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Modest Mouse - People As Places As People (Dir: Andy Bruntel)

mva, October 24, 2007 at 4:40:39 AM CEST

i second whoever said that modest mouse has crappy videos. i don't get bruntel. i didn't even get bonnie prince billy that people raved about.

captainmarc22, October 24, 2007 at 5:37:02 AM CEST


for a band-free video on a budget, this was pretty good stuff.

welovemusique, October 24, 2007 at 6:00:40 AM CEST

Direct Link to MOV

arno-s, October 24, 2007 at 9:42:19 AM CEST

i like this a lot - my favorite of what i've seen from andy.

kevathens, October 24, 2007 at 11:56:15 AM CEST

Kind of a weird ending, but that was pretty good. For comparison: Quentin Dupieux's Party People.

marlkarx, October 24, 2007 at 3:12:37 PM CEST

Yeah, weird ending,.but it has a unique tone and was totally entertaining all the way through. The syrup bottle refilling totally caught me off guard and gave me a good laugh. Definitely one I'll remember for some time.

videoburger, October 24, 2007 at 3:25:43 PM CEST

This may be the best Modest Mouse video I've seen. Strange and singular. Similar to Dupieux's video in the kissing scene but it feels naturally part of the narrative here and really nothing else the two videos have in common. Well, aside from two very beautiful ladies!

gondro, October 24, 2007 at 3:36:37 PM CEST

Wow! Ace promo! I likes this lots. Narrative on a small budget is not an easy endeavour and this pulls it off effortlessly. Or so it seems. And it got a laugh out of me which is rare for a promo.

Thank heavens no one's made any 'got wood' jokes.

rm82, October 24, 2007 at 3:43:11 PM CEST

I like it. Maybe love it? Maybe too much?

rm82, October 24, 2007 at 3:46:30 PM CEST

Does someone know what the actual budget on this was? It sounds like everyone knows it was small but with the costume and the effects I'm just wondering how small. I mean, it is Modest Mouse. They have money, right?

It looks like it was shot on film.

bff wtf, October 24, 2007 at 3:53:06 PM CEST

excellent. it started to get a wee bit weird towards the end but then all came together with that last look over the shoulder and smile.

the others in this group of promos were 10k so I'm going to say the budget on this was the same. impressive.

amandalee, October 24, 2007 at 4:01:20 PM CEST

I really liked it. I'm just pissed someone beat me to that 'treemendous' pun ;)

eiksonvideo, October 24, 2007 at 4:17:13 PM CEST

It made the track worth listening to.

I doubt this way made for a 10k budget though. How do you guys know this stuff?

captainhairy, October 24, 2007 at 4:29:40 PM CEST

Elkson: same deal as those death cab videos (1 video for every song on the album), except the budgets are all 10K instead of 5K. The motion theory one was separate and had a bigger budget.

eiksonvideo, October 24, 2007 at 6:41:51 PM CEST

Are they also making a DVD or something? I've only seen the one for Invisible on here and some of the green screen contest videos.

It looks like they pulled off a ton for 10k.

abused, October 24, 2007 at 7:44:54 PM CEST

The budget was 10K. It was shot on super 16 over a three day period. Many many favors were pulled to up the production value. I'm glad someone noticed it was shot on film.....thank you very much!

winchandpulley, October 24, 2007 at 8:35:42 PM CEST

Love it, love it, love it. Andy is really tapping into something magical here. It started with his Bonnie video and this is kinda the next step in the evolution. It's a really great mesh of nature and suburban life.

I really love it.

Of course, I'm biased because my usual DP shot it, and they used some of my old film to shoot it.

Hold your horses for Andy Bruntel and Bucky Fukumoto's video for St. Vincent. It takes these ideas that have been brewing in Andy's noggin and puts a really beautiful, simple, artful aesthetic it them.

lusk81, October 24, 2007 at 9:24:00 PM CEST

It's Quirky!

spit, October 24, 2007 at 9:46:05 PM CEST

lusk: Great article. Interesting to look back at antville's monthly 'best of' digests within this context.

lusk81, October 24, 2007 at 10:07:50 PM CEST

SPIT: Furthermore, trends in film/video making in general. The best point made is how serious 'not mattering' is to works of quirk (this video being an easy example).

