lush and cinematic piece to date. Titled Hello Tomorrow, the 90-second spot is scored by Jonze's brother Squeak E. Clean and features Karen O. of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs doing a Julee Cruise/Lee Hazelwood post-trip-hop number, also titled Hello Tomorrow. The video features a guy waking up in a spot-lit bed in an otherwise dark room, his shoes floating over to his feet and lacing themselves up (very intelligent). As he ventures into the darkness in front of him, his shoes illuminate the space behind him, so we see the scenery in his wake as he runs into solid blackness. Adidas and Jonze steered clear of celebrity athletes for this one--in fact, the guy in the commercial just seems along for the ride. As the shoes do all the work, he just sort of follows along then crawls back into bed. This is like Harold and the Purple Crayon for hipsters--dreamy and magical stuff that involves sleeping and trippy waking moments courtesy of supernatural objects. Jonze must have been wearing two pairs of those intelligent shoes when he came up with this one.