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Palm Pictures presents
Director's Series Vol. 7: The Work of Director Stéphane Sednaoui (2005)

"First fact about Stéphane Sednaoui is that he is much cooler than anyone in his videos. It's just a fact. He looks better, the chicks like him more and he has a French accent. These three combined are a deadly combination."
- Bono

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: March 09, 2006

Stars: Mirwais, Tricky, Red Hot Chili Peppers, R.E.M., Bjork, Alanis Morissette, Garbage, Massive Attack, Youssou N'Dour & Neneh Cherry, Black Crowes, U2, NTM
Director: Stéphane Sednaoui

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (brief nudity)
Run Time: 01h:24m:41s
Release Date: September 13, 2005
UPC: 660200308025
Genre: compilation


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- B+B+B+ B

DVD Review

Stéphane Sednaoui, a French photographer who got his big break taking shots in the fashion industry before becoming a director, is the subject for the seventh volume of Palm's Director's Series. Sednaoui's disc showcases 19 of the music videos he has created for artists such as Tricky, Bjork, and U2, and by looking at the cover art it would appear he is attracted to bright surfaces, most indicative in the silver body paint used in the Give It Away video for Red Hot Chili Peppers. But that seems to be just a small layer of Sednaoui's artistic vision, however, because by looking at what is collected here it really would seem to be more of a continuation of his fashion industry work, where sexuality, closeups and clothing seem to the emotional drivers.

There isn't really a singular moment in Sednaoui's collection that necessarily stands out as individually monumentaléthough the Give It Away clip did create something of buzz at the timeéand instead the entire catalog daisy chains onto one another, creating a hip and trendy nightclub dance mix aura, broken up only sporadically by seemingly out of place pop singles like Ironic by Alanis Morissette (appearing as four different characters in one long car ride) or the pouty street life message of Sometimes Salvation by Black Crowes.

What's left is that recurring club vibe, with Tricky, Mirwais and the perpetually brilliant Bjork lending Sednaoui the musical foundation to build a framework of fashion-friendly cool. Even R.E.M., the band who once claimed they would never do music videos, goes full bore into Sednaoui's world with Lotus, where at one point a bare chested Michael Stipe is a blur of oversaturated color while small bursts of bright light fly out of his body, much like the oddball nipple laser beam fight scene in Mirwais' Disco Science.

Sednaoui's often subtle visual style (if you try to forget the aforementioned nipple laser beam) doesn't always rival the pure mindf**k work of a Michel Gondry or Spike Jonze, so rather than shaking viewers into an altered consciousness, he relies more on the core tenements of portrait photography. It is simplicity and closeups, stitched with accents of strangeness and color.

Music Videos:

Mirwais: I Can't Wait
Tricky: For Real
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Scar Tissue
Mirwais: Disco Science
R.E.M.: Lotus
Bjork: Possibly Maybe
Alanis Morissette: Ironic
Tricky: Pumpkin
Garbage: Queer
Tricky: Hell Is Around the Corner
Massive Attack: Sly
Youssou N'Dour and Neneh Cherry: Seven Seconds
Bjork: Big Time Sensuality
Bjork: Big Time Sensuality (new night version)
Black Crowes: Sometimes Salvation
U2: Mysterious Ways
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Give It Away
NTM: Le Monde de demain
U2: Discotheque (new director's cut)

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Sednaoui's videos are presented in a cross-section of aspect ratios, from full frame to widescreen, though none are enhanced for 16x9 viewing. Image quality is strong throughout, with colors looking bright, but it is really the black-and-white clips that look the most impressive, with well-defined contrast levels giving moments like Queer from Garbage a sharp edge.

Nice.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 stereo surround mix, as with the other releases in this series, is a good one, and at no point was I really lamenting the absence of a more spatial presentation. Bass is properly deep, and though the rear channels get little use, this one sounds just as strong loud as it does at lower volumes.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 19 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 19 cues and remote access
2 Documentaries
4 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Stephane Sednaoui
Packaging: clear plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. 56-page book
Extras Review: You have to love the partial symmetry of this series from Palm, and once again there is a heavy-stock 56-page book about Stéphane Sednaoui, crammed with scribbles, notes and photos, including one of U2 dressed as The Village People.

Videos can be viewed either individually, in director's order or chronological order. Yet there are no commentaries for the music videos on this release, though Sednaoui does provide one (and a poor one at that) for his first attempt at a short film, the sloppy Rêve Reche (03m:11s), found in the special features section. This is an odd one, made weaker by the bad sound quality of Sednaoui's commentary, which sounds like it was filtered through a ham radio. The rest of the material is much better, particularly the dreamy Acqua Natasa (05m:15s), in which the lovely Natasa Vojnovic is spun about gently until her clothes fall off. Less pretty but just as hypnotic is Walk on the Wild Side (11m:13s), a short film inspired by the Lou Reed song, and in fact features it prominently, making it sort of like an unofficial long-form video. Army of Me (04m:45s) features animation inspired by and set to the Bjork song, and it is supernaturally spooky, at least until that army of polar bears show up, and then it suddenly gets creepy.

The interviews section only has two components: 34 Minutes and 29 Seconds of Interviews (which actually runs 34m:54s) and NYU Presentation (19m:52s). The interview segment features the director, along with Bjork, Bono, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Michael Stipe, Shirley Manson, Flea, and Tricky all pontificating on the genesis of his work, and anecdotes about particular videos. The NYU segment is from 2003, with Sednaoui, looking strangely like Jim Carrey, seated at a table answering questions like "how did you get your start?" or "how control do you have over all the elements?"

The disc is cut into 19 chapters.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Even when individual selections in this series from Palm don't completely knock me on edge, such as this one, the material is still undeniably well crafted, artistically clever and always engaging on some level. It's art, baby. You don't always have to like it to know that it is cool.

Recommended.

 


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