Though the word genius can be as misused as a condom on a Mötley Crüe tour bus, it would be daunting to find a better description for director Chris Cunningham after viewing his masterworks. Another stunning entry in an already brilliant concept, Cunningham's edition of the Director's Label Series (which also includes editions from Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze) is an awe-inspiring chronology of his music video projects, which include his collaborations with Autechre, Aphex Twin, and Björk, as well as video installations and commercial work.
A bonus 52-page booklet includes sketches, anecdotes on each music video, and background work. But this release isn't just a testament to the artist's more familiar indulgences; it also encompasses the maelstrom of innovation of which he's capable. Interesting sidebar stories that range from his aborted work on Stanley Kubrick's A.I. to the in-depth featurette on the making of Björk 's "All Is Full of Love" are merely intriguing distractions from the real reason for purchasing this -- the videos. From the ghetto-fabulous "Windowlicker" to the eerie, big-city nightmare of Leftfield's "Afrika Shox," Cunningham harbors an uncanny ability to create distinct images for each individual work while keeping a familiar imprint on them all.
Whether it be a Nissan short or Madonna's desert fable "Frozen," it's hard to imagine that anyone else would be guilty of such simultaneously devious beauty and widespread acceptance except Chris Cunningham. Though the Aphex Twin and Björk videos steal the show, there is rarely a misstep in technologically captivating art such as this. At times crude but always a thrill, Cunningham's work is artistic rebellion on the cusp of reinvention. Though he might never direct again, we're at least afforded the opportunity to witness a worthy package of his output. The term genius is fitting, but smirking visionary is more appropriate.
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