100videos (100videos) wrote,

#9: "El Scorcho," Weezer

Rank: 9
Artist: Weezer
Title: El Scorcho
Director: Mark Romanek
Year: 1996

[NOTE: The YouTube clip above is the version that aired on MTV. The director's cut has been posted by Universal Music Group, which sadly does not allow embedding; you can find that preferred version at this link.]

There's a rule of thumb that film critic Roger Ebert mentions frequently in his reviews: It's not what the movie is about, it's how it's about it. Remind me to thank him for that, because I find that the only way I can talk about why I think "El Scorcho" is one of the best videos ever made is to quote Ebert, replacing "movie" with "video." There is no inherent reason why it should be so brilliant. The basic setup is your old been-there, done-that, band-playing-together-in-a-room-recording-studio-or-what-have-you bit. There is one bit of "concept" involved—how many videos do you know of that are all about the lighting?—but even that isn't something to get totally jazzed over. Within these mundane walls, however, Mark Romanek wields some major directorial genius. What we have here is a goofy, wonky song by a goofy, wonky album; were they to play it live in a studio or rehearsal space, it would be a goofy, wonky performance. Fair enough. What Romanek does is to turn expections on their ear, by taking that goofiness as seriously as possible. He moves what should be a casual living room setting to the middle of a vast rehearsal/performance space. He has the band goof around as expected, but to do so completely deadpan. (My favorite moment is the most bored drumbeat in the history of rock and roll, just after the 2:40 mark.) And then he films the whole thing with some of the most loving and meticulous cinematography I've ever seen in a music video. It's shot like a 35mm widescreen documentary, as if they were capturing what is predicted to be an important moment in musical history—a moment that involved a guy sticking his tongue through a piece of paper with a cartoon face scrawled on it. And let's not forget the lighting thing, which turns out to be even more radical than it sounds on paper. Romanek hadn't entered the world of feature films at that point, not yet, but with "El Scorcho," you can tell that not only did he so, so want to, but that, without a doubt, he absolutely should.

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