Artists who?ve worked with him describe Mark Romanek as "meticulous" and "demanding." Yet, the biggest names in the business have clamored to work with the mercurial helmer, because they know he'll make them look good: Mad... more »onna ("Rain"), No Doubt ("Hella Good"), etc. Along the way, the Grammy winner has been behind some of the world's most famous--and infamous--videos.
Read our interview with Mark Romanek. On the groundbreaking side, there's Lenny Kravitz's exhilarating "Are You Gonna Go My Way," which made the musician a star in one fell swoop. On the controversial side, there's Fiona Apple's teasing "Criminal," Nine Inch Nails' macabre "Closer," and Jay-Z's apocalyptic "99 Problems"--the latter two in director's cut editions. In another class entirely, is Romanek's heartbreaking video for Johnny Cash's "Hurt." More than a promo, it's an elegy for a legend. Despite an interview with Robin Williams, this collection otherwise overlooks Romanek's features, One Hour Photo and Static. --Kathleen C. Fennessy See More
Be sure to check out The Director's Label Boxed Set Vol. 2, featuring The Work of Mark Romanek, and volumes by Jonathan Glazer, Anton Corbijn, and Stéphane Sednaoui.« less
"Where the first series released included the impressive work of Chris Cunnigham, Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze, this new series features Stephane Sednaoui, Mark Romanek, Jonathan Glazer and Anton Corbijn.
Besides a collection of remarkable videos from the last 15 years, we can also see a documentary, pictures and a glimpse through Mark's entire body of work. Also, commentaries for all his videos.
THE WORK OF DIRECTOR MARK ROMANEK Jay Z - 99 Problems (director's cut) Linkin Park - Faint Red Hot Chili Peppers - Can't Stop Johnny Cash - Hurt Audioslave - Cochise (director's cut) No Doubt - Hella Good (director's cut) Mick Jagger - God Gave Me Everything Janet Jackson featuring Joni Mitchell and Q-Tip - Got Til It's Gone Fiona Apple - Criminal Nine Inch Nails - Perfect Drug Beck - Devil's Haircut Weezer - El Scorcho (director's cut) Eels - Novocaine for the Soul Sonic Youth - Little Trouble Girl Michael & Janet Jackson - Scream (director's cut) Madonna - Bedtime Story R.E.M. - Strange Currencies G. Love & Special Sauce - Cold Beverage Nine Inch Nails - Closer (director's cut) David Bowie - Jump, They Say Madonna - Rain Lenny Kravitz - Are You Gonna Go My Way Keith Richards - Wicked as it Seems (director's cut) En Vogue - Free Your Mind kd lang - Constant Craving
Special Features -A brand new documentary featuring Beck, Jay-Z, Rick Rubin, Michael Stipe, Janet Jackson, Trent Reznor, Anthony Keidis, Gwen Stefani, Keith Richards and others. -Romanekian: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock and Robin Williams discuss Mark's work. -Making of 99 Problems
Interviews and Commentaries Individual artist and director commentaries for all the music videos.
52 Page Book Includes photographs by Mark Romanek and Spike Jonze interview with Mark.
I would've like to have seen Romanek get the treatment Jonze
Clare Quilty | a little pad in hawaii | 09/23/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry discs had dense, worthwhile documentaries and extra features.
While the music videos are great, the rest of this Romanek disc feels a bit slap-dash. The only extras are a press-kittish "making of" for "99 Problems," a joke doc and a more serious profile with talking heads talking about what a brilliant guy he is. I don't dispute that statement -- and I could stand an entire movie of Rick Rubin just chatting away -- but a brilliant guy deserves a more penetrating, substantive look into his work.
Even the commentaries are simply soundbites taken from the documentary (uh, rip!).
Still, we do get some fantastic videos -- especially "99 Problems"; Johnny Cash, "Hurt" (believe the hype; it transcends the medium); Fiona Apple, "Criminal" (one of the sexiest-yet-most-cynical videos ever made); Beck's "Devil's Haircut"; "Closer"; and especially Sonic Youth's Little Trouble Girl," which may be my favorite video ever made."
The King of Music Videos?
David R. Burton | Boston, MA USA | 11/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mr. Romanek is indisputably the king of the music video, and he's really not my favorite from this collection either. He might possibly be the most talented director featured in this series though, and unlike Corbijn, his resume is incredibly diverse, unless you believe Jay-Z and Rivers Cuomo to be pretty similar guys. Maybe that's the reason why I haven't really gotten into Romanek too much over the years - I only listen to a portion of the bands he's worked with. We've all heard of them before though, because almost every artist here has had at least one platinum record, MTV award, and hit single in the US.
One thing that does tie all of Romanek's work together is his ability to take chances, be daring, and somehow make consistently great videos. Instead of just working with artsy, underground acts, he dares to take the mainstream to the next level. Everything from Jay-Z's 99 Problems to Fiona Apple's Criminal explores an area that is likely offensive or irritating to some people, and in my opinion, this is the sign of a great director. There are cases where his work is much more conservative, and this is precisely where he misses the mark to some point.