I almost want to pen a complementary essay on the notion of 'hip' with its nihilistic posturing and adolescent fashion pause. For the two essays would comprise almost 99% of what antville deems 'amazing'.

spit, October 24, 2007 at 11:04:01 PM CEST

Lusk: So who would be the opposite of this? In the world of music videos, as well as film?

For the record, I think this particular video is very cute and endearing, but after reading that article I'm not sure what that even means anymore.

marymaker, October 24, 2007 at 11:20:16 PM CEST

Thanks for posting that article. Somewhat of an interesting read but I found it to be rather lazy reporting even for an op-ed piece. The writer seemed fueled more by contempt ( or jealousy? ) for Ira Glass than an honest desire to encourage authenticity of emotion.

I can't really say that I ever put enough value into music videos that I've ever wanted them to "matter". It's entertainment. Andy's Cursed Sleep video definitely had an emotional effect for me but not every song deserves that sort of treatment.

And by the standards of the article I'd say this was too weird to be "quirk". There's definitely humor but also a very strange emotional and moody undertone. The song itself didn't do anything for me so the video was fighting against it the whole time. I think it would have been an interesting narrative to put against a more "sentimental" track.

lusk81, October 24, 2007 at 11:55:51 PM CEST

SPIT: You know thats a good question because we're now getting into the semantics of defining trends in video/film/art -- it's like that great film debate over whether or not altman's camera work can simply be defined as "casual".

We can start parsing mv directors into categories to help decide who's who but I don't think that is progressive in any way. For instance, saying almost everyone signed with Partizan is drowning in 'hip' or 'quirk' doesnt help. And to say a guy like romanek is neither hip nor quirky is too obvious. You know what I mean?

Film is different. There are way too many divisions. Godard is hip but brilliantly so. Ashby shows elements of quirk but never in a Graduate kind of way. And where do we place guys like Bill Douglas, Teshigahara, Miller, or even James Cameron.

I don't want this to turn into a finger point. For me, quirk is something a little too suspect. It's too much of a one off. It's like the kid at the dance who didn't want to dance but found it cool to fake dance.

It's funny for a minute but when it catches on and the entire floor starts to fake it, what's the difference between the running man and a coma?


But if you're not really doing it, who's working off the fat?

kevathens, October 25, 2007 at 12:03:40 AM CEST

Lusk: I was gonna answer spit's question by saying this is the opposite video (or maybe this), but I think you did a better job there.

30f, October 25, 2007 at 12:06:02 AM CEST

Too many Modest Mouse videos around these days. Even if you like them, they kind of blend together and lend themselves to conversations like "was that the one with the crazy sailor?" "No the hacky sack one." With these small budgets, doing so many videos seems to be making clutter rather than making an impression. There may be some master plan (like a DVD release) that requires a lot of clips - but I tend to think one mountain is better than a whole lot of sorta, kinda hills.

The wardrobe for TreeMan was disconcerting - the orange-ish jumpsuit made me think they were saying he was a plant AND some kind of escaped convict. Sort of an unfortunate choice.

Finally, this seems like an ancestor of the Fall Out Boy video with the deer antler kid (something sure to be seen as uncool by the much "smarter" Mouse fans). A girl dates an inappropriate but woodland themed boy and the father wants to destroy said forest-boy but eventually gets his just deserts.

spit, October 25, 2007 at 12:13:41 AM CEST

Kev: I had never seen that before, thank you. Actually, the first thing that came to mind was Chris Milk's Audioslave video from last year. It has emotional weight and a defined moral center. It draws a line and asks people to make judgment call.

However, it seems like quirkiness is so essential to music videos that it's hard to bypass in the treatment writing process. Essentially, it seems like quirkiness serves as a way to tell a story while remaining (seemingly) dispassionate and objective. At least that's what I'm getting from Hirschorn's article. Few bands or labels want to spend money alienating potential fans so it's best for them to tell charmingly neutral stories than to take a firm philosophical stance on any aspect of life.

