Greg Veis, YouTube Hunter Gives You Jonathan Glazer

In this the third part of our ongoing 433-part series, Better Know a Director, we'll do a once-over on the work of Jonathan Glazer. The Fightin' Glazer. Undoubtedly, you've seen some of his work before. Sexy Beast was a pretty big deal, although Birth, rightfully, was less of one. He's also directed a bunch of music videos, including Jamiroquai's once ubiquitous "Virtual Insanity." But as I discovered at a not-that-recent Resfest, watching his work in isolation doesn't do the man justice. Themes emerge. Patterns develop. More than other directors who've cut their teeth on adverts and music videos, he's a storyteller—enamored with visual trickery, yes, but more interested in a piece's emotional impact. Not until the last few years, for instance, have Spike Jonze's music videos, brilliant as they are, elicited more of a response than "Whoa, cool." (To his credit, Jonze's "Weapon of Choice" deals more elegantly with the psychic difficulties of aging than any other video ever.) Glazer, on the other hand, has always gone for the deep stuff. His videos are four-minute meditations on death ("Street Spirit"), the dangers of vengeance ("Karma Police") and dystopia ("The Universal"). And if there's a music video more uncomfortable to watch than Nick Cave's "Into My Arms," I'm not too keen on seeing it. Here they all are, back-to-back:

It's even more difficult to pack a wallop within the confines of an advertisement. For one, an ad is shorter. Also, you're tasked with selling something. But Glazer glides easily into high art in this medium, too. Watch these three Guinness commercials and try to figure out how he does it (or disagree with me if you don't think he pulls it off at all). I'll share my guesses with you first: 1) Each commercial, though only a minute long, has a very clear narrative arc—beginning, middle, end. Lots of commercials don't, or if they do, they seem hastily scraped together and meaningless. These are rich stories he's telling, the kind you'd expect a Irishman to tell you after five Guinnesses, which, come to think of it, is the product he's shilling. Funny how that works out. 2) He uses animals and mob scenes to set mood. The horses in the surfer video, the screaming dogs in the dreamer one, the crowd in the last—these images aren't evocative of anything in the specific, but they stick. They seem primal somehow, almost ancient. Again, perfect notes to hit if you're selling a famous and famously old beer. Art and commerce, baby. Glazer knows the alchemy.

More Glazer after the jump.

Anyway, there's much more of his work to check out. His Palm Director's Series DVD is a great place to start. But since I can't buy you all a copy, I'll end with his latest advertisement. It was filmed last summer and is for the Sony Bravia. It's not his best work (because it doesn't tell a story!), but it's cool lookin'...

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.


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