Music Article

Lights! Action! Lip-synch!

Filmmakers' rock videos -- Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese, and other movie directors take on music videos

Now that MTV has started crediting directors on screen, you can see that the clip for Naughty by Nature's new ''Hip Hop Hooray'' was made by Spike Lee. Of course, Lee (who also helmed Tracy Chapman's ''Born to Fight'' in 1989) is hardly the first filmmaker to take the plunge into the world of lip-synching, dry-ice fog, and air-guitar solos. Nor is he the first to find out that making a rock video isn't quite as easy at it looks. Here's a guide to major moviemakers who have taken the music-video plunge, for better or verse:

*DIRECTOR: Spike Lee *VIDEO: Naughty by Nature, ''Hip Hop Hooray'' (1993) *STORY LINE: Rappers and large posse find something to cheer about in, amazingly enough, a dilapidated ghetto lot. *FAMOUS CAMEOS: Queen Latifah, Eazy-E, and Run-D.M.C., plus the diminutive director himself as an unlikely bodysurfer *BIG-BUCKS SPECIAL EFFECTS: Lead rapper Treach sleeping in Naughty by Nature bed linens *NOTEWORTHY DIALOGUE: Thankfully, the music does all the talking. *BIG-TIME DIRECTOR'S TOUCH: Three subplots, none of which makes any immediate sense. (What's with the woman in the leopard panties?) Still, the energy's contagious. B+

*DIRECTOR:: John Landis *VIDEO: Michael Jackson, ''Thriller'' (1983) *STORY LINE: Michael's attempts at intimacy with girlfriend are constantly waylaid by assorted monsters (but where's Tito?). *FAMOUS CAMEOS: The voice of Vincent Price; Michael's old nose *BIG-BUCKS SPECIAL EFFECTS: Dancing, bile-spewing zombies in their Sunday best; Michael as both a werewolf and a seemingly normal, red-blooded American teen *NOTEWORTHY DIALOGUE: Michael to girlfriend: ''I'm not like other guys I mean, I'm different.'' *BIG-TIME DIRECTOR'S TOUCH: Never mind the 13-minute length and movielike credits; Landis pays homage to his own An American Werewolf in London. B+

*DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese *VIDEO: Michael Jackson, ''Bad'' (1987) *STORY LINE: New York ghetto kid is forced to prove his manhood by dancing and chanting a cappella in the subway with all-male chorus. *FAMOUS CAMEOS: Wesley Snipes as a troubled hood; the director (seen on a ''wanted'' poster in subway) *BIG-BUCKS SPECIAL EFFECTS: New York subway seems like clean, well-lit place where youths would want to dance. *NOTEWORTHY DIALOGUE: Jackson to Snipes, seemingly angry: ''Come on — let's do it! Let's see who's bad, man!'' *BIG-TIME DIRECTOR'S TOUCH: Artsy black-and-white intro sequence; movie-style credits; near-feature-length (18-minute) duration B+

*DIRECTOR: John Sayles *VIDEO: Bruce Springsteen, ''I'm on Fire'' (1985) *STORY LINE: Snobby married rich woman with nice nails flirts with mechanic, revving his desire into overdrive. Can you say Buttafuoco? *FAMOUS CAMEOS: None, but check out that shiny white T-Bird. *BIG-BUCKS SPECIAL EFFECTS: No phony backdrops here — it looks as if Bruce really is driving around L.A. *NOTEWORTHY DIALOGUE: Woman: ''You think you could have it ready for me tomorrow morning?'' Springsteen: ''Sure...Uhhh...Sure.'' *BIG-TIME DIRECTOR'S TOUCH: Sayles makes Bruce stretch as an actor — from shy grease monkey to bemused, introspective grease monkey. B

1 2
Advertisement

From Our Partners