These are just my initial thoughts. I think I may need to read the article a few more times and sleep on it.

kevathens, October 25, 2007 at 12:29:46 AM CEST

Spit: Yep, that's probably a better opposite. That or this. ;)

lusk81, October 25, 2007 at 12:31:13 AM CEST

SPIT: Kev's got the idea, but the 2 posted belong rather firmly in the abrasive hyper fueled world of electronica music.

Remember, the antithesis of quirk is not moral soberness (as is paritally the case of the Milk/Audioslave piece). A piece can be entirely fun, charming, clever, and engaging without being even a pinch quirky (Dethurah's Carpark comes instantly to mind). Hirschorn acknowledges the effectiveness of quirk: "Correctly deployed, quirk yields unexpected treasures, perhaps even finds new ways to unlock that hoary emotion called sentiment". But sentimentality is no pearl found solely in the quirk shell.

The danger is when (as the good man says), quirk goes "from an effective narrative tool to an end in itself."

spit, October 25, 2007 at 12:44:08 AM CEST

Lusk: So then what is it that seperates the Carpark video from this Modest Mouse one? Would you say this is an example of quirk being used as a means to an end? If so, to what end was the quirkiness in the Carpark video?

parkercl, October 25, 2007 at 1:31:08 AM CEST

I admire your motivations, I think they're well placed, but extreme admiration of that article could cause an unfortunate landslide of quasi-intellectual generalization.

It's irritating that you're attempting to use a single adjective to describe any work, especially when that adjective itself has so many variations of meaning. No piece of art, and even more so moving image, should be described or generalized by this depressingly inadequate and extremely lazy form of categorization. You can maybe describe an element of a work as "quirky" - a character, a situation - but let's steer away from that all too hip and trite world of label making before we create another empty buzz word.

I can't stand Modest Mouse but found this unique, surreal, beautiful fun and darkly humorous. I'd agree if you chose to deem the tree guy a "quirky" character that in turn creates a quirky situation amongst the family - hard to escape that relationship. Part of me feels as though it could have been darker and creepier if it were shot differently but then it would have been fighting accusations of horror film satire.

winchandpulley, October 25, 2007 at 8:21:49 AM CEST

This anti-quirk thing sounds like a lot of poppycock to me. So, basically anything that is smart, humorous and emotional is quirk? And therefore, what? Bad? And anything that's smart and humorless is what? Good?

It reminds me of the same reason why certain films are deemed more important than others, particularly because they're less fun, which is to say more boring. And since we've been conditioned to find educational things boring, well that must mean if it's stuffy and boring and doesn't have a heart, well that must mean that it's important.

What Andy's video is (or at least how I see it) is an artistic expression filtered through the lens of someone who grew up similarly to most of us, in the suburbs. If this same story were told with epic, Greek characters, or in some "important", "boring" Matthew Barney way, then it would be deemed better. But because it's familiar, and has a sense of humor, it's deemed quirky and therefore less. Poop on that.

clairesquare, October 28, 2007 at 12:00:45 AM CEST

I think Lusk's quote seems like pretty good way of viewing the issue: quirk goes "from an effective narrative tool to an end in itself." Yes, this video had an unusual tree guy, but it built a whole narrative around that (the syrup moment for instance). It played with the details of the potentially "quirk-only" and made it into a full story.

The only kind of video I could think of that would be quirky in a negative way is one that uses lots of unusual or cute or eclectic elements just for their own sake without real motivation or without actually integrating them. Just throwing in some guys in animal masks or people in tennis outfits or retro video game icons on top of a straight performance without building a relationship between the elements.

robodrug, October 29, 2007 at 1:38:04 AM CET

Meet tree guy's Japanese relative who seemingly hasn't kindled much passion wiv young Anna Tsuchiya. Still! Wood u wonder? He seems to be experiencing problems that keep stumping him!

najork, October 29, 2007 at 6:39:13 AM CET

My first though was that it was on odd reversal of Little Otik.

I liked it most of the way through, when it is simply cute/surreal. I feel like it forfeits it's allegorical potential once it starts getting into head spinning and such.

Robo: Neat commercial. I'm told at Caltech they throw you in the shower for making puns like that.


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