The three best videos from this collection, Johnny Cash's Hurt, Nine Inch Nails' Closer, and 99 Problems, show off how great Romanek can be at times. Cash's Hurt, which takes footage of the sick and weary man in black, is hard for some people to watch on its own, but the contrast of this imagery with young photos of Cash and with June Carter only heighten the power of this video - again, I've been with people who left the room because they couldn't handle it. Then again, it's also a crowning achievement that rivals the power of a great film. Closer, which could have easily inspired the film Seven, also works from mashing together a collage of disturbing images, although there's a subtle humor that seems to parallel Reznor's "animalistic" lyrics. And 99 Problems is probably the most unique hip hop video period, showing the ghetto in a way that was never realized by hip hop directors - this is probably why Jay-Z chose Romanek or vice versa, and it worked out brilliantly.
Romanek's videos are definitely the best part of his disc. There is a humorous short film called Romanekian, which has a great quote from Chris Rock - something like Mark can make you like a crappy song with his videos. This disc also has the best director commentary of the four, and there's always those mishaps in the videos that are borderline hilarious. If you liked One Hour Photo, Romanek's recent feature film, then you'll like that section, too. Honestly, I enjoyed hearing him talk about the film more than actually watching it - he's capable of so much more. And after getting a chance to watch this compilation of his work, you'll probably agree with me."
Mark Romanek - Best Of The Director's Label series so far!
Felix Felicis | Hogwarts School Of Witchcraft And Wizardry | 09/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am a big fan of short-film forms of media, especially in the music video format, because it forces the director to convey his/her visual companion to the song in a very limited amount of time - often forcing the more talented ones to think outside the box and create something more abstract, complex, and satisfying then most feature films. I picked up the Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze sets almost immediately because I knew their movie and video work quite well, and I was not disappointed with either set (Chris Cunningham's set was too limited and disturbing for me, though he is also undeniably brilliant). Of the second series, I bought the boxed set and this disc is easily the best of the bunch.
Mark Romanek's work in this medium is my favorite for several reasons. for one thing, he does not repeat himself in overall theme or approach (maybe reusing floating motifs occasionally), but finds what fits the song and the essence of the artist and manages to capture this on film. Just look at the two most personal (and for my money, best) videos on this set, Jay-Z's controversial "99 Problems" and Johnny Cash's haunting and stunning cover of NiN's "Hurt". you see right away that they are staggeringly unique. However, both pieces manage to relate completely to the songs, sum the the artist's entire career and background, contain stunning visual imagery and become emotionally engaging in different ways - the first time I saw the Jay-Z video I was shocked at the bleak finale, while the Cash video moved me (and many others, if the included documentary is any indication) to tears. It is amazing that Romanek is able to evoke so much from his collaborators in such a short amount of time.
Some other highlights on this fantastic set (thanks to whoever gave the complete listing) include NiN's infamous "Closer", featuring creepy abstract gothic imagery and shot entirely by hand-crank camera; Fiona Apple's ferociously powerful and seductive "Criminal" video; Michael and Janet Jackson's futuristic (and notoriously expensive) faux-battle in "Scream"; and Lenny Kravitz's infectious whirlwind light show in "Are You Gonna Go My Way?". If you are even remotely interested in film or music video, or are aware of the artists in this set and enjoy their work, I highly recommend picking this up IMMEDIATELY. As a bonus, every video features commentary from Romanek and usually also from the artists involved, and the documentaries alternate between highly informative and explorative to just plain hilarious - Chris Rock, Robin Williams, and Ben Stiller mercilessly shredding Romanek to pieces in "Romanekian" is funny as hell!"
Redeemed the music video medium
Mr. Cj Jothi | London, England | 01/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Everyone knows Mark Romanek's work, even if they have never heard of him. From Madonna to Michael Jackson to Coldplay he has, over the past 10/15 years, been the most vital music video director around. Whilst I prefer David Fincher's work, and find the likes of Francis Lawrence and Jonathan Glazer to also be phenomenal, Romanek has somehow become the undisputed king of music videos.
Either pushing the envelope from a technical or iconographic standpoint Romanek has always strived to create art. It just so happens his art is commercially viable, being one million times more effective than the awful commercial drivel produced more often than not by the likes of Hype Williams, Paul Hunter, and Joseph Kahn.
Whilst I feel he is as responsible as Michael Bay for creating an appetite for fast, 3 second edits, he is also responsible for creating imagery that provokes a deep emotional response that often lingers for the rest of the day. Whilst his gothic imagery of the mid to late nineties has now become vacuous and cliche, at the time it was nothing less than groundbreaking. His current work (see Linkin Park, Coldplay, Johnny Cash and Jay Z) is however arguably his best work to date, so hopefully in 10 years time we will all be asking for Volume 2 of his work.
As for the DVD package. Well it is a must for all aspiring film/video directors, and contains solid commentaries (even if they aren't actually typcial commentaries, but more lifted interview quotes played over the videos) The extras reveal a perfectionist, uncompromising figure who will quite happily push pampered artists to their limit to get the shot he wants. I'm both scared and in awe of him, and hope that unlike Fincher he will continue to make more great videos in the years to come!"